Not too fast, mind you.
Why do I run?
To keep my sanity. I am not even kidding.
It gets me outside (I hate running on a treadmill. Let me repeat that: I HATE RUNNING ON A TREADMILL. I feel like a hamster.), it allows me to blow off steam, it gives my dogs good exercise, and if I'm running by myself it is usually one big, long conversation with my Creator.
Running gives me back to myself. It creates space in my head and my heart when life feels cluttered and heavy. It makes me feel balanced and strong and capable.
I haven't always been a runner. Oh, I chased softballs across bumpy dirt fields and raced around bases at a speed I haven't been able to reproduce since my teens, and I knew all about nausea-inducing line drills from basketball practice but until I graduated high school I didn't really run. Purposefully anyway.
Then came college and working two jobs and marriage and real-life stress that I had never known. I needed an outlet. So I started running.
I had no idea what I was doing. Or getting into. You put on tennis shoes and go, right? Yes. And no.
So for those of you that are new to running or thinking about trying it out, here are some things I've learned along the way:
1. Invest in some really good running shoes that are specifically designed for running. Better yet, go out and support your locally owned running store and have them evaluate your gait and recommend shoes. It is so worth the investment - seriously. Think about it - if you're training, you're quite literally putting some serious miles on your body - you need to take care of it. Treat your body well and you'll be running a lot longer with happy feet, knees, hips, etc.
I've tried several brands over the years, but absolutely LOVE Brooks Adrenaline for women. I am a loyalist to these and will not be changing. I'm on my fourth pair and I couldn't be happier with a pair of shoes.
2. Don't overdo it. Seriously. I know you're feeling gung-ho and invincible and all that, but you need to follow the recommended increase of mileage per week or your body will rebel. How do I know this? Because I had to learn the hard way. A stress fracture a few years ago had me wearing a boot for several weeks and put an end to training for quite awhile.
3. HYDRATE. When you are training, hydrating is crucial. And if you're like me and sweat more than a Russian handball player then you need to pay extra attention to replacing lost electrolytes. Case in point - I have completed one marathon. Unfortunately, at that point in my running foray, I didn't realize I wasn't properly replacing fluids. I thought that drinking water was enough. It wasn't. My legs cramped up at mile 13 and the rest of the marathon was absolute misery. I didn't hydrate well enough while training and while running the actual marathon.
Here are some recommendations for staying hydrated:
Prevent Dehydration - Sipping Points
Stay Hydrated on a Hot Run
And as I am one who tries not to ingest too many processed foods, here's a great recipe for an all-natural "Gatorade": Mix 8 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons honey, 1/3 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon lime juice in 24 ounces of water (source - Runner's World).
4. Subscribe to Runner's World. Not even kidding. So many resources and expert advice.
5. Get a running partner. By far this was the best thing I ever did. For a plethora of reasons. Some of my most treasured friendships started with running. You learn a whole lot about a person when you're running hills and dirt roads and dodging little yippy dogs together. An incredible bond is formed and you're much less likely to dodge out on a run if you know someone is going to be there waiting for you. And trust me - a 6 mile run with a friend goes by a heck of a lot faster when you're talking about everything under the sun.
6. Don't berate yourself. I saw this on Pinterest and it is so very true:
What's important is that you're out there doing it. Take heart and keep at it.
7. Invest in good gear - running tights, comfortable and supportive running bras, material that wicks sweat. Especially important for long runs. Seriously. Your mind is going to want to give up long before your body does and being comfortable while you're training gives you one less negative thing to focus on. (Raise your hand if you've ever had a pair of running shorts chafe your leg so bad that you bled. Yep. My hand is up over here, too.) I know it's expensive, but think of it this way - break it down by cost of run. Aaaannnddd if you treat it really well (delicate wash, air dry) then most gear will last for a long time.
8. STRETCH AFTER YOUR RUNS. Heed my advice. (That sounds awfully demanding doesn't it? Especially if you imagine me standing over you and saying it solemnly and sternly.) Once again, this was learned from experience. You'll be running a lot happier if you keep those joints/tendons/muscles loosened up. Trust me, trust me, trust me.
Here are a few routines to take a look at:
Post-Run Yoga Routine
Post-Run Flexible Routine
And a video specifically for after a run -
9. And lastly, have a sense of humor about it. Things will go wrong. You might have to make a pit stop in the middle of the woods without toilet paper. You will get tired. It will rain on you. Someone might steal your stashed lunchbox of water bottles and gels from the side of a dirt road when you're out on your long training run. You will be hot and sweaty and hurting and wondering why in the heck you decided this was a good idea.
But at the end of any run - no matter the distance - you'll never regret getting out there and going.
Happy Saturday, friends! If you have tips or tricks or even some stories to share about your running experiences, hit me up and I'd be happy to share.
Sites I Dig
The Road is Home
The Seed & Plate
Sharon Covert Photography
The Define School
The Noisy Plume
Sarah Gee Photography
Fox & Owl Studio
The Stork and The Beanstalk
Mellow Yellow Photography
A Simple Little Journal
What I've Been Reading
The Girls by Emma Cline
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Never Broken by Jewel
Hold Still by Sally Mann