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Hit the Ground Running: Advice for New Runners {fitness friday}

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When I first started running, I was really overwhelmed by.. well, almost everything. Running itself is very intuitive – obviously, you just put on some clothes and go outside and put one foot in front of the other. That part was easy for me. What complicated it was when I started to read about it – what is NUUN? Do I need to spend $60 on a sports bra? Do I need to spend $150 on SHOES?! I’ve had to kind of laugh over the last few months as my friends have started to ask me how I got into running, what my advice is, things like that. When did I turn into someone who knows about running? While I’m certainly no expert, I have picked up some tips and tricks over the last year.

  • Shoes: Go to a specialty store to get fitted for running shoes, and be ready to pay over $100. It will be worth it! They’ll watch you walk and run around the store doing a gait analysis to figure out what type of runner you are (overpronator, underpronator, or neutral.) I definitely suggest a small local shop if there’s one in an hour drive of you – definitely steer clear of places like Dick’s or Foot Locker. If the shoe the staff originally suggests doesn’t feel right, tell them, and be specific on where it feels wrong. Be ready to have your heart broken when they say the design you are in love with is bad for your feet, or that the shoe they suggest doesn’t come in pink. (Me.)
  • Distance: I started on the elliptical, and by the time I was consistently logging 3 miles and feeling good, I moved over to the treadmill. I had been pretty sedentary for years before I finally decided to get off my duff, and if that’s true for you, please don’t lace up your shoes and try to go for a 3-mile sprint without any breaks or rests! I’ve directed many of my new-runner friends to apps with the Couch to 5k program, and I’m a big fan of Jeff Galloway (and now use his run-walk-run method myself.) Just listen to your body and if it hurts, especially when you’re starting, stop or slow down. It’s not worth getting hurt.
  • Clothing: If you take only two things away from this blog post, let them be these: a) GET FITTED FOR RUNNING SHOES! (yes, it really is that important.) and b) no, you do not need to pay $60 for a sports bra. I’ve tried expensive gear and more affordable stuff and I don’t see any difference really. You don’t even need to be spendy to get cute gear! I’ve gotten some of my favorite pieces from the bargain rack at Marshall’s, Target, and Old Navy. Be ready and willing to experiment – the brand that works for your favorite blogger might not be so good for you. I would say that if you’re running longer than about 5 miles, compression socks are a great second investment.
  • Accessories: The only real accessories I’d recommend for brand new runners would be headphones and maybe a good tracking app on your phone (Couch to 5k, Nike+, Map My Run, etc.) The more you get into it, you’ll figure out what you do or don’t need, so don’t go out and spend $50 on a Camelbak or a water belt – chances are you might not ever use one.
  • Nutrition: Nuun is an electrolyte replacement (like Gatorade, but with a lot less sugar) and it’s my friend after super sweaty gym sessions, and sweet potatoes energize me like nothing else. I would definitely recommend chocolate milk post-run: it’s great to replace much of what is lost through sweat and keep you from crashing and feeling crappy. If you’re just starting out or never plan to run anything longer than a 5 or 10k, you probably don’t need to worry too much about Sport Beans or GU. By the time you get to that point, you’ll have done so much reading that you’ll know when and how to refuel!
  • Motivation: This is going to be different for everyone, but I discovered pretty quickly that I am motivated by one thing: fear. Whether it’s fear that I’m going to be last in a race or that I’m going to lose out on $70 entry fees, I feel like fear is one of the chief motivators for me! I’m also motivated by cute new race outfits, bling, and being better than the people who made fun of me in high school. How many of them are running half marathons? (The answer is two.)

Of course these are just a few suggestions and ideas to get you out the door and on the road to feeling like a runner! Are you a new or seasoned runner? What advice do you have for those who are just starting their journey?