7 Minute Miles

Advice for New Runners

Posted Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 08:14 pm GMT -6 in Friends, Running

I was contacted the other day by a high school friend who just started running and wanted some advice. I ended up writing a lot and thought it might make a decent 7 Minute Miles post. Here’s a slightly edited version:

In the beginning, finding the right pair of shoes makes all the difference in the world – if they don’t feel right, you won’t like it and will likely get hurt. If you get blisters or feel any extraordinary pain, keep trying different pairs until you find the one that feels the best. If your fitting was at a true running store, your chances are much better, but even they don’t get it right all the time. The better stores will let you exchange lightly used pairs until you are happy.

As for running plans, it really depends on what you want to get out of it. I ran track and cross country in high school, then didn’t do anything in college. I can’t remember why, but I set a goal to run a marathon in 1995 and finished Twin Cities that year by roughly following Jeff Galloway’s original book (he has a bunch out now). I swore I’d never do another one, but I was never in shape when I wasn’t running. Two years later I decided to run Grandma’s in Duluth and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Racing at all levels is a total rush – especially the ones with a lot of people. 5Ks, 10Ks, halfs and full marathons are all really fun and give you an incentive to keep up with training runs. No need to stress about missing days – just set aside time for runs whenever it works best for you. I’ve run early in the morning and late at night – nothing wrong with either, just stay safe.

For a long time, I hated training runs, but loved races. Two years ago, I started running with a neighbor, which made it much easier to get out there, since I knew someone was waiting for me. She started out with the Grand Old Day 8K race as a goal, then moved on to a half and ended up running Twin Cities with me last year. Another high school friend set a goal to run a half last year also, which we did together in Stillwater.

You don’t need to go all out, but I would recommend picking a 5K or 10K race a few months out as a goal, then start slowly. There are a ton of running plans out there, but I usually find them a little too rigid. I like to try to get in 2-3 shorter runs a week and one longer run on the weekend. I’ve also thrown in some cross-training the past few years that has helped a lot too (especially mountain biking and weights). I don’t do much in the way of speed work or intervals, but do try to run hilly routes on occasion.

Other tips:

  • Be sure to stay hydrated when it’s hot and when you go on longer runs.
  • I don’t do much in the way of stretching before or after runs (usually do a cool-down walk at the end, though).
  • Runnersworld.com has a free online training log that I use to keep track of mileage – don’t have to do this, but I like to know how far I’ve gone.
  • iPods? Sometimes yes, most times, no (personal preference).
  • I usually run with a watch to keep pace, but not really needed when you are starting out.

As for age, I’ve gotten faster and faster the older I get. My fastest marathon time this year was almost an hour better than that first one 15 years ago. I regularly get passed by older runners in most of my races and I’m always amazed at the times I see posted by seniors.

Starting out can be frustrating, as the first few weeks are always the toughest. Once you get past that, though, you will feel better and benefit from all the perks of becoming more physically fit. “Runner’s high” really does exist and is a beautiful thing.

Originally published by DK on October 12, 2010 at 8:14 pm

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