By Adrienne (Black Girls RUN! Atlanta)
I started running in 2010 to complete an item on my bucket 30 list: Finish the Peachtree Road Race. Prior to this, I thought running was only something to do when being chased by a wild, rabid animal or the cops. But now running is an essential part of my sanity and health routine! A friend took note of my running activity and asked for advice as she began running. I didn’t think I had much to offer; however, I came up with 13 tips that every beginner runner should know and I’d thought I’d share it with all of you – in case this may influence you to get off the couch and on the streets! See below for my tips! And feel free to leave tips for me and others!
1. ) Go to a store that specializes in running shoes. Big Peach Running Company is my favorite in Atlanta. They will analyze your foot and how you hit the ground (pronation) and recommend shoes that will ensure that your knees/hips remain comfortable for the longer distances. I did this and it has made a big difference in terms of my level of (dis)comfort when running. I have a bad hip/knee, but the shoes help a little bit.
2.) In regards to running clothing – Nike Tempos are the ‘standard,’ running short. I get cheaper knock-off Champion brands. They’re really light and have built-in briefs…I still wear undies, but if you find that no type of underwear works for you, I’d say skip the undies and rely on the built-in briefs. The dri-fit cloth is the best running gear, as it doesn’t get uber heavy when you get sweaty. Here is a link to what the Nike brand looks like – they’re costly, so I’d suggest getting maybe 1 pair for race day and 2-3 pair for your weekly runs.
3.) Get the Nike+ sport band or a GPS that will connect you to an online group. This truly does help motivate me and manage my runs. It’s kind of like linkedin for runners. You can connect to friends, establish goals/challenges for yourself and track how many miles you run, your pace, the calories burned and the time you spend running. Seeing that type of information serves to affirm all of the progress that you are making.
4.) Get a solid group of running buddies who are as dedicated to training as you are. (Join BRG - ATL!) I cannot tell you how much my running buddies have meant to me. And don’t be intimidated by those who are already where you want to be. They help push you to that next level – and good running buddies, won’t completely leave you in the dust. They will manage their pace.
5.) In the summer, get up and run early in the day. If you can do a run before work, good…if not try to wait until at least 7:30pm, as it gets a bit cooler. I’m waking up way early than I ever have! It’s hot though, and your runs should start no later than 7:30 am. Morning runners are so friendly! I also enjoy the sounds / scenery in the morning.
6.) Sometimes before I run, I take 2-3 alieve/advil. The night before I drink a lot of water (I try to get through at least 1 of those SmartWater bottles).
7.) Try to increase endurance first before speed. My initial goal was to be able to run 2 miles without having to walk. Because I can go 2 miles before I walk, if I choose to run 1 mile – I have the capacity to go faster. So as you work to increase pace, I’d say first do endurance…the faster pace will come when you feel like you can get through the distance with more ease.
8.) Do your longer runs on either Saturday or Sunday morning. Go further than what you think is comfortable. 1-2 shorter runs during the week. Your soreness will probably dictate how often you can run. After my long run, I usually have to go 2-3 days without a run…but then by that 3-4 day, I’m itching to run.
9.) When you think you HAVE to stop, ask God to carry you to the next block or minute. We do it in emotional parts of our life…I’m finding that it helps with running too. I don’t use music often because the dialogue with God is a bit easier to hear when it’s just me and nature! (Oh yeah, run outside! Treadmills are Dreadmills for me now!)
10.) Don’t discount the importance of stretching. I admit to not stretching a lot in the beginning, but after the run, I hold stretches a lot longer.
11.) If you do have hip/knee pain…get it checked out. Running hurts…straight up! I ran 6 miles on Saturday and my knee/hip pain had me doing a very weird gate for the first 2.5 miles. Oddly enough, the pain subsided and I completed the rest at a relatively normal pace.
12.) Hills suck! But they’re a part of outdoor running. Slow down your pace going up the hill, but push yourself not to stop until you get to the bottom of the hill. The descent will feel almost fun – so earn it. I did this hill called, cardiac hill, this weekend and even though my trot got very slow, I maintained running form, even though I probably could have walked it faster. Push yourself to maintain the running form as you get up the hills.
13.) If you have trouble breathing, try to count while you breath. Breathe in and take 3 steps, breathe out and take 3 steps. You want the breath to be as controlled as possible. If you feel your breath getting out of control – it’s all a mental game. Tell yourself that you are in control and readjust to a breathing pattern that is more sustainable.