Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What I Wish I'd Known When I Started Running

When I really kicked things into high gear a year ago, my primary goals were healthy gradual weight loss, and getting fit. I didn't start blogging until a few months later, and the only blog I was reading was Colleen's -- insightful, humorous, and brutally honest.
Here are some of the running factoids I'm sharing with my past self that I wish someone had shared with me before I started running:
(1) There will be chafing, and it will be uncomfortable. Hell, anywhere skin touches skin or clothing (or anything, for that matter) lends itself to the possibility of chafing. My thighs touch, and they probably always will. BFD. Well, except when they're bleeding... Finally buying a pair of sliders was the best thing that ever happened to me.
(2) The right shoes are key. Something that supports your ankles, as well as something light that provides a landing spring to absorb impact. The longer you try to stick it out in those holey, cheap POS "tennis shoes" from Ross, the longer you'll be unaware of why your feet are crying.
(3) Running as a sport is not easy. Nike can promote "just do it" out the wazoo, but running requires patience, mindful effort, challenging oneself, and perseverance. At some point, I think I truly believed that I would become A Runner after just a few weeks of skipping merrily around. Almost a year later, the furthest distance I've ever run is 4 miles. Don't get me wrong -- I'm proud as hell of those miles.
(4) Some days it feels as though dragging yourself to the gym will be the end of you in itself, much less clamoring aboard the treadmill with a pounding head, clogged nasal passages, aching muscles, and zero inclination to run. That's okay. Every single day that you decide to run won't necessarily feel like it's a sunshine-and-butterflies type of day.
(5) It is absolutely vital to listen to the signals your body sends you. If a little light is blinking in the dark recesses of your brain, saying, Don't make me go to the gym today, pleeease! then don't force yourself to go. Some resistance may be helpful in preventing serious injury, but it's when you decide to be heroic and conquer that little blinking light that you can wind up in bad shape. I'll admit, 99.9% of the time that I force myself to go when I truly do not want to, I feel great afterward. But sometimes, it's really okay to let ye olde body take a bit of a rest.
(6) You're not doing yourself any favors by attempting to run every single day. Since running doesn't come easily for you and it probably never will, it's perfectly acceptable -- and probably encouraged -- to switch up your exercise routine. Mix in some weight training, the elliptical, an outdoor powerwalk, spinning, walking on the treadmill at different inclines... whatever crosses your mind. Get movin'!
(7) Driving yourself 0.4 miles to the gym is frankly kind of embarrassing. But, if it helps you stay motivated to work out, the cost of gas and the sympathetic looks you get from people are well worth it.
(8) Never, ever, ever stop trying. Just because running doesn't come as naturally to you as talking on the phone or craving ice cream, doesn't mean you can't be successful. Sure, some days will be better than others, and there will be days here and there when it would be simplest to just lie down and give up the game. Just don't forget the incredible feeling you experienced when you crossed the finish line in an all-out sprint at your first race, or how exhilarated you were when you realized you unintentionally accomplished a 5k on the treadmill weeks before you were supposed to have reached your goal. You can do this.
And with that, I'm off to run! Happy Hump Day, blends.

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