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Over the course of the last few months, I somehow, officially became a runner. It’s still a little weird to hear myself say it, but I am a runner! I enjoy running. I look forward to the space I create in my head when I run, the calm (and sweat) that encompasses my body after my run, and the feeling of exhaustion swirled with victory from tacking on another few miles to my weekly log.
Slowly, I became a runner. From starting with jogging 1 minute intervals to now regularly logging hour plus runs (the most recent long run being a 7.5 miler with my hubby!) I feel comfortable saying I am a runner. So what have I learned along the way on my journey of becoming a newbie runner? Here’s all the stuff that I figured out along my training journey to my first race that’s next month (NEXT MONTH!!!!!)
1)Get Your Foot Measured
Go to a running specialty store and have your foot measured. The people who work at these specialty running stores know their stuff…and on top of it all you can tell they really have a passion for the sport of running. They will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about whether you pronate when you walk/run, if you have a narrow or wide foot, high arch, low arch etc, along with the actual shoe size you ought to be wearing to allow your foot to spread as you run. They even watched me run for a bit on a treadmill and took measurements of how my knees and ankles aligned and worked together as I jogged.
Try on as many different shoes as you like, but don’t feel obligated to walk out with a pair, unless you are ready to. After trying on several different types and brands of shoes, I found that my loyalty to Nike’s Free Running line still runs strong. And I’ve also embraced that I officially wear a Women’s Size 12. I guess 4 pregnancies officially pushed my foot over the edge, quite literally…For my girls that wear size 11, you know what I mean! Finding women’s size 11 shoes in a store is like finding a needle in a haystack sometimes, so finding size 12’s in store is practically non-existent… but that’s okay. Thank goodness for being able to order online!
In other words, push yourself but don’t overdo it! There is nothing wrong with jogging slowly, or walking. In the beginning try doing intervals where you alternate running and walking every minute or two. As you feel your stamina increasing, add increments to your jogging intervals of 30 seconds to a minute, while slowly increasing your total running time.
Be sure to build rest and active recovery days into your schedule, and if you are training for a race, also build in cross training days to further increase your cardiovascular endurance without the repetitive strain that running can put on your body.
3)Use an App/Training Plan
I am using the ‘Couch to 10K’ training app to train for my 5 mile race next month. Yes, I technically was in pretty good shape before starting my race training plan, but for me, running has always been a different type of beast to conquer. I was a basketball player, so I never really cared for “just” running, so this app was perfect for me to acclimate to getting my body used to it. Shorter 1-2 minute running intervals evolved over the last 13 weeks into running for over an hour straight, without even having to think about how to increase my stamina. The app planned it out for me, week by week. All I had to do was show up!
So, what if you aren’t planning on entering a race just yet? Find a training plan that gets you running for a certain amount of time by a set number of weeks, for example running 30 minutes straight in 4-6 weeks.
4)Hydrate Before and After
I can’t speak enough about how important this is. Not drinking enough water the day before a run will negatively affect you. You will feel sluggish, awful, and depleted on your run. Not replenishing water lost after a run will give you headaches, make you weak, and mad at the world. So drink up!
What about during your run? If I am running on a treadmill, I will sneak a couple of sips in if I really need to. When I run outdoors I usually don’t bring water with me (I just don’t like the extra luggage!) but I am sure to hydrate well beforehand and really well immediately after and for the rest of the day. On days I don’t hydrate as well, I definitely have noticed a difference in my workouts and my overall energy level, so I’ve become quite the stickler for drinking plenty of water daily.
5)Don’t Get Discouraged If You Hit A Rough Patch Or Two
I hit a rough patch for a couple of weeks where my plan transitioned me to longer intervals of running. It was tough! Sometimes I could keep a decent pace, other times, I couldn’t, but the entire time I had anxiety about it….before the run, during the run, after the run thinking and dreading the next run….Until I realized I was pushing too much. Everything (my breathing, my heart rate, my anxiety) was saying to slow down! So that’s what I did, I slowed my pace down a little and really began to enjoy the longer runs. I used the rough patch to make some adjustments to how I was running and it helped move me forward.
6)Don’t Get Fixated on the Scale
There’s this thing that happens sometimes when you begin a new type of exercise, called Train Gain, and it can ruin your morale! As my mileage increased each week, I was for sure that my weight would drop a pound or three, but that didn’t happen. I will admit my body looks a bit leaned out compared to my first week, but I am still the same weight, 13 weeks into my training program. And that’s okay! I feel and look stronger, and I feel like I can run for days (okay, hours, lol!) and that’s more important than what the scale says.
While I also make sure not to fixate on the scale, I do make sure to fuel my body well. My appetite is ferocious on my running days. Burning 700 plus calories per run now, I have to be somewhat mindful of putting good food into my body to help my body recover and to fuel for my next run.
Yes, I allow myself a few more treats than I should at times, but I am not being extreme with my eating to either end. I am not limiting my calories, but I am also not eating every possible horribly bad thing for me in sight, just because “I ran.” Healthy, wholesome food is key…Lots of veggies, lean proteins, good fats, and complex carbs to help power my runs….With an occasional treat because I’ve gotta live a little!
8)Get A Pakrat
I hate having stuff in my pockets when I run outdoors, and the Pakrat has been a lifesaver. It’s like a Fanny Pack of the future. It goes around my waist, and can hold EVERYTHING. Keys, cards, money, CHAPSTICK!!! phone (yes my huge iPhone 7Plus fits in it easily!) an extra snack if you need it for a longer run, etc. I even tucked an 8 ounce bottle of water into the back of it on my last long run, just to see how it would go. And it all stays put! No tugging (up or down) to keep it on my waist. In addition to it holding A LOT of stuff, it doesn’t look OR feel bulky.
9)Invest In A Good Pair of Wireless Headphones
I tried out several headphones before finally investing in a pair of Powerbeats 3. It has a long battery life (I only charge my beats once every 3 weeks!), and the ear hooks designed to keep the buds stable in your ears is just genius. Before purchasing these I had a pair that didn’t have ear hooks that would begin slipping out of my left ear (and only my left ear, weird!) as soon as I began sweating. How annoying! These headphones stay put, even with my glasses on.
10)Keep At It!
I didn’t think I would ever get to the point I am now with running, and it’s still kind of surreal to me that I can run 5 plus miles on any given day. Every day I step out there is an opportunity to knock “I can’t” out of my head and say instead, “I just did.” And that feels amazing! But that wouldn’t have happened in the first place if I didn’t keep at it. So keep pushing, even through those not so great days and you will be amazed at what you can do, and how far you will go!
Are there any other mamas out there who found a love for running after having babies? I’d love to hear from you!
1/5/19 update: I’ve since run two races since writing this, The Marine Corps Semper 5ive 5 mile Race in May 2018 , and my first half marathon, the Philadelphia Rock N Roll Marathon in September 2018, which was amazing!!!!!! I am currently training for an 11 mile race, another Marine Corps race, in March 2019, which is going to be a beast, but totally looking forward to it (and earning my race bling!)
For those who race, how many races do you run yearly?