I will tell you right now my first tip to any new runner is to get fitted for proper running shoes. Yes, I was totally guilting of buying a random pretty pair off the shelf of my shoe store at the mall. Heck, I don't even know if they were even true 'running' shoes...they were likely not and more of a stylish casual sneaker.
Your feet are some of the absolute most important tools in running and you need to take care of them. There are different types of running shoes for different running forms (basically the way your legs and feet move when you run) and running in the incorrect shoe can cause pain and even injuries. Most local running stores will be able to help fit you with the right kind of shoe and makes suggestions for you to try with a run on a special treadmill in their store. Once they tell you what kind of shoe you need (stability, neutral, etc), you can then try on various shoes in that category to find what fits you best (feel, style, price, etc). Trust me, even if you spend $20 more on shoes or go 15 minutes out of your way, your feet will thank you and you might even prevent yourself from having a long-lasting and expensive injury.
It wasn't until the past two years or so that I realized how valuable cross training is. When you think of training for a race you think strictly of all the miles you need to run. Nope. Exercising the rest of your body is just as important as running. I have been loving the benefits of yoga both mentally and physically over the past few years. Not only do I get to stretch out my tired, tight, legs, I get to strengthen and stretch the rest of my muscles and relax my mind as well. Another great workout to checkout are HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts - I have been doing these the past year and LOVE them. My endurance levels are better than ever thanks to them. There are so many awesome options for cross-training that can benefit runners like swimming, weight training, etc. Find what works best for you, your schedule, and what you enjoy and make it happen - your runs will thank you. Cross-training is important, DO IT!
The running community is one of the absolute BEST around! We are all in this crazy adventure together and love to share our journey with each other. While Pittsburgh has Steel City Road Runners as a prominent running group, there are so many great running clubs you can join across the country. What better place to get tips about running than from runners?!? Trust me, even if you don't want to hear about our successes or "learning opportunities" we will likely tell you. There are so many things that you learn on the go when getting into running and the running community and teach you so much. Also, be sure to take advantage of local group runs with running clubs or at local running stores. Group runs are a great time to log miles, stay accountable, and stay motivated!
When many decide to take on running or start training for their first race, there is often a theory that you "have" to run the entire distance of a race. Nope. Don't be afraid to walk! Let your body "reset" if needed. Did you know that you can actually get faster by adding walk breaks into your running? I am a HUGE fan of Jeff Galloway's run-walk-run method and it seriously helped my pace as I adjusted to the method. Basically, you run and walk in set intervals which allows your body to have a quick reset between runs which helps you speed up recovery and fight fatigue along the run. If you don't believe me that you can run fast while run-walk-run'ing, Jeff Galloway himself BQ'ed using this method. Boom. Embrace the walk. To learn more about the Galloway method training for the Pittsburgh Marathon weekend check out www.steelcityrrc.org/Galloway or if you live outside of Pittsburgh, www.jeffgalloway.com/training/run-walk.
Running is addictive. At first you might be like "why?!?!" but trust me, all it takes is finding one little spark and you are sucked in. This whole running journey of mine started about 10 years ago with a family 5K (which I walked) and now look at me. I said that I would only do one half marathon, but here I am about to run my 100th half marathon in about 6 weeks.
Embrace each moment. Take the negatives and turn them into 'learning experiences' and make yourself better. Trust me, running really can be fun! If you follow my first four tips and have a successful training cycle and race day experience, I bet that you will be back for more. Keep your eye on your goal and work hard, but have FUN!
I believe in each and every person starting their running adventures. With the right steps, training, and dedication, you can accomplish anything that you put your mind to. Enjoy your journey! See you at the finish line! <3
Now, who is joining me and becoming a Runner of Steel? GAME ON!