I wasn’t sure what to post about today, so I decided to compile a list of the 10 things I have learned about running since I started running about two years ago.
1. Training Plans are a Must!
When preparing for a race, it is essential to have a training plan in place. For my first big race (my half marathon last July in Chicago), I really don’t think I could have finished it without following my training plan. I had a little over a month to prepare for it, and I was running more miles than I ever had in my life. I knew that in order to cross that finish line, I had to find a training plan that I liked and stick to it. I searched online for a training plan I liked and found an 8 week plan pretty quickly. Then, I printed out June and July calendar sheets and wrote down the miles I had to do on each training day on the calendar. It really helped me to see the whole month at a time, and it was a very gratifying feeling to X-out the date once I was done with the run! But I would say every race you have, having a training plan is a great idea. Even if it is a short 5K, you can find a training plan that will help you run your fastest 5K and this could be very beneficial to you.
2. Don’t Be So Self-Conscious
When I first started running, I felt so self-conscious! I felt like everyone I would run by would be judging how I ran, and laughing on the inside about how slow I was! I would many times just run on the inside of parks where there weren’t as many people to avoid any one seeing me run! Now, I realize that other runners are not judging you – they are too focused on their own run to even worry about what you are doing. I figured out that it’s actually nice to run by people, because runners are usually friendly and will just smile or wave at a fellow runner which can be encouraging, especially on a tough run.
3. It’s Motivational to Have a Running Buddy
My running buddy is my sister Kathleen, and even though she lives in another state, it is very nice to have her support and motivation when I am tackling my runs. She knows what I’m going through and vice versa, so it encourages me a lot when I am struggling to follow my training schedule or experiencing difficulty with my runs. I actually prefer having a running buddy I can just talk to about running, instead of one that I actually run with because I like the time I have to myself while I am running, so it has been really great for me to have my sister to talk to.
4. Strength Training Really Helps
Ever since I added a regular strength training routine to my runs, I have definitely felt like I have become a better runner. Before I started strength training, I feel like I would get tired much quicker or I would experience more side cramps during my runs. Now I don’t experience these symptoms that frequently, and I have been able to have much more energy during my runs. I don’t do any crazy strength training either (I’m not trying to be a body builder!), but I feel like a regular routine for at least 30 minutes 3-4 days a week is definitely beneficial for any runner.
5. I Have a Slight Addiction to Workout Clothes
I love clothes in general, so it’s not a shock that I LOVE buying workout clothes! Exercise is so popular right now, so there are tons of stores that have added workout apparel to their lineup of clothes. I am constantly looking (not always buying!) for workout clothes online. And I always feel the need to buy a new outfit for my bigger races, so it is always fun for me to pick out a new outfit to run in. I don’t know why, but I am always motivated and seem to run better when I have new gear to run in!
6. Races Are So Much Fun!
Last year the St. Patrick’s Day Run in St. Louis was the first race I ever participated in. I remember feeling so terrified and unsure of what I was doing. The race itself went pretty well until the end where I got hit by a stroller (can you believe it?!?), but besides that, I felt instantly addicted to racing. Of course for many races you get the awesome swag and medals which is really cool, but I think my favorite part about races is the end when I find out what my time was. It is always such a great feeling when you post a PR, and it is by far what I like most about racing!
7. Always Challenge Yourself
A year ago, I would have never imagined that today I would be training for two half marathons and a marathon coming up in the first half of this year. Back then, I didn’t think those distances were even possible for an un-athletic girl like myself, but guess what? They are possible! Never say you can’t do anything or limit yourself. Because with hard work, you CAN get there even if it seems impractical.
8. If You Want to be Faster, You Have to do Speed Work
Speed work is a necessary evil to get to the next level. I remember attempting to do speed work for my second half marathon back in October, but giving up pretty quickly just because it was so difficult. Now, I know that doing speed work is what will get me to PR, and it’s work – it’s not going to fun, but it will be worth it!
9. You Aren’t Going to Have Your Best Run Every Day
It would be awesome if every time I went out there to run, I could follow my training plan to a tee and not experience any setbacks. But this is so unrealistic! I remember during my training for my first half, I would get so down with myself if my run didn’t go as planned, or if I had to walk a bit during the run because my body became fatigued. But now I know, this is all part of the process and every day is not going to be your best day. But the more you work at it, and the more you train, I have found out that I now have much more great running days as compared to bad running days (but I still do have bad ones, believe me!).
10. Blogging About Running is AWESOME 🙂
I’m so happy that Kathleen and I have started this running blog, because not only is it a cool thing that we can do together, but it has been so fun networking with fellow runners and reading about their own stories. During my runs, fellow bloggers posts have been really inspiring to me and I think “Well if “so and so” could finish this speed work, then there’s no reason I can’t too!” I think blogging is also a great way to keep yourself accountable with your runs, because, for example, if I’m going to tell the world I am running 39 miles this week, then I better get my butt out the door and run those 39 miles! I can’t wait to share more of my own adventures and read about yours, and would like to thank everyone for sharing their own stories about running with the world!