What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Running

What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Running happyfitmama.com

When I started running, there were tons of things I wish I knew about running. Like that I would watch running on TV.  Never thought that would happen!

How’s your running inspiration right now?

Mine is through the roof after watching the Boston Marathon coverage on TV and tracking friends on Monday.

It’s crazy how it was so warm on Monday and yesterday it was 50 and overcast.  Why couldn’t the runners have that weather on Monday? For the majority of my friends running, their goal times got pushed to the side after a few miles in.  It was too freakin’ hot. Their new goal was to run smart and enjoy the sights and sounds of Marathon Monday.

For a few other friends, it turned into their worst nightmare.  As someone who has been there, done that, my heart ached for them.  It’s never easy to get your first DNF but it’s a million times harder to accept when it’s Boston. Now I know what it was like for my friends and family who were tracking me and abruptly saw me stall early on in the race.  It sucked not knowing what was going on.

We had the marathon coverage on in the gym at work all day. I was glued to the screen.  A few patients made the typical non-runner comments –

Why are these people doing that to themselves? Running is so bad for them.  They are going to need new knees by the time they are 40. I don’t even like to drive 26 miles.

It’s amazing that my tongue wasn’t bleeding from all the biting I had to do. I had to remind myself that most of these people have never been a runner and never will be. They don’t get it.  From the outside, I’m sure it does look crazy. I’m sure I even thought running a marathon was crazy before I became a runner.

It reminded me of all the things that no one told me before I became a runner. I originally posted this list almost 3 years ago but had to add more to it.

1. Running is hard. We’ve all seen the magical runner gliding down the street making it look effortless. Running isn’t easy. It’s down right hard work. But once you get started, find a flow, it does get easier. In the beginning, the thought of running one continuous mile seemed impossible. Conditioning of the body and the mind will happen if you stick with it.

Seacoast running | HappyFitMama.com

2. Running requires patience. For most runners, it takes years and years of putting in hard work to get faster to become a more efficient. When setting a goal race or time, you need to build that sweat equity before it comes a reality. Building new muscle and expanding your VO2 max requires patience.

3. Running is not a cheap sport. When you start running, you think all I need is shoes, bottoms, tops, and a sports bra (for the ladies) to run. While that’s very true, you will find yourself at some point wanting more. A GPS watch, more shoes, more gear for every possible weather event, hydration systems, fuel belts, mid run fuel, running magazine subscriptions and let’s not forget race entries. Running is not cheap.

What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Running | happyfitmama.com

4. Never say never when it comes to running a marathon or an ultramarathon. I don’t know how many friends I have heard say they will NEVER run a marathon or further. And then guess what? They do. I’ve learned to never say I’d NEVER do…because you just never know.

5. Running with others will make you a stronger runner. When I first started running, I ran mostly by myself. But then I decided to run with a group for occasional training runs. They motivated me to get out of my comfort zone. I learned that I could actually run faster than I thought I could. My running friends that I’ve made over the years have become some of my greatest friends.  They may even know more about me than my non-running friends.  There’s just something about running with others.

running buddies | happyfitmama.com

6. Your digestive system may go crazy once you start logging more miles. When I started upping my mileage training for my first half marathon, I found that my tummy was unhappy a lot mid run or post run. But as time went on, my digestive system, along with everything else, got conditioned to the mileage.

7. Your feet will never look the same. No one ever told me that my feet would get bigger when I started running longer distances.  I was a size 7 (sometimes 6.5) and am now a 7.5 (regular shoes) and 8.5 running shoes. No one ever told me that my feet would have gnarly callouses.  Thankfully, I have never had a black toenail but I know plenty of runners that have. I always feel the need to apologize and state that
“I’m a runner” as a PDA whenever I get a pedicure.

Ironically, you will post more pics of your feet on social media than ever before. Go figure!

mom and daugher Saucony Running Shoes | happyfitmama.com

8. What works for your friend will not necessarily work for you. Just because a certain type of shoe or mid run fuel works for your friend, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Get properly fitted for a shoe. Do the work in finding a fuel that works just for you. One size does not fit all.

9. Running is way more mental than muscle. Of course you need to train your muscles to successfully run but training your brain is just as important. I don’t know how many times my brain has run out of energy before my body while running. Building mental toughness is always a work in progress.

What I wish I knew before I started running | happyfitmama.com

10. Don’t just run. Variety is what will keep you running longer. I love running but I can not run 7 days a week. I know there are some people out there that can do it, but the majority of us can not. I need to do other forms of exercise to counter balance my running muscles otherwise I’m on the injured reserve list. Yoga, cycling, weights, swimming, Barre, whatever it is that you enjoy, do it in addition to running to keep you body balanced and hopefully injury free. It’s also a great way to have a “back up” in case you do get injured. I’m even thinking of keeping pool running around after I come back from my current injury.

