I have a friend who just started running. She’s been picking my brain, asking me questions about shoes, GPS watches, training plans, and all the other things that runners get hooked on once they get the running bug. I’m so excited for her but there’s a part of me that wants to say, “Girl, lemme tell you something!”
Years ago, when I started running, there were tons of things I wish I knew about running. I thought it was so simple – put on shoes and run. Haha – how silly of me! It can be that simple but when you get into it, you start to crave all the little extra’s.
Her questions reminded me of all the things no one tells you about running before you became a runner. I originally posted this list almost 4 years ago but I added some more tidbits. I’m sharing this with my friend. I feel like it’s my runner duty to let her know running will change her in so many ways.
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.
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.
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.
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. I quickly learned what Runner’s Trots were all about. But as time went on, my digestive system, along with everything else, got conditioned to the mileage.
7. You will go to the bathroom NOT in a bathroom. A LOT. Dropping a deuce in the woods, popping a squat behind a tree, holding your breath in Port-a-Potties…welcome to the glamorous side of running. Because when you gotta go, YOU GOTTA GO!
8. 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!
9. You will sweat more than you ever thought possible. Hot, hazy, humid summer runs will leave your clothes looking like you went for a swim. Even single digit, cold AF winter runs, will leave you so sweaty. It’s a part of the running game.
10. Your laundry pile will grow even bigger. Especially during the winter months when you need more layers.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. You will come up with AMAZING ideas on your run. I do some of my best thinking while on a run. If I have a problem,a good run will help me sort it out. Ron always gets worried when I come home from a run and the first thing I say is, “I was thinking on my run…” That usually means some big project. Hopefully, you will remember all your ideas unlike me. I usually forget 90% of it when I get thrown back into mom mode the moment I walk through the door.
14. 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 an IPOS. Yoga, cycling, weights, swimming, Barre, whatever it is that you enjoy, do it in addition to running to keep your body balanced and hopefully injury free. It’s also a great way to have a “back up” in case you do get injured.
15. 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. Tighten your ponytail, give yourself a confidence boosting pep talk, and get back in the game.
16. 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, even if you never run one single race,you are a runner.
17. 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.
18. Running can break your heart. My heart has been broken a few times from running. An injury, a disappointing race, a soul crushing run where nothing feels right. But I still keep going back to it. Why? Because I love it.
What was something you wish you knew before you started running?
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