5 Tips for Beginner Runners

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Flashback to 5 years ago: me leading a pack of people I don’t know to the finish line at my first 5-miler.

Today’s Workout: None/Rest Day
Yesterday’s Workout: 7 miles @ 73:10

Yesterday, when I was doing my long run, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I wanted the point of this blog to be, and how I want it to affect you, the reader. I haven’t been doing much of that lately…so far, it’s pretty much been all about me, and what I want.

When I started this blog (a mere month ago), it was to serve two purposes: A) it was supposed to give me motivation to train for my first marathon. It had definitely done that! And B) it was supposed to be a place where my best friend, Stephanie and I could connect; while we don’t get to see each other nearly close to enough, it was supposed to give us an opportunity to plan our race schedule together for the year and socialize with one another more. This blog has definitely helped with Point A, and I know we will get there with Point B, but now there is also a Point C: you, the reader.

I never thought that I would have anyone following this blog (other than family and friends) or commenting on it in just the course of a month. But I do, and that has left me thinking about what else I want to share with my readers other than my boring training and tales from my somewhat dull life. Anyone can share details about their day, what they had for dinner, etc. (no offense to those of you out there that do this!), but I wanted to do something different that I can share with the world. Here I go talking about me, me, me again (don’t worry, there will be more of that in the future, too). But at least once a week I want to make sure that at least one post is dedicated to you.

With five halfs and tons of 5ks under my belt, I don’t consider myself a beginner runner, but I don’t technically consider myself intermediate, and I definitely don’t consider myself advanced (if anyone else would even break things down this way…the equestrian in me is coming out right now). So for now, you will be seeing a lot of posts dedicated to beginner runners. Since a lot of bloggers read my posts, too, you’ll see some tips about blogging, photography, and writing on here, too (it might not seem like it on here, but my actual profession is in writing, editing, and eh, we’ll throw photography in there, too, since my photos have been published in magazines both here, and here). God, I am so narcissistic! I just can’t stop talking about myself!

So finally, to the part about you: today’s post is pretty generic – but trust me, this works.

5 Tips for Beginners
1) Don’t start off too fast. The best piece of advice I ever got was to go at your own pace. Unfortunately, it took me a REALLY long time to learn this. If you try to start off sprinting, you’re going to be winded in no time. This rings true if you’re a marathon runner, or someone who is completing their first 5k. Life’s a marathon, not a sprint, so sit back (well, not literally), smell the roses, and enjoy the run.

2) Don’t be afraid to push yourself.
Again, great advice that I got from my high school cross-country coach. Boy, I wish I listened to him more! I’d probably be running 7-minute miles by now, if I actually did everything he told me to do. You’re probably wondering what I mean by “pushing yourself” since I just told you not to go too fast. Well, you can’t build stamina if you just walk all the time. It’s definitely OK to walk if you’re just starting out (read this), but make sure that you’re not just trying to take the easy way out of things. Run at an even, conversational pace at first, and keep running at this pace until you start to feel like you’re out of breath. Then, take a quick walk break, and as soon as you’ve caught your breath, start running again. You can also apply this to running/jogging which is what I did when I first started running again (post high school cross-country) – do run,jog, run again intervals once you’ve graduated from taking walk breaks.

3) Visualization is key.
Again, something I learned in high school. This is something I actually did apply, and got great results. When I came seconds away from surpassing my high school’s record in the 800-meter relay, it wasn’t by chance (well, maybe a little, because I was so nervous about this track meet, I thought I was gonna pee my pants!). It was because I used visualization. OK, it was a mixture of visualization and nerves.
When I say visualization, I’m talking about visualizing your form. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been watching my husband play too much Battlefield 3 or what, but lately when I’m running on my treadmill, I visualize myself as someone who is running in the army, and think about the form that they have: barely moving their arms, just swiftly enough in front of them to pull them forward, with a mostly straight, but somewhat forward stance. I feel like visualizing this helps me reserve my energy. It must be working because the other day JP saw me running and said “Great form! But what do I know?”
Other times I just pretend I’m running like a gazelle.

4) Don’t be afraid.
When I first started running again, I felt like everyone was judging me. I would be afraid that someone would be driving by or running by, and would say to themselves “what the hell is that girl doing? She’s running so slow she might as well be going backwards!”
Well, I’ve learned to say eff them all. Sometimes I still feel like I’m going pretty slow, but I’ve learned to not care what others think. Besides, most of the people out there don’t get enough exercise and spend too much time sitting on the couch while watching tv and playing video games. So you really want to be that type of person? If you’re reading this blog, that means you’re making an attempt to be a runner (or you already are). At least you’re out there trying, which is more than most people can say! I’ll get off my soapbox now.

5) Sign up for a race.
It doesn’t have to be a marathon or a half-marathon. I know, some of us bloggers might seem like snobs because we don’t want to have much to do with 5ks anymore, but trust me. These races are just as serious as half marathons and marathons. The people who win these races are typically very fast.
Nothing says motivation like a race. After I signed up for my first 5-miler ever (which I happened to think was the same as a 5k at the time!), I ate, drank and breathed running. Who am I kidding? I’m still like that! So follow my (or your other favorite blogger’s) lead, and go do it!

Experienced runners: have another piece of advice that I didn’t list? Share it here!

Beginner runners: what’s something new that you’ve learned (running wise) over the past couple of days?

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5 thoughts on “5 Tips for Beginner Runners

  1. Heather

    This is a great post with excellent tips πŸ™‚

    I really like #3 Visualization. I’ve read a lot about this during my marathon training. My belief is that it really works. In the late stages of a marathon I tend to picture the finish line with the clock and people cheering to give me a rush of adrenaline to keep going. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  2. emmelineruns

    Great beginner tips! my input: Being consistent is so important for beginners! You have to run often to not only get better, but to really love running, or else you’re always fighting being in running shape and you’ll wonder why it always hurts or why you’re not getting better. When I started I got significantly faster in the first few months even though I made no effort to do so, all because I was running 5-6 days a week every week πŸ™‚

    Reply
  3. Meg @ Megan Go Run

    I look forward to your posts about photography and blogging! I am still learning so much about it! My tip for beginner runners- embrace your new title as “runner”. Some people who start running always end each sentence with “but I’m not a runner”. If you ran on purpose, you are a RUNNER!

    Reply
  4. Marie Oliveira

    I think everyone has an interesting life. It just depends on how you tell it πŸ™‚ You had me laughing at the narcissistic bit cause I sometimes think that about myself as I go on and on about me and my kids on my blog.

    I did tip #1 on my first 5k. It started off going down a biggish hill. I couldn’t help keeping up with the pack going 7min/miles even though I typically run 10min/miles. That was not the best 5k ever.

    Reply
  5. Jessica @ RunYourMuttOff

    I love emmelinruns comment about consistency, that is great advice. After running on and off for two years I’m finally commiting and running 5 days a week because I think it’ll help me get faster and build a better base to train for my first full marathon.
    I think all 5 of your tips are great!
    PS. I totally appreciate your writing for the readers, but I also love to just read about bloggers lives so don’t feel bad if some posts are all “me, me, me”

    Reply

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