5 tips for new runners and setting goals!

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I feel like I have been a new runner so many times. I started as a new runner playing high school sports, a new runner that started running again in my 20’s after years of limited physical activity, a new runner after health/surgery issues and a new runner after having babies. I made plenty of mistakes and some of them…. more than once. I really wanted to compile a list of my top 5 tips to help new runners. These are practical tips that are easy to follow and I know will help. Here you go!

1. Invest your money wisely – SHOES! I can not stress enough how important it is to have the right shoe for you. Don’t stock up on super fancy, cute running clothes right away. Invest in a quality shoe and wait for the cute clothes to go on sale (check out Marshall’s and Old Navy for great deals). I spent too many years buying shoes based only on what was on sale. I did not account for anything else. This approach worked me for me until I had kids. My feet changed so much after having kids – BIGGER and WIDER. It happens.  I lost the baby weight, my hips went back to pre-pregnancy size, but my feet were like, “Bam, here we are”! My shoe size increased by a 1/2 size and my feet got wider. I was so hung up on maintaining my previous shoe size as if someone would run beside me and judge my feet. Insane. I continued to buy shoes that were too narrow and too small. I ended up with blood blisters on the tips of almost all of my toes. HELLO?! I wasn’t training for a marathon, I wasn’t a prima ballerina…. I should have never had toes issues to that degree, but I stuffed my feet into shoes that were too small. It was painful. A little over a year ago, I decided to spend about $40 more than I had in the past on the right shoe for me and my feet feel awesome. It was worth every penny and I didn’t break the bank because I chose to spend my money on shoes rather than an extra shirt or extra shorts….. I wash clothes all of the time anyway. 🙂

Money savings tip: If you are like me and don’t care about having the latest and greatest model of a shoe, you can find great deals on the shoes that are about to or have just been updated. Your best luck is at your local running store. Plus, the staff at a specialty store will have more knowledge about shoes and what will go on sale soon.

2. Alternate your running goals between endurance, pace and distance goals. It can be easy to get stuck on just one goal. Whether you start wanting to run a 5k distance without stopping or you are hoping to run for 30 minutes without stopping, change up your goals every few runs. Years ago I ran on the treadmill for time goals only. I just wanted hit the treadmill for my “cardio exercise”. I have no idea how many miles I ran in 30-40 minutes. Then I switched to distance goals and wanted to run more and more miles and I was really unaware of my pace. You should have a good understanding of what running a mile feels like or what running 3 miles feels like and the effort your body exerts. If you are only watching the time and counting down the seconds until you are done, you won’t know what those miles feel like and down the road, it will be harder to pace yourself if you try running longer distances. I switch up running for endurance, pace, and distance regularly and it has helped me so much. It also keeps weekly running more interesting. I talk more about why new runners and low mileage runners (like me!) should incorporate different training runs here.

3. Run without distractions on a regular basis. I know this is hard for a lot of people! Try to run without music, a podcast, or the TV at least once-twice a month. You will find that you are much more aware of your breathing, your form, effort level and your surroundings when you run outdoors. I used to run with zero distractions for a long time then I introduced music and now the cardio cinema room at the gym. I find making myself run without distractions is a great way for me focus more on my running and my mind feels clearer. Bonus — running without distractions makes you really appreciate your music when you truly need some distractions to get through a work-out!

4. Do NOT feel pressured to race or run races that are beyond your desired distance. Many people really want to race, but you don’t have to race to be a runner. I ran for years before I ran an official 5k race. I just didn’t have an interest. I liked to run, just to run. Fast forward several years and now I like to race, but my racing goals have changed. I used to want to run a half marathon. Nope, not anymore. Too many miles for me. By running with different goals like I talked about earlier, I found that I really like the 5k distance and getting faster. I write a blog about running, but that doesn’t mean I have to run a lot of miles each week. Your goals are for you – don’t feel pressured to tell people how far or how fast you run to feel justified as a runner.

5. Don’t neglect whole body strength training – especially your legs! I’m not going to come at you with injury prevention talk. Not going to do it. It is a fact that strength training is necessary for injury prevention, but I will let the experts out there talk and write about it. I’m talking about strength training purely from a personal performance viewpoint. For years, I did almost zero strength training and as I started running for longer periods of time and hitting longer distances, my body was tired and could not keep up. My legs could keep going, but my arms, back and core would get fatigued. After a few months of small amounts, but regular strength training, I found I no longer had that issue. Now, the rest of my body can keep up with my legs and running endurance. Simple as that. I did fall short on weight training my legs until recently after I read an article.  I have incorporated leg work as well and I have felt huge improvements. Many runners think that running is enough of a leg work-out, but like with any other muscle group, it pays to work them more than one way. Think about all of the different ways you work your core or the different ways you can lift weights to work biceps… the same should go for your legs.

These are 5 tips that I have followed consistently for over a year and I hope they help you!

What are your running goals?

What is your favorite distance to run?

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