10 things I wish I would have known when I first started running

I’m no expert in running, but in 4 years I’ve gone from only running 100 yards  to 17 miles, so I’ve learned a thing or two. Here are 10 things I wish I would have known when I first started running!

10. Get a good pair of running shoes.
And by good, I mean GOOD. Not, “aren’t these so cute” or “these were on sale!” While cute and discounted shoes are exciting, make sure that they are shoes that are truly created for running. Do a little research beforehand and visit a running/sporting good store to talk to professionals. It’s amazing how shoes can make your run or break every joint in your body. Shoes don’t have to be expensive either. You can easily find a pair for under $150 {insert gasp} which I know seems like a lot, but running shoes is NOT the area to be cheap.

9. Keep a running log.
This is good for a lot of reasons. First, because you can track the mileage on your shoes to see when they need to be changed. Second, it’s good to track your progress. If you’re losing weight or lifting weights you’d very likely keep track of where you are now verses two weeks ago. Finally, it’s fun to keep track of all miles you’ve run over the past weeks/months/years!

I keep two running logs – one where I can compare my scheduled miles to my actual miles, and on Daily Mile where I keep track of my time and how I felt {great, good, blah, injured, sick}. Daily Mile also keeps fun stats like how many donuts you’ve burned, how many pounds you’ve lost, how many gallons of gas you’ve saved and how many times around the world you’ve run! It’s a lot of fun!

8. Running takes time.
Like most things worth doing, running takes time to advance. For your own sanity {and to remain hopeful}, keep in mind that just because you rocked your 1-mile run, you may not be ready for 1.5 miles. On the flip side, just because you can only run 15 feet doesn’t mean you can’t run 20 feet the next time out. Every runner, no matter experience level, has good runs and bad runs. Don’t be discouraged when it’s difficult. It makes the good runs that much sweeter!

7. Your body has limits. Respect them.
As Rick Warren always says, “never let pride be your guide.” If you’re trying to run further, faster, or go faster than you walk, keep in mind that an adjustment period is crucial in preventing injury. A common mistake is trying to run as fast/far as you could when you were _____ {in high school, college, 15 years old, etc.} You may still be in the same body, but your body has changed. Don’t push yourself too far or too fast or else you will inevitably be injured and will have to take time off to heal. 

6. Know your pain.
Pain is a part of working out and running. You’ll be sore. You’ll hurt. You’ll want to know when a semi-truck hit your body because you’re so sore. But know the difference between being sore and being injured. If you’re sore, be sure you’re staying hydrated, consuming enough protein and stretching! If you’re actually hurt and in pain, try rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E.) on the injured area. If it gets too bad, be sure to see a doctor.

5. Find what works for you.
There are thousands of plans, tips, tricks, workouts, etc. You name it, it’s on the internet. But remember, just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean that it’s valid. Second of all, even if it’s a legitimate plan, it doesn’t mean it works for YOU. When I first started running, the first half marathon training plan I came across had me running 3 miles on the first day. If by run three miles you mean run .25 miles and crawl the remaining 2.75 miles, then sure, I could do it.

Whether you just want to run casually or if you want to train for an endurance event (and yes, a 5k is an endurance event) consider hiring a running coach. They create a custom schedule for you, your experience and your goals, then they keep up with how you’re doing and modify the plan as needed. It’s another great investment when it comes to your running future! Let me know if you want a couple references for running coaches!

4. Cross-training is as important as running.
Every time your foot hits the ground while running, your knee absorbs 5x your bodyweight. So if you weigh 100 pounds, your knee is absorbing 500 pounds with each step. Because of this, your knees {and other joints} can wear out if you don’t treat them well. Cross-training includes swimming, biking, weight lifting, yoga, aerobics, or any other workout besides running. Including these activities is important in order to strengthen the muscles around your running muscles. People who incorporate strength training also see changes to their bodies, lose weight, build bone mass {especially in those 40+ years}, have more energy, sleep better, are less stressed, etc.

3. Pre-hydrate, hydrate, rehydrate
{I don’t really think pre-hydrate is a thing, but it sounds good.} Be sure you’re drinking an ounce of water for half your bodyweight everyday {so if you weigh 200 pounds, drink 100oz. of water}. Your body will operate much better if you’re adequately hydrated. Then while you’re working out be sure you’re drinking 4-6 oz. for every 20 minutes. Don’t drink so much that your stomach feels uncomfortable or like it’s going to explode {been there}. After your workout, be sure you’re rehydrating. This one can be tricky because it’s hard to gauge how much fluid you need to replenish, but I always try to make sure I drink until my body temperature goes down to normal again.

Skratch Labs has some of the best products to rehydrate!

2. Fuel. The end.
Fuel includes proper nutrition before, during and after the run. For example, make sure your source of carbs isn’t french fries or onion rings. Instead, eat a sandwich {or my personal favorite, a big sweet potato} 2-3 hours before your run. Although keep in mind, depending on how far you run depends on how much you should eat. Don’t fall into the trap that a lot of runners do where they gain weight because they’re eating more than they’re burning.

During a long run (>90 minutes or so) it’s important to consume calories to help your body run {literally} more efficiently. Items like GU, Shot Bloks, Honey Stinger among other running fuels and gels can give you energy {and help sustain energy} to help you push through the harder moments of your runs. 

Fuel can make or break your run. If you’ve had adequate nutrition your run can so smoothly. If  you haven’t, it might feel like your car is running out of gas.

1. Don’t compare yourself to other runners {or other people, for that matter}
Look, running is hard, especially in the beginning. But even experienced runners have tough runs. Don’t compare yourself to them. There are so many elements that go into a successful/unsuccessful run, many of which I’ve listed above. Food, water, weather, clothes, mood, ability, physical condition, etc. all play a major role. But besides that, every BODY is different. Some people can run faster because their legs are longer, or they can breathe easier while running than others, or some bodies take 2 minutes to warm up and others takes 3+ miles. When comparing yourself to others {whether you’re running or comparing another aspect of your life} you’re telling yourself that you’re not good enough. That’s the best part of running – after a run, you KNOW you’re good enough to call yourself a runner. Set realistic goals to help you build this confidence in yourself. Tie up your shoes and don’t look back, no matter how long or how far you can run.

Let’s chat!

  • What are some things you wish you would have known when you first started running?
  • What else would you add to this list?


8 thoughts on “10 things I wish I would have known when I first started running

  1. Annmarie says:

    This is great! I just started running regularly this season and while I have come a long way in the last several months (currently training for a half marathon), I still have a lot to learn. I have found that hydration and fuel are key to my best runs and am still playing around with my favorite way to refuel mid-run! Love these tips- thanks so much for sharing 🙂


  2. Brittany Bowen says:

    What a great list! Too many people jump on the running bandwagon without a good pair of shoes and the ability to listen to their bodies. This is key. The importance of increasing mileage slowly and knowing yourself (and your limits) cannot be over stressed. Even a well-trained runner can overlook these things and end up with a life-changing injury, so it's important to go into it with the right attitude. I learned this the hard way!


  3. Faith and Margaritas says:

    Yes! That's so common! I've noticed that the miles sneak up on me and I'll have run 50-100 miles past what I should have in those shoes. As a matter of fact, I didn't know about switching shoes routinely when I first started running, so I ran about 250 miles past what I should have!


  4. Kristen says:

    Great list! I still need help reminding myself how to fuel before/during/after runs and I've been running for a few years now! Running is definitely harder than it looks!


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