Friday, June 9, 2017

How to Start Running

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My lack of fitness motivation earlier this year got me thinking about why I started running in the first place. Before 2011 I was not interested in working out or running -- at all. I couldn't finish a mile if my life depended on it. I was not in a good place in my life at all, and I needed to prove to myself that I could set a goal and accomplish it. I was inspired by runner friends and a desire to love myself to start running. It has changed my life!

I've recently started to regain my motivation to train for another half-marathon. This inspired me to share my tips on how to start running.

You just have to start. 

When I began, running felt awful, but I kept going. I didn't invest in fancy new running shoes right away; I just worked with what I had. I searched for a running schedule online and followed it. It was as simple as that.

A key to starting is to establish your why. This is going to push you through the times when you doubt yourself and want to quit.

If I were just starting out now, I'd know about many more resources available than I did back then. I just learned on my own with occasional advice from runner friends. If you want professional advice, I would find training that involves cardio at places such as Orangetheory Fitness, or you can hire a trainer if your budget allows. You can also sign up for group training for races (Mine was only $35 for 12 weeks.). It's much more affordable than one-on-one coaching and you will find new runner friends. If in-person coaching is not in the budget, you can also find free running groups on In addition, you'll free resources online: Blogs, fitness websites and YouTubers can all offer valuable advice. Search for running form class or workshops in your area (usually at local running shoe stores) if you want advice on proper form.

What you need to get started:

  • A good pair of running shoes. I found that I didn't have any issues when I had the right size and fit of shoe. I consulted a longtime runner who worked at a running store in Phoenix to find the right shoes for me. He's the one who suggested going up half a size when I was having issues with my toenails, and he was so right. I have since always purchased a half size larger in running shoes. Some runners think losing toenails is a badge of courage, but it really shouldn't be happening. Look into insoles as well. 
  • Good running socks. All socks are not made equally. Cheap socks have resulted in blisters for me in the past. Don't make this mistake!
  • Moisture-wicking running clothes. 
  • Sunglasses or hat, lip balm and sunscreen (or weather-appropriate clothing).
  • A hydration system that works for you. I have tried hand-held water bottles, water bottle belts, hydration packs and using the water fountains along my path.
  • Hair ties.
  • If you intend to listen to music, you'll need an armband or Flipbelt to hold your phone, as well as headphones. The key is have the volume at a low level or only wear one earbud, because you need to be able to hear someone calling out "On your left" or whatever else.
  • Headlamp/lights or reflective gear if running at dusk/dawn or night. In any race where you have to run at night and around traffic, you typically run on the opposite side of the street, facing traffic so you can see it.

Websites for runners:

These sites offer information for runners and fitness lovers. 

What websites would you add?

Rules of the road:

The following are little rules, or etiquette tips, that I have learned over the years.
  • Stay to the right. When passing, do so on the left, and say out loud, "On your left" to let the person you are passing know. This is to prevent any accidents or to avoid startling someone. (Also to maintain order in what can be a chaotic world. haha! But really, sometimes running paths can be crowded, and this helps.)
  • Always pay attention to your surroundings, whether it's cyclists, strollers, walkers, golf carts, whatever. Don't just suddenly stop or change directions without looking around. Same goes for people who blow their nose (snot rockets) on the road!
  • On crowded paths or trails, run behind your partner instead of crowding the entire walkway. 
  • If you ask someone to run with you and he or she is a slower runner than you, don't leave him or her in the dust unless you discussed previously that you'd each run at your own paces. It's just rude!
  • Help each other out. Cheer for other runners and help anyone you notice is in trouble. The running community is so wonderful to be a part of.
What tips would you add?

Training tips for a half- or full marathon:

(See the running page on my blog for more training posts.)
  • Combine strength training and yoga/stretching into your plan.
  • Hire a coach or go on group runs if possible.
  • Don't do anything too crazy the week of the race. That means eating irregular foods or trying new workouts.
  • Test out pre-run meals, hydration and energy gels/ chews/products during long runs and do so multiple times.
  • Run in all weather conditions, unless it's completely dangerous (lighting, severe storms, etc.), because it just might rain on race day. (I don't always follow this, but it really is for the best.) 
  • Seek professional advice on the right shoe for you.
  • Don't ignore pains/injuries. Get them checked out and do something about them.
  • Do a test run in your race day outfit, preferably more than once.
  • Don't give up or be too hard on yourself.
  • Add some hill runs/workouts to the mix.

How to find motivation:

Related post: Gaining back motivation to work out
  • Connect with other runners on social media. Follow runners and read running/fitness blogs.
  • Go on group runs or run with a friend.
  • Hire a trainer or coach.
  • Watch YouTube videos on fitness and running.
  • Read running/fitness magazines.
  • Replace your old running shoes.
  • Get some cute new running clothes.
  • Take your kiddo along for a family jog in the running stroller.
  • Schedule time to run. Hire that babysitter and free a block of time.
  • Create a new running playlist. Subscribe to running playlists on Spotify.
  • Create a running vision board or Pinterest board.
  • Participate in workout/fitness challenges.
  • Reward yourself (in moderation/in healthy ways).
  • Set short- and long-term goals.

Hashtags for motivation and connecting with runners:


What hashtags do you use?

Best races I have run:

  • Chicago Marathon: This was my second marathon but it's in a city I have grown to love. The crowd was incredible, and I'm talking about both the spectators and the runners.
  • Kentucky Derby Marathon: It was my first marathon. I felt so touched that Graham's family came to watch and support me.
  • Chicago Spring and Fall Half Marathons: The medals are the best I've seen, and again, they are in a great city.
  • Phoenix Half Marathon: The course is gorgeous and it's at a nice time of year in Phoenix.
  • Ragnar Relay: I have run a Ragnar race four times: threes time at the Ragnar Del Sol and once at Ragnar McDowell Mountain. It's an incredibly challenging race, but it's also unforgettable and fun.

Related running posts:

Running favorites:

Garmin Vivosmart HR


Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17 (various colors, I have purple)

Flipbelt (various colors)


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What running tips would you add?