Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm no expert, but I do know this...

Considering how little I knew about running before I just jumped into my sneakers one day and took off, I think it's kind of funny that people actually ask me--me!--for running advice. I'm definitely still in the novice phase myself.

But I do have a few words of wisdom that might be helpful to anyone who actually knows less about running than me:

1. If you can't breathe, slow down. Your lungs are sore, you're out of breath, you just want to stop running and lie down on a couch? That means you're going wayyyy too fast. Go a lot slower. You might not win a race or outrun a tiger, but if your goal is to be able to run for more than 10 minutes, you need to find a comfortable pace and stick with it. You can worry about increasing your speed later--and the more you run, the faster you'll get. Eventually.

2. Don't eat rabbit food or junk food. If you aren't getting in enough calories, you won't have the energy to run. If you eat a giant Big Mac, all that fat is going to be jostling around your stomach with every step you take. Think sturdy combinations of carbs and lean proteins. The good news is that you don't need to eat rabbit food if you run regularly; the average person burns about 100 calories per mile. The bad news is you can't eat whatever you want, either; the average person, again, burns about 100 calories per mile. (Not 1,000.)

3. Don't bring out all your new goodies from Runner's Depot during one run. So you stocked up. You might be excited to try out your new Body Glide, sneakers, orthodics, Fuel Belt and running gels--just don't try them all out in one day. I have a funny story about making that mistake myself.

4. Listen to yourself. I can't even tell you how much advice people have been generous enough to offer me, much of it unsolicited--on everything from weight loss tips ("You should have gone on a diet before you began running; your calves wouldn't be so bulky if you began running when you were thinner") to what to think about while in motion ("Think about your form only, not what errands you have to run or about your aches and pains"--yeah, that'll work for five minutes, not five miles). In the end, I had to figure out what worked best for me.

So with that in mind, feel free to disregard items #1, #2, #3.

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