10 Things I Learned My First 3 Years of Running


1. It gets easier

I don't mean the runs themselves are always easy, but running gets easier. It's so much easier to lace up my shoes and head out now than it used to be when I first started. It still hurts when I do those tempo runs or long weekend runs, but in general, running really does get easier once you build up your initial mileage base. You don't feel like you're going to die after every run, just some of them.
2. I prefer morning runs to any other time of day

I've learned that it's just better for me and my schedule if I get up early and run. Yes, that 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. alarm sucks at first, but I never regret getting up for a morning run. For me it's actually easier to talk myself out of a 6:00 evening run than a 6:00 morning run. 

If I go in the morning, it's done and out of the way. I feel so great the rest of the day from getting my heart pumping and legs moving, and I didn't take away from any normal "day" time. When I worked in an office full time, I noticed a huge difference in the amount of back and butt soreness when I ran before work and when I didn't.

3. My stomach can't handle much (or any) food before a run

I've read all these articles about what you are and aren't supposed to eat before a run, and they're all a load of crap. If I eat more than half a bowl of cereal, I have the runs five minutes into my run! (PUN INTENDED.) Sorry, Runner's World, but I'm not eating 1,000 calories before I get out there. No, sir. I can handle maybe a single glass of water and a half bagel with nothing on it (not even butter). And that's it.

All that to say, over the past 3 years I've figured out how my body works and what it likes. Articles and advice are great, but at the end of the day you just have to do what works best for you. There isn't necessarily a right or wrong.

4. Runners are nice

Yes, there's always the occasional jerk, but for the most part runners are the nicest group of people you will ever meet. Everyone is so encouraging, no matter your pace or distance. You don't have to be scared of running or jogging or run/walking or whatever you have to do! At the end of the race, you'll cross the finish line just like everyone else, and you will feel amazing and encouraged and loved by the running community.

5. You cannot underestimate the power of a good pair of shoes

Running shoes are freaking expensive, hence the reason I don't go shopping anymore. But a good pair of running shoes is so important to the health of your entire body. I can tell when I need new shoes because I get blisters on my toes, and my knees start hurting. A new pair of shoes makes that all go away! It's fantastic. If you're going to skimp on something, don't skimp on shoes.

*Don't skimp on socks either. Socks are important so you don't get horrible blisters. In this post I talk about my favorite pair of running socks, which have never given me a blister, even during my marathon. (I'm not promising that they won't give you a blister; I'm just saying they've never given me one.)

6. It's not as scary as it sounds.

When I first signed up for my first half marathon, I was Freaking Out. I'd never run farther than 5 miles, and 13.1 sounded like pure insanity! I don't mean to take anything away from racing when I say this, but it really isn't as scary as it sounds. 

Now that I've run my marathon, 10 miles doesn't even seem that long! Crazy, right? I don't say that to brag but to tell you that when you have a base of 2-3 miles, all you do is add 1 more. Just 1 more mile than you did last week. Then 1 more. All of the sudden, you're running 16 miles without even giving it another thought. I'm serious! 

That's why I truly believe that anyone can run. Because it's not as scary as it sounds.
7. Sometimes it's more fun to run with someone

I do a lot of running by myself, and that's great. I love my alone runs (most of the time). I get really introspective about life, and then I come back here and write a blog post about it, which I know you guys love. But if you can find a running partner, it makes everything so much better. The miles seem to fly by because you're talking or pacing each other or whatever else. It's hard to find someone you like who also runs at your pace, but if you can, it can make your runs lots of fun.

8. Buy a subscription to Runner's World Magazine

They didn't pay me to say this or anything; I just love Runner's World! It's such a fun magazine to read, and it's full of race ideas and running tips and letters from readers. I always love getting my new Runner's World in the mail. I only recently signed up in March of this year, and I so wish I would have been getting the magazine all along.

9. You don't have to be fast or skinny to be a runner
There are so many amazing runners out there who run crazy times. Their "slow runs" are at 6:00 pace or something equally as insane. These girls have long, skinny legs and fly down the road so fast they look like a blur. And I'm totally okay with that. Yes, it would be fun to be really fast, but I am completely proud of my running pace and abilities. 

Over the past year and a half I've brought down my average pace by a full minute/mile! It took me 4 tries, but I finally ran a sub 2-hour half marathon, and when I crossed the finish line, I burst into tears. You would have thought I'd won the whole thing from the way I was acting. 

You don't have to be fast or skinny or whatever else to call yourself a runner. Do you run? Then you ARE a runner. (For more on that, read: Running Advice for Non Runners and Doing the Impossible: My Favorite Posts on Running)

10. You don't have to run if you don't want to

Once you start running, you'll start to find people who run. Makes sense, right? These people will be what I like to call "hard core" runners. These people run fast, and they run all the time. And when they don't run, they make excuses and rationalize why they didn't go running. 

I think that is total crap.

Sometimes, I just don't want to go running. It's hot or rainy or cold. Or maybe it's a perfect day outside, but I just want to sit on the couch and catch up on my blog or read a book. Doing this all the time just means you're lazy; but once in a while, it can be good to take a mental health rest day from running. Don't feel bad about it or compare yourself to that girl you know who ran 15 miles that morning. Make a running schedule that works for YOU, and don't get all worked up about skipping a run every now and again. It happens. This is real life, and you're not superwoman.

So that's it! I obviously have more than ten things I learned, but those are the first ones I thought of. 

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Do you have anything to add? 
What is one thing you've learned since you started running?
Holly said...

Oh my gosh, I love this post SO much!! I've already learned some of these things just from my 1.5 years of running, and I'm so grateful for blogging, too. Bloggers have helped motivate me to get me to run and keep running. I love it!! :)

Helene in Between said...

