Culture

The Hardest Parts About Being A New Runner

The things we don't consider on a daily basis are the same things brand-new runners consider all day long after their first run.

When you decide to take up running, you probably have big dreams of the runner’s high and effortless, meditative long runs. Then you get started and get hit with some major turnoffs, like blisters, chafing, or cramps; it’s a freaking miracle anyone makes it past the first mile! But if newbies knew about the tough stuff, and how to conquer it, just about everyone could be a successful runner. Here are some of the hardest parts of starting a running routine, and how to turn those crappy parts into the happy parts:

1. Being overwhelmed by all the gear.

You probably know that you should get a new pair of sneakers to start you off.  But your trip to the running store can quickly turn ugly when you see the sea of garments, gels, and GPS. It can be easy to panic and want to ditch running for fear of the gear, but you only need a couple basics to get you going.  Spring for quality sneakers, cushioned socks, and a couple supportive, well-fitting sports bras.  Once you have a few miles under your belt and want to upgrade from your trusty old college tee shirts, browse for some running-specific tops and shorts or leggings, and consider researching running apps and GPS to track your mileage and pace. And don’t hesitate to ask for help in the store; the salespeople are usually very knowledgeable and many of them are runners themselves who can make recommendations customized to your running abilities and goals.

2. Figuring out how to go the distance (and what the distance should be).

Before you even take your first step out the door, you might feel confused about how far and fast to run. Do you run a mile today and two tomorrow?  Jog super slow or go all out?  Just run as fast and as far as you can until you collapse??  Even though it seems like all you have to do to run is….run, you should have a plan in place to prevent injury, or worse, wanting to quit. Start slow with just a mile (or less, if that’s where you’re comfortable) the first few weeks and increase the distance once you’re ready. Or download a couch-to-5K program for more specific and daily instructions. Just remember that slow and steady will really you help you get to (and conquer) your first race.

3. Learning the lingo.

You wouldn’t think you’d need a whole new vocabulary just to go running—what else do you need to know besides walk, jog, and run? But it turns out there’s a ton of terminology that, while it might seem overwhelming at first, can help you train better and smarter.  Pick up a running magazine or browse a website or blog and educate yourself on the world of fartlek, tempo, splits, and pick-ups. You’ll not only learn new techniques but you’ll also sound pretty darn impressive the next time you’re telling people about your new hobby.

4. The aches and pains (and blisters, and stiffness…).

Running seems like it would make you stronger and tougher, and it does, but it can also come with some discomfort at first.  Blisters, chafing, shin splints, burning lungs, cramps-with a list like that, who would even want to start running, let alone keep going once any of those things happen? But there are easy fixes to these painful problems. Get a proper shoe fitting and invest in quality sneakers and socks to prevent blisters, try powders or compression gear for chafing, build up mileage slowly and stretch afterwards to keep aches and pains at bay, try walk-run intervals to help your lungs get stronger, and make sure you wait an hour after a snack to run and closer to two after a full meal.

5. Feeling like it’s just. So. HARD.

If you’re brand new to running, it might feel hard at first. Really hard. Really really hard. Pain or exhaustion might tempt you to quit, but know that it gets better. Honestly! You have to start slow, take your time increasing your distances, and get out there a couple times a week, but before long it will stop feeling bad and start feeling really good.  Bring on that runner’s high!