Friday, April 26, 2013

I Wish I Knew Then...

Tonight's run had me chanting in my head that old saying:

Quote by Scott Tinley
It was steamy hot, a good 86 degrees, and still sunny. I had planned to go later but ended up being pushed out the door a bit early. My calves were the good kind of sore in the beginning, the anaerobic-exercise kind of sore, and I pushed to the end with an average 9:32 pace. Not too shabby.

Sun and heat are my Kryptonite, but I won this round.

I've been thinking lately that I'm in another growth stage, and while sometimes I feel I'm starting from zero, there are definitely things I benefit from knowing now that I didn't know when I first began.

When I began running, I wish I knew...

1. Every run is not going to be the epitome of freeing/awesome/spiritual. Conversely, every run is not going to be sluggish/painful/shuffling/draining. Running is 90% mental.

I wish I had known progress was slow-going, even once you've gotten some races and long runs under your belt. Running takes work.
2. Walk breaks are acceptable; planned intervals take the defeatist feeling out of walking.

3. Strength-training is so important! Even if you're just doing squats and leg lifts, keep your hips, butt, and core strong to avoid injuries, especially in the knees. On a related note: a foam roller will become your best friend and the best $24 you've ever spent.

To see more about my hip-strengthening routine, click here!
4. Don't overdo it. Rest days aren't a reason to feel ashamed. Smart runners let themselves rest and recover.

5. The right shoes are everything. Have your gait tested, check into the store's return policy, and don't settle for something that costs less if your feet protest the decision. Also, learn to lace your shoes in a way that's comfortable for you. Look into orthotics if necessary, and remember to track your miles, because depending on what surface you run on, you'll need new shoes every 300 to 600 miles.

I wear the Asics Kayano, but that doesn't mean they're right for everyone.

6. Baby powder, Vaseline, Blister Block...apply liberally. Chafing happens, and sometimes it's permanent.

7. Name brand running clothes are nice splurges, but Target sells some pretty awesome gear. Shoes should be expensive; the other stuff doesn't have to be.

8. Black bottoms are key, especially if you have a nervous race bladder.

9. Pee before you run. Scratch that. Pee multiple times before you run.

10. Neon socks, bras, tops, etc, make you faster. This is a proven scientific fact, people.

Someone should really do a study on that, but I guess it would be pointless since we all already know what the outcome would be.
11. Mix up your runs. Do some slow, some fast, some longer than others. Try new paths. Don't let yourself get bored.

12. The right music can change a run. Keep your playlist updated and mix up the order of the songs once in awhile to keep it from getting stale. And don't be afraid to run unplugged once in awhile, either.

13. Running before the sun comes up and running in the rain will make you feel super hardcore.

14. Learning to eat the right foods at the right time takes some trial and error. Running on empty can be just as terrible as running on a too-full stomach.

15. Running groups are usually less scary than they seem; they love to welcome new people, and the friendships you'll make with other runners are some of the most intimate you'll ever have.

Bonus: I wish I had known that running can become an addiction, a go-to cure for all that ails you, a spiritual and mental respite from your hard days, a way to celebrate your good days, and, simply put...a way of life.

What do you wish you had known when you were a new runner?

What valuable things have you learned?



  1. Totally agree with 10 and 13. Scientific facts for sure.
    Emma @

    1. I wish I had hopped on the neon bandwagon way earlier than I did! I think once I let go of needing to look like a "serious" runner, the fun factor and fast factor both increased.

  2. I'm with Emma, #10 and 13 are totally true. I've only recently jumped on the bright girly color wagon, and I'm sure it's been a factor in this year's races.

    1. I was trying to avoid looking "girly" and wear dark/serious colors. Once I started wearing fun things, I noticed a change, too!

  3. This is an awesome list, Ali! I should have added buying the right shoes to my list. The shoes I used to run in were whatever Nikes were on sale at Kohls. Crazy!

    1. Same! I always bought the cheapest Nikes I could; now I pretty much refuse to wear Nike shoes. Have I become a snob? lol