Awesome post!! I'm not really a runner but I wish I was, I think this is a great way to understand the whole running world and why I shouldn't be scared of it.

Britt and Hive said...

Hahaha this is great.
I'm more of a night runner, and alternatively I eat a TON before I run. I mean, I could eat 5 taco bell tacos and then run 5 miles, and feel great.

Its funny how different each body is.

Unknown said...

#10 is so true! I love the community of runners too, it's an individual sport, so I always remind myself my only competitor is myself.

Anonymous said...

Great post - I think pretty much most of these I have been figuring out as I run more.

Case in point on runners are lovely the man who helped me out when I was ill at the side of the road the other day by stopping and giving me his spare water bottle.


Laura Morgan said...

You should do a post about how to do a 5k or something for non-runners. I generally loathe running, but I think it's because I've always seen it as a chore. When I played tennis in middle school and high school, we had to run and I understood why, but I was also like, "I just want to hit some balls. I never signed up for track." Now I'm mildly interested in doing a fun run because I hear all these people talking about how fun it can be, but I don't know where to begin. But if I can push out a child after THIRTY-FIVE HOURS of labor, I can run a 5k, yeah?

Anyway, I totally agree about working out in the morning. I used to do water aerobics in the morning, and, man did I feel awesome the rest of the day! Sometimes I would get up, go to the pool, and then come home for a cat nap before work or school or whatever. That might negate part of the productivity of getting up early, but it's better than nothing!

Unknown said...

Love this! Runner magazines is what kept me going most of the time when I was a more regular runner. I mean, a non-runner reading Runner's World? Scoff. And yes, it's SO much better to go on runs in the morning even though waking up for torture is THE WORST.

Michelle @ Mishfish13

Niken said...

i need to learn to get up and go out and run first :p

Mary said...

I am exactly the same with not being able to eat beforehand. Everybody always told me to eat a big bowl of porridge before my runs, but it just wasn't happening. I feel much better on a little bit of bagel and a glass of water too.

Curious Runner said...

I think I learned that I am stronger than I thought I was and can achieve more than I thought I could! Woohoo! Great list, love these and totally relate!

Anonymous said...

I'm really new to running, only started three weeks ago after my sixth baby. I really enjoyed reading this, it gives me hope that it will get easier!

Michelle said...

I admire you! ...from my couch, while I eat a donut.

Heather said...

I love this post. I ran in school and i have been out of school for at least 10 yrs. I started back up this year, ran my first 5k, and have continued to run when I can. I have often thought if I was really a runner since I didn't run more then 4 times a week, I run at a slower pace, and am not the skinny runner. This post made me feel a lot better about running.

Kate said...

SUCH a great list!

I worked in a shoe store for 6 years, and I get so angry when I see people refusing to buy good running shoes because they're expensive. THEY'RE WORTH IT!
And I'm totally the same way about eating before running. I can't handle much at alllll. Bleh.
Also, I get so excited every time I open my mail box and find my Runner's World. The advice doesn't always help me, but just reading about running gets me so pumped for my next run.

Unknown said...

Morning runs are easier than evening runs for me too. Once I've showered for the day the chance of me running is slim to none. I don't like showering...is that weird?

Tara said...

Love this! I'm the same way about eating before a run. A sip of water and I'm out the door (early in the morning)! I do tend to guilt myself big time if I miss a run, though, so I'm still working on that.

eileen ragan | leaner by the lake said...

I absolutely love this and am so happy to stumbled on your blog from Tossing the Script! I just started running consistently and racing this year and have been LOVING it. While it hasn't been what I would call an "easy" process, it has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my entire life.

Love this post. Saving away for some motivation when I'm in need :)

eileen ragan | leaner by the lake

Anonymous said...

This is a fantastic post! Love your list and you are so so right on!

Hannah Scott said...

I love this! I just started running regularly about a month ago, and it can get pretty discouraging to see people posting about their long distances and fast times. But I have to keep reminding myself that it takes time and consistency to reach that point! I'm determined to get there :)

Sarah said...

You go girl! So amazing!

Great list :)

Sarah said...

Oh man I love this!! I've only been running for a little over a year but these are all so true!! It does get easier and some how the miles don't seem as daunting after awhile. Love, love, love this!

Kate said...

Reading this post for motivation to do my run today!

Unknown said...

I agree every single word!!! And this is a great inspiration and motivation for soooo many women out there! Keep on running - and enjoy!

Running Zuschi

Holly Olsen said...

i needed to read this. i don't consider myself a morning person, but i would LOVE to run in the morning before work. thanks for the motivation! :)

Unknown said...

So I was really worried when I started running that I would have to poop all the time--you gave me this fear. And I haven't had to. Not in the afternoon after a day full of eating. So, Thank God for that. Also, did you write this post just for me? It feels like it, and it gives me the running fuzzies on the inside. Thanks for encouraging me, Reese. :)

Anonymous said...

What I've learned: (1) Seeing someone else complete their goals makes me teary-eyed. (2) I get out of running what I put into it, and if I don't sign up for a race I won't train for it. (3) You can achieve just about anything if you work hard and don't give up . . . I went from being totally unathletic and finishing dead last in a high school race, to later placing in state xc championships, and eventually qualifying for Boston. Whatever your goal is, ladies, believe it's possible.

Great post, and I'm SO with you on #3.

Anonymous said...

This was a great post, and I can definitely relate to some! Especially about running in the morning. No better way to start the day. Not too sure about the 'not as scary as it sounds' part though. I have done some 5k and 10ks but haven't been able to muster up the courage to sign up for a half marathon yet. Any tips or advice? How do you train?