New to Running? Tips for the Newbie and Uninitiated
Running is a very healthy, life-long habit that can improve your physical and mental well being throughout your life. When I was younger, I ran to stay in shape for tennis. I never timed my runs, bike rides, or laps in the pool. Nor did I really know how far I was swimming, biking, or running. However I did know how many unforced errors I committed in a match, my first serve percentage, and the tension of both the main strings and cross strings on my rackets.
That changed 4 years ago with the passing of my father. A picture of him skinny as a rail at roughly my age sent me into the gym 3 days a week on my lunch hour. It started with an unbearable 25 minutes on the elliptical and gradually worked up to 45 minutes to an hour. As my knees and ankles regained strength (and I rapidly shed 30 pounds) I took to the streets to pound on the pavement. The following is a collection of things I learned along the way that may help you if you seek to discover the nirvana that running has brought me.
Knowledge <sic> Begins Here
Theoretically, running is cheap. You just put on shoes and go run. But I will say this – properly fitted running shoes can make all the difference between happiness and an abandoned hobby.
Keep track of mileage on your running shoes. 300-500 miles is the lifespan of a typical shoe. Your mileage will vary depending on your weight. If you’re not religious about tracking miles, keep track of how many months you’ve run in them. After 6 months of even limited sweat and pounding, the cushioning will become worn out and replacement will make you happy again.
If you get to where you’re running for more than 30 minutes, a technical running shirt will work wonders for you. Cotton just isn’t comfortable once you get sweaty since it’s not a wicking fabric.
Compression shorts with a spandex / polyester mix will work wonders from the waist down. Old schoolers wear the short shorts where your ass hangs out. If you don’t mind my snickering at you, you can too.
Guys – your nipples may bleed. They will hurt like hell. Suck it up and be a man. NipGuards work really well, as does Body Glide and Vaseline.
In general, friction sucks – but it’s inevitable. Members of both sexes should coat the appropriate friction points with Vaseline or Body Glide. I won’t tell you all the points, use your imagination here. You may not find some until you’re standing in the shower after a run and feel the salt from your skin pour into an open wound. GOOD MORNING!
If you’re running more than 40 minutes, you definitely need water. If it’s exceptionally hot or cold, you should probably carry water on runs of more than 20 minutes. Hydration is as important as a pair of properly fitted running shoes. Drink before you are thirsty. I carry a Fuel Belt on all my long runs. It comes with a pocket to store Gu and keys while you’re running.
General wisdom these days is that unless it’s exceptionally hot or you are running more than 2 hours, you should just be drinking water. Sports drinks are good at replenishing electrolytes, but they are usually sweetened by high fructose corn syrup, much like most colas on the market. Research and personal experiences suggest that your body metabolizes this sugar substitute differently and that may have an adverse affect on your diet.
The remaining tips are really for running races.
The finish line is not the stopping point. You need to keep moving through the chute. I repeat DO NOT STOP AT THE FINISH LINE. I will run your ass over ’cause I can’t just stop.
It’s great that you want to run a race with your kids. I highly encourage it. I also suggest that you start towards the back of the pack. Your 8 year old is not going to be able to hold a 7 min/mile pace for very long. Those people around him/her will not appreciate the sudden stop as we are running 7 min/mile and can’t just stop.
Look around at the starting line and seed yourself according to your ability. If you’re not going out at a 5 minute per mile pace, you shouldn’t be on the start line. If you’re not going out at 6 min/mile, you shouldn’t be able to see the ass of anyone on the starting line. Starting at 7 minutes / mile?? You shouldn’t see anything below the shoulders of the people on the starting line. These are general guidelines, but you catch my drift.
Hopefully I haven’t scared you off. That wasn’t my intention – instead I wanted to prepare you for some of the lessons I learned the hard way. Don’t worry – you’ll still get to experience the pain of a sawed-off nipple (guys) or a sports bar strap rubbing your back raw (ladies); having this information and then heeding the advice are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!