Tips For The Novice Runner

New to running? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one! I never ran in my life prior to joining the Air Force then all of a sudden I had to run 2 miles in an allotted amount of time. Going from zero to two miles seemed exhausting but looking back I can tell you it’s not so bad! I thought I couldn’t do it myself and never, ever, ever imagined I’d EVER run a marathon.

So, here are some tips because I was once in your shoes!

1. Do a little at a time!

You need to get your body acclimated to running. This involves getting use to being outside, working muscles that are not use to being worked, eating the right foods, etc…So don’t overwork yourself in the beginning because you may end up hurting yourself.

2. Trick your brain!

I’d say one of the biggest complaints people have about running, especially when getting started, is they are BORED! Well, change your attitude about it! Honestly, all you have to do is distract your brain. Keeping your brain busy will get you through a run. That’s why a lot of people prefer to run with music. Running, when done casually/leisurely, is a great escape from day to day life. It’s a great time to think about things and in many ways can be therapeutic—but you have to learn to appreciate being outside. Nature is beautiful =) I promise if you keep it up you’ll have a better appreciation for the great outdoors!

3. You’re not gonna die!

You may be tired, but you’re not gonna die! You may feel sick, but you’re not gonna die! You may want to quit, but DON’T! Do you know why? You’re not gonna die! Running, in the moments of actually doing it, can make a person want to stop. But most of the time that is all mental! Your mind can be evil sometimes =) Think about it…deep down you could keep moving but you convince yourself to stop, and so you do. Well DON’T! Suck it up! After all, you’re not gonna die!

Think of it like this-you just have to keep your body moving…and you certainly can! Don’t think about the miles, that’ll get you nowhere at first! We use to migrate across continents! People didn’t know how far they were going, they just went as far as they could. Our bodies are living machines! I promise you can get through just about anything. Just be concerned with moving.

Basically, you need to build up both your respiratory system and cardiovascular system. Your lungs need to get use to heavier breathing and circulating oxygen to your body. Your heart needs to adapt to pumping more blood though its valves and circulating blood throughout your body. In the process, your body will even form new blood vessels to help with your blood flow and circulation. If you stop to walk that is okay!! No matter what it is better than sitting on the couch =) Don’t get discouraged you’ll be able to do it without stopping eventually!

4. Stretch Afterwards!

Stretching is important to free the lactic acid that builds up in your muscles. This is what causes the feeling of soreness or tightness usually the next day after working out. Stretching beforehand isn’t recommended unless you’ve done some type of warm up. Ever wonder why people run before a run?? They are loosening up their bodies so they move faster during a race. If you stretch without a warm up you create microscopic tears in your muscles which is the perfect cite for acid to camp out.

5. Nutrition/Hydration

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your body. Basically, you want to cut down on fatty, processed foods and eat more whole grains. Prior to a run eating a bagel, cliff bar, something light 2 hours prior to running is key. You need to fuel your body! If you eat just before running, you may feel nauseous, be burping up gross stuff, have an upset stomach…I mean, let’s face it, it’s just uncomfortable.

A good gauge of the amount of calories you burn without having to do complicated math is about 100 cal/mile. This is obviously going to change dependent on the person, their body size, metabolism, etc..but it’s a good gauge. Just make sure you are getting enough calories so you don’t feel tired, but not too much because you don’t want to be full or bloated.

Also, ever get a cramp? They are typical in the abdomen or legs, but can happen in any muscle-mainly the large ones. The main reason for this is a sodium deficiency. Drinking substances like Gatorade help maintain electrolytes in your body. When you are done with a run, getting protein in will help heal your muscles because you just abused the heck out of them…protein helps in recovery. Carbs help give fuel back to your body. And drinking something to replace the fluids you just lost from sweating is important. You don’t just sweat out water…I mean, that’s why we taste salty…we lose other nutrients so you need to replace them.

6. Equipment

You’ve already got most of the equipment: feet, legs…now shoes are obviously your biggest expense. Don’t go cheap, your main concern should be proper fit. It should feel like you have nothing on your feet. Go half a size larger than your normal size, this leaves room for movement and some swelling which your feet will experience when running. Improper fit could lead to blisters, pain, toenails falling off, etc…these happen for some people regardless of fit, but improper fit can cause this as well. Contact your local running store for help!

About Jonathan

Jonathan is a distance runner, cyclist and aspiring triathlete. With no formal training or running background Jonathan emerged on the local running scene in the spring of 2010 at the age of 27. Quick to get involved with local runners and pick up guidance, Jonathan saw efficient returns on his efforts and began to constantly ramp up training. With quick improvements, Jonathan was soon running sub 3:00 marathons and helping others get fit and fast. Jonathan has become heavily involved in the lower Hudson Valley running scene and founded Hudson Valley Running in 2013 to help other aspiring athletes get started and improve. Jonathan is currently an active member of Rockland Road Runners, New York Road Runners, USATF, Outer Loop Running Club, and 50 States Marathon Club.