Considering I started off today with a joyous run with someone who had no clue how to actually do that, I figured I would compile a little list of tips and tricks for those beginner runners. Some of you are doing it to get in shape and to be badass, some of you want desperately to lose weight and fit into that dress that society says you can only wear once you’re a certain weight, some of you want to run because it screams at you inside your head (but you just don’t think you can possibly do it). Well, I’m here to tell you that all of these are acceptable reasons—just like all other reasons. You want to run? Then goddamn you will run. These are just some tips for you to think about when you’re thinking about heading out there.
1. Gear isn’t everything, but it is something.
See, this is a tough one because what it really comes down to is not your gear, but gear helps. Such as: you can run in bare feet, it just might not feel the best if you’re not used to it. I suggest: running shoes something dedicated solely to running or cross-training will work, just as long as it’s breathable, the right size and not giving you any soreness/discomfort; stretchy pants that fit you, or shorts because shorts show off your damn fine legs; an athletic top or some kind (if you’re a girl, invest in a really comfortable sports bra, this is really important, trust me); and a hairtie if your hair is always in your face and blinding you.
2. Dynamic stretches first, static stretches after.
If you don’t know what these are you better start learning. Dynamic stretches include hip circles, knee circles and arm circles. They’re stretches that not only get your muscles ready to work, but get your heart rate started up as well. You want to do these before your run because it will loosen you up—you’re less likely to pull a muscle this way. Static stretches are all the ones they probably taught you in PE. You want to do these after your run because it will help work out whatever cramps and kinks you get into yourself from the run. Keep limber, keep yourself unhurt.
3. Pace yourself.
This isn’t a race to see who can hurt themselves the quickest. This isn’t even a race. Not right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re running partner is a lot more fit than you and can walk around the track faster than you can jog it. If they’re complaining about being held up then they need to chill the fuck out. Remind them that you need more time to get up to speed. You don’t become an Astronaut in one day and you sure as hell don’t become an Olympic Runner in that amount of time either. If you’re going down a hill, keep a pace and don’t go flying down it. It won’t help you build your stamina and you’ll actually get tired quicker. Same with if you’re going uphill. Or on level ground. Unless you’re doing planned interval running, don’t try it. You’ll tire yourself out and you won’t be able to reach your goal.
4. Breathe as evenly as you can manage.
Okay, I don’t expect you to be counting out all of your breaths, but this is especially useful if you feel a cramp coming on in the spot right underneath the ribs. Yeah, you know which one I’m talking about. If you count out your breaths and do a “IN, 2, 3; OUT, 2, 3” sequence for a minute or so, your cramp will ease and you’ll be able to continue. This happens to everyone. You’re not dying. Keep running.
5. It’s okay to walk.
It doesn’t matter what the reason is: you feel light-headed, your shin splints are killing you, you need a drink… any of these are okay to admit. Even if you just absolutely can’t go on or you’ll pass out—take a break. It’s okay to say you need one. Especially if you’re just starting out. It’s not okay to take too many breaks, mind you, but it’s perfectly okay to take some breaks.
6. Stay hydrated.
Some days you’re going to feel like you don’t need it—you’re already swimming through the air because it’s so humid. Please, please stay hydrated and don’t pass out while running. You have no idea how much that sucks. Heat exhaustion is no fun and you really don’t want to play with that.
7. If you do get injured, take a few days to recuperate.
It’s not cool to drag yourself around the track like you’re a zombie. Especially if that means one of your limbs is mangled and dragging behind you. No one wants to deal with that shit. So please, just take the time to heal up before you go taking off in a sprint again.
8. Don’t be afraid to push yourself.
Think you can run that little bit farther? Do it. Run until you want to just drop. Don’t do that to yourself (actually keel over), but get yourself to the point where you don’t think you can go any further. Know your physical limits. Push them. Go faster or further, or both!
9. Set goals for yourself.
Whether that’s distance: I want to run a half marathon! Or speed: I want to run a 6 minute mile! Then go ahead and try your hardest to get there. Setting goals and reaching them feels awesome (and it looks pretty cool too!)
10. If you want to race, then race!
Seriously, even if you know you’re going to be in dead last… if you want to run a race and get that experience then do it. Have fun doing it. Love yourself for completing that race and cheer for yourself at the end. Everyone else will be cheering for you too, especially because you just accomplished something amazing! Go you!