This past fall I rekindled my love of running. I ran a ton in high school and have put in a few miles and races since then but never REALLY got back into it...until 2010. The first few runs were really rough - my breathing was off, I got side cramps, and at least once a run had to tell my running partner to slow down. It really wasn't the glorious, effortless experience I was expecting. Looking back, I am SO glad I didn't give up when it was tough because after 2-3 weeks I got my flow, learning how to breathe and prevent side-cramps, my endurance and lungs got so much stronger. Now if I miss a run I really MISS a run. I feel like every-time I lace up my shoes and get out there it's a win. Here are some tips I'm learning along the way - hope they help you win too!
- Gear up. Without the right gear running (especially during the winter!) can be a cold, painful, pitiful drag. Key pieces to invest in that will keep you on your feet: a good pair of running shoes, timing watch, running tights and turtleneck (dry-wick), socks with arch support (I love these!), dry-wick/fleece headband to keep your ears warm and the sweat out of your eyes, hat, fingerless gloves, and sunscreen. Layer up! You can always take off a jacket mid-run if you feel you're too toasty. If I'm running alone I like to use an ipod - if I'm running with my running partner we usually end up chatting the whole time...except for the uphills!
- Proper Fuel. Lots of veggies, fruits, whole-grains like brown rice or oatmeal, lean proteins, raw nuts and seeds, and tons of H20. Limit your refined sugar intake to keep your immune system strong. Pre-morning runs I try to at least have a big glass of water and a piece of fruit. Granola bars or yogurt are also good options. My post-run routine is Emergen-c, green tea and oatmeal with almond butter and all-fruit spread or fresh berries(sooo good and filling!).
- Consistency. Be consistent in your running days and times - mark running dates on the calendar (in pen!) and stick to them. I like to get mine done first thing in the morning before all of the distractions of life get me off track. It's a lot easier to come up with excuses about how busy I am at 6pm than at 6am.
- Motivation. Honestly, when my alarm goes off at the crack of dawn while it's dark and freezing outside, my first thought is NOT, "this run is going to be so great for my cardiovascular fitness" or "I can't wait to get out there and build my endurance!". My thoughts are usually along the lines of, "if I don't get my booty in gear I'm going to be late to meet my running buddy!" or "if I miss this run it's going to be a lot harder the next time". I have to have my running gear laid out the night before and lunch packed so I don't even have to think about it when I wake up - I'm on autopilot for the first 10min.
- Measurable Goals. Runner's World has a great, free running log that I love using. It's always a great feeling "adding miles" to the log and watching your progress grow! Signing up for a few races a year is another way to push yourself to run faster, longer, and stronger. Make it a group thing with your pals and be sure to grab brunch afterwards :).