11. There will be some runs that suck and make you want to quit running. Everyone has horrible running days. If you know someone who doesn’t, they are lying. When it happens, all you can do is shake it off and move on to the next run. It will get better. Some even think that bad runs usually mean that you are on the brink of a running break through. Fix you ponytail and get back in there.

Fix my ponytail and find my strong | happyfitmama.com

12. If you run, you are a runner. I can’t recall the exact moment that I felt like a “real” runner.  Maybe it was when I completed my first race?  Prior to that, I never said I was a runner.  I ran but it was more casual, for fun.  It’s like people who say they only smoke when they drink. They aren’t smokers, right?  Sorry peeps, you are a smoker.  And if you run, you are a runner.

13. Running is way more than just exercise. At some point running switched over from being a way to stay in shape to just being a part of who I am. Without it, I feel off, not like myself.  It makes me feel calm, peaceful and overall happier.

Hawaii Run | happyfitmama.com

14. Running can break your heart. My heart has been broken a few times from running. An injury, a disappointing race.  But I still keep going back to it. Why?  Because I love it.

Linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday and Coaches’ Corner.

What do you wish you knew before you started running?




30 comments on “What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Running

  1. Nodding my head to each of these. Running crept up on me and before I knew it, I was in love. But I never saw it coming. Ever. Running gave me a life that I never would have known otherwise.

  2. If someone had told me these things before I started running I don’t think I would have believed them! But I definitely agree. Its so much more than just exercise, which is one of the reasons I think its so hard to be injured- even though we can exercise in other ways, its not the same.
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted..7 Mistakes To Avoid At Your Next RaceMy Profile

    1. I have a friend who ran for years but she had to stop running because of an injury (something that did not happen from running). She turned to cycling and loves it but says that she’d give anything to be able to run again. You can get the same feeling from running with cycling but it takes much, much longer to get there.

  3. SO many truths in this post – love it! Running has definitely taught me patience and made me realize I am more than I ever though capable!

  4. I cannot think of one single thing to add to this! You are so right on, of course, because you have been doing it for so long!! I find myself missing “just” running these days and so, when I do get out there with just my running shoes, I’m so much more appreciative!
    Watching the marathon was just amazing. I loved being able to actually sit down and take it all in!!!…although my heart broke for Desi. I really thought she was going to it.
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown – Spring BreakMy Profile

  5. I loved all of these and couldn’t agree more! I’ve only been running for about 2 years now and just can’t believe how much my life has been changed from it – especially having gone through 2 marathons and 4 months of injury now. Kara Goucher’s quote sums things up pretty well! “”Nothing in my life has ever broken my heart the way running has. And yet I cannot breathe without it.”

  6. I was nodding along in agreement the whole time – you got them all! I was adamant that I would not run a marathon but sure enough, I signed up for one…and the another. I think no one expects before they start running just how transformative it will be.

  7. Loved this post!!! So true in all aspects!!
    And I was one who said I would never run a marathon and I did….still surreal to me…so much in fact that some day when I am healthy again I want to do it again!! And, I got to meet you by running my first marathon!!!!

    1. And how many people get to say their first marathon was in Hawaii? So cool. I’m glad you took the leap and said yes to your first marathon otherwise I’d never have met you.

  8. Oh my poor feet. I definitely had no idea how much they’d be changing! These are all true… it costs more than you think and beats up you in ways you never expected but at the end of the day it’s totally worth it!

  9. Great post! I love all of these points, but especially the one about running with others making you stronger. I used to always run alone about 3 years ago because I was afraid to run with others (too slow, not good enough, etc.) Finally I joined a group run, loved it and kept running with them. Now they are some of my closest friends and I have training buddies for support. So awesome!

    1. It’s kind of funny that everyone (and I mean everyone) has the same feelings about running with others. That’s proof that there’s nothing to worry about.

  10. Oh, so much to love and agree with in this post! After spectating Boston this past weekend, I can’t help but think-“Never say never”, to another marathon. I’ve only run one full marathon, but now I am thinking I might want to look at one or two more to qualify for Boston. . . Great points in this post!
    Kara A. Forrest recently posted..Running and Teaching IntersectMy Profile

    1. Leave it to Boston to stoke the marathon fires! Lol. I think spectating that race would make anyone want to train for a marathon.

  11. I totally agree with all of these! I NEVER thought I’d be able to run more than 4 miles at a time. And then I ran a half marathon!

  12. LOVE every point on the list. I love the community aspect of running – I’ve made some awesome friendships from run clubs!

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