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I started running a little over three years ago. Until that moment, I always thought I wasn’t a runner. I didn’t really see the point or the need to run. But on that one day in February 2014 – I must have been out of my mind – I registered for a 5K. At the time, I couldn’t even run 50 metres, let alone 5000! I quickly came to my senses and decided to see if one of my friends would be crazy enough to join me. Fortunately, that worked. She registered as well, and we started with the Evy 5K course.
Flashforward to 2017: I actually still run. I’m still no marathon runner, but 5K isn’t that much of a problem anymore. And I even occasionally run a 10K (very occasionally, I did it twice). So in theory, everything worked out just fine. Still, there are some things I wish I knew before I started running…
1. Don’t Wait for a Runner’s High
I was really looking forward to the runner’s high. That euphoric feeling of being able to conquer the world. Of not wanting to stop and just keep on running. Well, that shit isn’t real. At least, not for everyone. Researchers found out that the best chance of getting a runner’s high is during a 2-hour run. No way in hell that any beginner is going to run for 2 hours. From personal experience, I have to say that I don’t totally agree with this though. I think I’ve felt it like two or three times during a (much) shorter run. However, that’s not really very often considering that I’ve logged a couple of hundred runs by now.
2. Interval is Key for Improvement
When you start running with a schedule such as the one Evy provides, you’ll do interval without noticing it. It’s running, walking, running, walking, etc. Within 12 weeks, we were able to do a 5K. But if you stop there and continue just doing 5K runs, you’ll hit a plateau. If you want to be able to run faster and farther, you’ll have to do some interval training. Runkeeper has a nice (free) program you can use for this, the Pace Academy. You can also do it yourself, if you have a nice sports watch that shows how fast you are running.
If I knew this before, I wouldn’t have spent 2.5 years running 5K, and wondering why I didn’t seen any improvement.
3. Shoes Matter
Approximately three months into my schedule, my shins started to hurt. I thought it was just a coincident, but it turned out that for running, you really need running shoes. Shoes that actually fit you. I have over-pronation and need special shoes for that. If I have those, I’m all good. Otherwise, I can easily get injured. Some great shoes for over-pronation are the Nike LunarGlide 7 and the Asics GT-2000 (I have these, but in a different colour, which isn’t for sale anymore).
4. Use Spotify for Music
It took me until a few weeks ago to figure this one out. I used to keep some songs on my iPhone, but I never really had a running list. It suddenly dawned on me that the BF had Spotify, so I checked with him if I could use that as well. As it turns out, Spotify has AWESOME tracklists for all kinds of running! You can even adjust the beat of the songs you listen to to your pace! My average speed as increased dramatically since I started using Spotify.
5. You Need a Goal
When I first started out, I wanted to run 5K. That was my goal. After that, I wanted to run 7.5K and then 10K. And then… nothing. Once I ran the 10K (or twice 😉 ), I continued with the 5Ks. However, I noticed that when you have a goal, you can improve. If you don’t you just run. Challenge yourself, and you can be sure that it will pay off in other areas of your life as well.
Running while I didn’t really feel like it, or pushing myself beyond the 5K has really reinforced my idea of ‘I can do this‘. Whatever ‘this’ may be.
6. You Won’t Always Feel Great
Even though I’m sure that you’ll never regret going out for a run, you won’t always feel great afterwards. Some runs just aren’t that great. And sometimes I’m just incredibly tired afterwards and then all I want to do is sleep. That’s why it’s also important to build in rest days. And it’s OK if you’re not completely energized after a run. You did it, and that’s wat matters.
7. You Don’t Have To Run Fast (all the time)
Though it might be tempting to work on your PR every time, it’s OK if you don’t run your fastest all of the time. If you go all out on every run, you’re on your way to injury. Create a schedule and rotate fast runs with slower runs.
What lessons have you learned since you started running?