What Every New Runner Should Know

When people find out I am a runner, I get this question asked to me quite often by non-runners.  How does a person start running? or What do I need to know before I start?

While the immediate thought is, just do it, go out and start running.  Which has been my reply many times in years past.  One day I realized that is kind of terrible advice for me to give someone!  While running is for the most part a simple sport, there are a few things that someone considering starting running should know or may want to know to help them out.

So if you are a new runner, or want to start. This is my list of things I would tell you if we sat down for a chat about running!

It's okay to walk

When your first starting out, it's okay to walk.  If you can only run 50 feet, and then have to walk a few minutes to catch your breath before trying again, that is fine!  In fact more than fine!
Most people don't just lace up, run out the door and come back 5 miles later.  Doing it right takes time to build up.  It will get easier as time passes, and the walking will become less and less.

Buy good shoes

If you think running is something you want to stick with.  Then the time to buy good shoes is something you should do sooner rather than later.  Don't go to a department store, or shopping center. Go to a running specialty store, and have them fit you for the first time.  They usually offer this service for free.  Even if you don't end up buying your shoes there, just going through the experience will teach you a lot about your feet and what you should be running in.

Skip the cotton clothing

Those t-shirts that are so comfy to sit around in at home and do housework in, are not for running. Cotton usually equals chaffing, and bad chaffing could turn anyone away from running.  You can cut down that chaffing considerably by avoiding cotton and instead wear a moisture wicking type of fabric.
You don't have to spend a fortune to get these fabric's either.  In fact places like Walmart sell them, I myself have even bought a tank or shirt for under $10 there that has worked great for me for training.

For women buy a good bra

This is one of those things, I am going to say you really shouldn't spare expense on.  A great sports bra can make a huge difference, especially if you are a B, C or larger cup size.
Not only that, but you're going to feel a whole lot better about yourself if you are in a good supportive sports bra and not bouncing around.

Potty Breaks & Water Stops.

It happens to all runners, you are out on your run and it hits you and you need a bathroom and sooner the better.  Always go before you go out for a run.  But while you are out running, pick routes that if the situation arises you can get to a bathroom.

Sometimes we start out thinking it's not too hot, or we won't be too long and then we run further or it gets hotter.  It's also wise to pick routes where you can find water.
You don't have to carry water on you, unless you have no other choice I actually don't recommend carrying water, who would want the sloshing weight? No one!   Instead as long as you have access to water every 3-4 miles you will be fine.

Watch what you Eat & Drink.

While yes you did go out and burn lots of calories.  If you go home and drink a sports drink or go out for a big dinner.  You just undid all those calories you burned.  In fact unless you are running 16+ miles I would avoid drinking sports drinks, as they are filled with more calories than most people burn in a run.
If you want to lose weight while running, you still need to watch your calories.  Make sure you don't train your brain to think I ran therefore I can eat whatever I want.  Because if you do, you will actually gain weight running!

Injuries can happen.

Most often injuries will happen not while running.  But when stretching before you are warmed up. Or overstretching or stretching to far.  Proper stretching is just a light pull, you don't want anything to hurt.
Runners Knee isn't necessarily really a runners injury.  It's generally quite preventable.  Things that can cause it to new runners: Overweight runners running to far, weak knees that don't get rest between runs, wearing the wrong shoes.
Speed training too soon or while building mileage can cause injury, or even building mileage too quickly.
If you feel injured stop a few days, if the problem persists visit a Dr.
However, many runners can go years or even a lifetime without an injury, it's all about playing it smart and safe!

Know a Marathon from a 5k

Okay, you may not have to know this day one.  But if you go into work the next day after your 3 miler and tell people you ran a marathon.  You didn't and you'll sound kinda crazy!  A marathon is 26.2 miles, and I know this sounds funny but if you call any distance shorter than that a marathon to a runner who races you'll sound very inexperienced.  Since this post is to educate a non-runner here you go.
Each race has their distance.
A marathon 26.2 miles
Half is 13.1 miles.
10k is 6.2 miles.
5k is 3.1 miles.

Along with that, know what equals a mile on an outdoor track.
1 mile = 4 laps
(Indoor tracks vary usually on most 11-12 laps = a mile.)

Enter a Race

I remember my friend once saying to me she was worried if she entered a race she would come in last.  If you train, you won't!
Races these days are so full with walkers or people who run/walk.  So the chances of coming in last are really rare.  And if by chance it happens and you do, who cares you did more than the guy sitting at home catching up on Netflix!

Running on the Road

Assume all drivers are not paying attention.  Most drivers are distracted whether on the phone or with others in the car.  Always make sure you run against traffic.  If you come to an intersection ALWAYS stop even if you have the right of way.  Eye the drivers around and if you are going to run out in front of a car, watch for eye contact and waive that you are going or make sure they are fully stopped at a light first before stepping in front of them.
Never assume because the sign says walk, it's okay to cross.  Unfortunately there are a lot of idiots out on the roads, and if you get hit by a car you won't win!

Race Shirts

While this is my opinion, I think it is pretty safe to say that about 90% of runners in a race will agree with me.  Wear your race shirt after you finish the race!
If you wear it during, you'll look like a newbie runner.  I wish I could say all runners out there are super kind, but unfortunately there are some not so kind out there.  I'd hate for a new runner to be subject to the "you haven't earned the shirt yet, why are you in it."  While I would never say that to anyone outloud, I have heard it from others and I would hate for any new runner to be subject to any negativity.

Plus, not all race shirts are good quality. You never want to run in something that you haven't ran in and tested before (see chaffing above.)
Also there are some pretty long lived superstitions about wearing a race shirt during a race, that range from both increasing your chances of not finishing and even bad luck injuries:)

Of course there are always those who like to do things their way, and don't care about bad luck or superstitions.  So if you really want to wear that race shirt for the race. no one is going to stop you.
But if you do remember that you'll make it even harder for your family/friends to find you in the race.

Okay, so those are my tips that every new runner should know.  If you're a runner, feel free to add to the list in the comments below.  What advice would you give to someone who wants to start up running?

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