“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.” ~ John Bingham
Are there rules when it comes to running and being a runner? Not really. If you can run to your mailbox, you are a runner. Well, for the most part, you are. But if you’re having trouble crossing that bridge from sporadic novice to a regular, dedicated runner, here are a few straight up running tips to help you along your route:
Never skip a Monday. This run sets up your whole week. It helps you plan the rest of your exercise and running accordingly, while helping you “start” your week mentally. Monday runs count way more than the rest – even, dare I say, your long run on the weekend. If your long run is on a Sunday, then a Monday rest day is probably in the cards, but you should still plan to exercise. Keep in mind that a shorter cross-training workout, yoga, or some weight lifting on a Monday can shift your whole week of exercise into gear. Mondays are important!
Wear stuff that fits. This includes shoes, pants, hair bands, etc. When your pants are falling down, or your shoes feel funny because they are too big, too tight, too old, or just not right, no one wants to run. When your hairband is slipping off your head every five minutes it detracts from the focus that is needed to maintain your pace, and honestly, your interest in running. Comfort counts!
Hydrate. For the love of God, drink water. Drink water all day long. Seriously. Nothing helps you run longer, faster, or stronger than being well hydrated. I’ve learned about hydration the hard way more than a few times. Hydration starts well before the run…as in days and days. Get into the habit of being well hydrated all the time and you will start to enjoy your runs, and have more energy to finish. More energy helps you push yourself!
Tackle those hills. Hills suck, but they’re just hills. Do them. Challenge yourself. What’s the worst that can happen? You have to walk for a bit? Big deal. Run toward the hills instead of away from them. Hills become non-factors after a while. They’re just part of the run. They make your body work a bit harder, which is what you want to do if you are training for a longer race or if you are just trying to increase your miles. Hills serve a purpose!
Run for fun. Once a week try to run without thinking about how far or how long, or what pace you need to go. Just run. Take the pressure off yourself a bit and just enjoy it. Look around. Wave to your neighbors. No counting (well, maybe a little), but no goal setting. And no fretting. One run a week should be just a run. Run without a goal!
Think about something else. When you’re pounding along your route, try to think about everything except the running. Make mental lists of things you need to do, or places you want to go. Think about other stuff for a bit. It takes your mind off thinking about your next mile, and the one after that. Try to get lost in other thoughts while accomplishing your miles!
Carry your water. A mini water bottle that straps to your hand is perfect. They are so light but so nice to have handy when you need just a bit of water, and you won’t be fumbling for it in your waistband. It helps you stay on the road longer if you can give your system a squirt as you go. There’s nothing worse than being parched, far from home. Carry it with you to keep you going!
Listen to a book. Instead of music, try downloading a book. A book takes you completely out of that “eye of the tiger” mindset that your thumping, pump-up music provides. When you’re listening to a story instead of music, it may even help you run a bit longer than usual. Books are a great tool for increasing miles!
Sign up for races. Don’t go crazy with it, but racing is pure fun. To be around other runners trying their best to meet and maintain their fitness goals is an uplifting experience. Racing provides the running camaraderie that we may lack from our families and other friends (if they are not runners too). Races are exciting and inspiring!
Find a group. Mine is a “secret” running group on Facebook. We post our running selfies and talk about “runner’s problems” big and small, like it’s our job. We also listen, vent, dole out advice, share funny stories, meet up for races, and genuinely cheer each other on – without competition, to the finish line and beyond. We’re just a group of women runners trying our best, nothing more, nothing less. Groups help to motivate!
If you run, you are a runner. Just put on your kicks, and tie up your laces. Add a bead to honor someone you quietly admire because her fight inspires your fight. Get out there. When you find your pace, you will find yourself.
YOU are a runner. Just go.