My Top 10 Ways of Becoming a Better (or Beginner) Runner this Spring
I don’t know if you guys knew this or not, (you probably do if you’ve read my story!) but I didn’t always used to love running like I do now. Back in the day, my mom was the runner (she still runs! #goals) and I was the one who was forced to run the mile in school. I remember the four laps around our home school co-op feeling torturous and never wanting to run again. I think my best time was around a 10 min mile.
Then one day, everything changed….
Actually, not really. Running is a PROCESS and you don’t became a great, seasoned, or even average runner over night. It takes a lot of practice, a lot of failed attempts, a lot of sunburns, black toenails, and disappointing runs to become a better runner than the runner you are now.Especially where I am at right now, postpartum, running is a whole new, exciting, sometimes intimidating beast!
Today, I wanted to share my TOP 10 favorite ways to become a better or even a beginner runner!
- Don’t focus too much on pace, instead focus on form. This is something that I’m constantly working on, because I am SO competitive (especially with myself) and I want to run as fast as I can or as fast as I used to any run and every run. But this is NOT the best way to run. Especially if you are wanting to grow in your running or start running, in order to actually build speed, you need a solid base and that base isn’t build on you (or me) pounding ourselves into the ground and demanding our bodies to run X amour of miles per min. Instead, focus on your form- how are your hands? Clenched, relaxed, swinging, not swinging? How is your breathing? Is it consistent or are you gasping for breath? How are you landing? Are you heel striking or landing on the balls of your feet? All these things are SO important and will help you build a base so you CAN run fast and PROPERLY!
- Please warm up, cool down, and stretch. I am SO preaching to the choir here. In all honesty, I am not very good about doing this, but I know this is why I’ve gotten injured a few times in a row now. It is so important to make sure your muscles are properly warmed up and ready to get broken down while you run and it is just as important to cool down and stretch afterwards to avoid injury! You guys need to make sure to keep me accountable. Okay?
- Set goals that are achievable but also, inspiring. I love setting goals and as a runner, nothing feels better than accomplishing a specific running goal (i.e. nailing a five mile run, finishing your first race, etc.) I think there are two pitfalls that you can make while goal setting for running. One: your goals are not manageable for the amount of time you can put into running or where you are at in your running career. It is so easy for me to see another runner accomplish their first Iron Man (or Iron Woman) race and for me to think “I should do that too.” Is that wrong? No. But it can be an unreasonable goal for a season that you are in. Right now, me trying to do an Iron Woman wouldn’t be realistic since I have a six month old and have yet do even to a triatholan. The second pitfall is to make your goals too small. For me, I can (and probably should) set a goal to run a 5k this summer, but if I make that my only goal it would be too small. Right now, I’m setting a goal of running my first marathon this fall. This goal will definitely take work and time, but I think it is a balanced goal. Yes it will stretch me, but yes, it can be done.
- Do NOT only run. If I could only run and never have to work out any other way, I think I would be fine with that. (Although I have recently fallen in love with Pilates, HIIT workouts and Plyometrics.) As runners, it is so easy to just run and forget about cross training. But, cross training and strength training is so important to help improve our running speed/ endurance, aid in recovery, and help protect against injuries. A few of my favorite forms of cross training are : biking, walking, and swimming and some of my favorite forms of strength training are: lifting, plyometric body weight exercises, HIIT workouts, and Pilates. (Also, cross training cardio workouts that are not running and strength training is exercise that focuses on strengthening, toning, and building muscle.)
- Pick a race and run it! I think the very first time I truly fell in love with running was when I ran my very first 5k. I LOVED the feeling of being around tons of other runners, seeing the crowd cheer people on, and feeling like an athlete. I think I ran my very first race in a cotton t-shirt, shoes that weren’t even technically running shoes, and non running pants. I may not have looked like a runner at that race, but I felt like one. Races are a great place to find community and see just how broad the sport of running is. Also, don’t let races scare you! You don’t have to race in a race. Races are for everyone.
- Eat to fuel your body. Let’s be honest, runners eat a lot. And people who run a lot need to eat enough to fuel their bodies! Over my years as a runner, I’ve learned many things about fueling! 1: You need to eat enough. I used to run and not fuel properly and it really affected how I felt throughout the day and how my runs went. 2: You need to fuel, properly. Sure, you can eat junk and run, but if you do, your runs won’t go nearly as well, feel nearly as good and you most likely, won’t get the results you want. Fueling for running isn’t a magical formula, (well, I guess race morning there is…) but it’s more about eating good, healthy whole foods and enjoying treats here and there!
- Do do speed work. I know in my first tip, I talked about not paying too much attention to pace. However, once you build a nice solid base to your running it is time to add some speed work in. There are many benefits to speed work, but the most obvious one is what we are going to chat about for a second: getting faster. I like to add strides to my runs and run at a fast pace for either a certain distance or a certain time. These runs are usually preformed once per week and add a great dimension to your running and definitely give you an edge!
- Invest in some good shoes. I learned this mistake the hard way. I wore my beloved Mizuno Wave Rider 15s for hundreds and hundreds of miles (not an exaggeration) and about two or three weeks out from my half marathon, I got injured. Que the tears, frustration, and panic. Praise the Lord, my injury healed and I was able to run the race, pain free. It was during the time I was injured, I learned that you should get new running shoes every 300-500 miles. Now this seems like a ton of miles and it would take forever to get there, but if you are in training, you would be surprised how quickly new shoes are needed. If you are training for a marathon and averaging 30 miles per week, you need new shoes about every three months. It is an investment, but it’s worth your health, right? Right.
- Find a running buddy! I used to love solo running (and still do!) but it’s amazing how running with a friend makes such a difference. Landon and I run used to run a lot together and although it is harder now with Benaiah, I’m looking forward to many training runs together. I also just found out that a local running store in our area has group runs and I’m super excited about joining that soon! If you aren’t married or don’t have a running store around your area, see if you can find any friends that either are runners or want to get started running. It’s amazing how when you run with a friend, it’s encouraging, motivating and it keeps you accountable!
- Enjoy it. Lastly, and I know this sounds cliche, but enjoy the journey of running. Like I said before, running is magical, but you don’t become great overnight. Running takes work, but the journey to become a proficient runner is hard, beautiful, sweaty, tiring, and a lot of fun! I have by no means arrived, but with every twist and turn I’m trying to enjoy it and savor each run.
There you have it! My top favorite ways to become a better or even a new, beginner runner! I hope you guys have a fantastic Monday and I’ll catch you tomorrow with my weekend recap post!
Questions of the Day
- Are you a runner? What are your top tips?
- Have you ever run in a race?
- What are your favorite brand of running shoes?