I’ve always been active. While I never really played sports (I studied dance for 19 years), I remember running the mile in gym class in elementary school for the fitness test. I still debate if what we ran was actually a mile, but too late now I guess. In high school we only had to take one semester of gym, which seems ridiculous looking back. I took it sophomore year and we ran the mile 3 or 4 times that semester. The goal was to improve throughout the course of the class.
Senior year, as a member of the National Honor Society, we hosted an annual 5k to raise money for a diabetes foundation. I not only helped plan it, but decided to run it too. It was my first organized race. Obviously our track team wasn’t participating since I won my age group 🙂 I didn’t realize then that participating in that race would lead to many more over the next decade.
While I’ve taken breaks from running over the years, whether intentional or not, it’s come to be an integral part of my life. It’s taught me a lot about myself, helped me meet some great people, and so much more. I’ve also learned, through trial and error, a bit about running. Here are 5 things I’ve learned, although I’m sure there is so much more.
1. Determine what motivates you.
People run for all sorts of reasons. Some people are just naturally gifted at it. Some people run to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Others run because they can or for those who can’t. It doesn’t matter what the reason is, just find something that motivates you. It may change over time, and that’s ok too.
2. Invest in good running shoes.
Running shoes are expensive, but the importance of getting fitted for a good running shoe can’t be measured. I’ve never met someone who could just walked into a Dick’s Sporting Goods, pull a shoe off the wall that they like and be good to go (unless of course that’s the shoe that actually fits them best). I’ve relied on Asics for the last six years and have been very happy with them. A friend of mine loves her Nikes, while another friend prefers Brooks. Whatever brand, whatever style, whatever color, just find what works best for you.
3. You don’t have to run races, but they can be fun (especially with friends).
Participating in races can be a lot of fun. It’s not for everyone, but sometimes you do one and catch the bug. It’s also a lot of fun with friends!
Races can be expensive, especially well known half and full marathons. While I try to do a few of those a year, I also enjoy running local 5ks and 10ks that benefit local organizations in my community. Entry fees for those range between $15-30 and it feels good to help out organizations offering services to folks in my community.
4. Consider cross training.
Cross training is really beneficial, not just to runners but any type of athlete. It can help strengthen other parts of the body important for running, like the core and upper body, as well as help with injury prevention. I like circuit training personally, but other people enjoy cycling, swimming, and other various activities.
5. Embrace the rest day.
When you look at a lot of training programs, there are usually built in rest days. Sometimes it can be hard to take a rest day. You don’t want to miss out on some extra training, or you’re not sure what to do with yourself since you’re used to being busy working out. Or, maybe it’s the day you look forward to most! Either way, embrace your day(s) off. Read a book, watch a movie, cook a special meal, spend time with a friend, relax. Whatever you do, embrace it whole heartedly.
Question: What have you learned from running?