Wednesday, June 04, 2014

26 Running Lessons Learned

I started running in January of 2013. I was set to turn 40 in August and I was motivated to set new fitness goals. I decided to work toward running a 5k. I ran a 5k that March and then I kept going. Much to my surprise, I discovered a love for running. In April of 2014, I completed my first marathon. A week before my marathon, I was asked to share about my running experience with my running group. I've changed and learned so much since I started running. I am a better person because I run. I am in better shape. I am more confident. And, quite simply, I am happier.

In honor of National Running Day and my 1st marathon, here are my 26 Running Lessons Learned:

1. It gets easier.
The more you run, the easier it is to run. Running 3 miles now is nothing like it was when I was working toward my first 5k.

2. Forget the past.
Being a runner is a mindset. If you run, you are a runner. Yesterday's run, whether better or worse, doesn't matter today. Focus on today’s run.

3. Do not underestimate the power of a good pair of shoes.
When I started running, I had an old pair of tennis shoes. They were probably about 10 years old. I ran my first 5k in them. Shortly after that, my knees starting hurting. Then, I went to a running store, had a running evaluation done, which determined that I pronate, and I found running shoes that work for me. About halfway into my marathon training, I started having a pain in the bottom of my foot. I decided the support in my shoes might be wearing out. I bought new shoes and the pain stopped. Do not underestimate the power of  good pair of shoes. A lot of pain can be caused by ill-fitted or worn out shoes.

4. All socks are not created equal.
Swiftwick socks rock. While I prefer Swiftwick, other runners prefer other brands. I bought some running socks at REI and they make my feet sweat. The bottom line is do not buy cotton socks; buy a good pair of wicking socks.

5. You can achieve what you want if you have a plan.
I was able to do a 5k, 10k and half marathon without a plan but I was clueless. I was fortunate. Having a plan to run a marathon made all of the difference in the world. I was prepared and I was confident.

6. Having a training schedule is good.
Following a training schedule gave me confidence. Even more important, my body was prepared for the distance.

7. Be flexible within your running schedule.
It is okay not to run, no matter what the schedule says. Life commitments get in the way. Give yourself freedom within your training.

8. Mix up your running surfaces.
My first trail run was a Lake Tahoe 4th of July 5k Run to the Beach. I thought I was going to fall and break my neck. My 12 year old thought it was the coolest thing ever. Since then I’ve learned that giving my legs a break from pavement is a very good thing. Now my favorite runs are trail runs.

9. Listen to your body.
All of the pains I had were related to something I was doing- like needing new shoes or needing to tie my shoes better. When you are in pain, rest and evaluate.

10. Don’t compare yourself to other runners.
There are faster runners. It doesn’t matter. You are a runner.
“Running is not about being better than anyone else. It is about being better than you used to be.”

11. Without a goal, you won't go anywhere.
For me, goals create benchmarks for me to measure my success and allow a sense of

12. Nutrition matters.
If you eat junk, you will feel like junk, and you will run like junk. On one of my shorter long runs while getting ready for the marathon, I thought to myself, “I only have 12 miles so I’ll go to my book club, eat heavy food and have that 2nd glass of wine.” – I felt like I had a rock in my stomach during those 12 miles.

13. Judge the effort, not the run.
There are two parts to this-
a) You are never running “just” anything (“just a 5k”). RUN the run you are running.
b) It’s the effort that matters. I’ve felt amazing and had a slow pace. I’ve felt terrible and had a
great pace.

14. Warm up.
It helps me to take a warm up run (jog) before a race or long run. This does 2 things- I feel
the outside conditions and know what I need (long vs short sleeves, gloves, etc) and I can stretch

15. Ice baths are a necessary evil after long runs.
I hate them. They are great for muscle recovery. Adding bubbles seems nice but doesn’t help. A
martini helps a little.

16. Sleep matters.
The more I’ve run, the more sleep I’ve needed. It took me awhile to accept that.

17. Dress for 20 degrees warmer than the temperature.
I read this and learned the hard way that this is true for me. Running long distances with a jacket
around my waist isn’t my idea of fun.

18. Plan a Happy Ending.
End runs with something you enjoy. But realize that your desires might have changed during the
run. I liken my long run “happy endings” to pregnancy cravings. I plan for it- bring something tasty to enjoy afterwards but sometimes my cravings are unpredictable and intense. After one long run, I was literally scrounging around my car for change to get a specific candy at a gas station.

19. Rest days matter. A body needs rest. Rest days matter.

20. The only thing that holds me back is my mind.
I’ve learned that a tremendous amount of my running is mental. My mental state can make or break
a run.

21. Eat 2 hours before a morning long run and get upright (walk around).
Or else. I relearn this often. On my most recent vacation, I made it back to our place for a pit
stop but it wasn’t the most enjoyable run.

22. Sometimes it is more fun to run with someone.
Before joining a running group, I had not run with someone else (at least not since high school and that was 22 years ago). I didn’t think I would like it. It has been amazing to have the support. Long runs go by so much faster when you can enjoy a conversation.

23. My body is incredible.
This pretty much sums it up: “The more I run, the more I love my body. Not because it is perfect,
far from it, but because with every mile it is proving to me that I am capable of more than I ever
thought possible.”

24. Have fun. I set goals. I try to get a personal record (PR) at a race. But, I can't forget to have fun. If I am too focused to enjoy the scenery around me on a run, I am missing out. If I can't smile at some point, even if it is just when I have finished a run that I didn't feel like doing, I need to check my motivation. Running should be fun. If it isn't, I need to do something different- slow down, get more sleep- something.

25. Running is all about me.
It’s sounds selfish. It’s the healthiest thing I have ever done. It’s my run. It’s my health. It is okay, in fact, fantastic, to be selfish about being healthy.

26. I am stronger than I think. If there's one thing that running has taught me, it is this: I am stronger than I think.

I am linking this post to Works-for-Me Wednesday.

1 comment:

RunReno said...

Jane, you are an incredible runner and amazing person! Your "lessons learned" are great! Enjoy the miles...