It’s been four weeks since I started running again which means I can totally dole out advice without sounding too pretentious, right? Don’t answer that. Pretentious or not, here are ten things I’ve learned in my short and painful new running career.
DO enter a race. I was a skeptic until I tried it. This past Sunday, I ran in my first 5K, and I feel like I got a new lease on running. Suddenly, I’m motivated to run faster, beat my race time, set new records, etc. This new version of me probably won’t last very long, but it makes me feel a little bit more like a runner and a little bit less like an imposter. For now.
DO take the time (and money) to make good running playlists. Running without music (or to bad music) is pretty much the equivalent of earthly purgatory. Someplace in hell, there is a series of treadmills, and robbers and other no-goodniks are forced to run for hours to Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind. True story.
DO invest in a pair of running pants that make your thighs looks less jiggly than they really are. This is assuming you have jiggly thighs. If you don’t, well, then I hate you, and why are you reading this?
DON’T throw things at runners who are much faster than you. Trust me. It is not socially acceptable, and we’ve already established that you can’t outrun them.
DON’T expect to look like Lolo Jones in three weeks’ time. You will only end up disappointed. I should know.
DO run even when you don’t feel like it, even if it’s just a mile or two. This may be one of the hardest pieces of advice to follow through on, but eventually the sucky days will lead to mildly less sucky days and then even more less sucky days.
DO admire your newly developing muscles in the privacy of your home. DON’T ask people to feel your newly developing muscles, unless those folks already know that you’re a weirdo, and then by all means, go ahead. FYI: They will probably say no.
DO bribe yourself. It’s okay to reward yourself for hitting the pavement. Ignore the diehard runners who tell you “Running is its own reward.” That’s a heaping pile of bull. Running, especially during those painful first weeks, feels like a punishment and a really evil one at that – not a reward. So if you need to end your runs at the local frozen yogurt shop, go for it. I might see you there.
DON’T be too hard on yourself – both physically and mentally. It’s okay to rest if you need it, to walk for a bit if necessary, to go for an easy run on occasion. If every day feels like a nightmarish version of boot camp, the running won’t last very long. If you have a bad run, it doesn’t mean you suck even if the voices in your head are yelling “You are the suckiest runner that has ever graced the earth! You are a disgrace to Nike!” Try to view each run as a step on a long journey, not a heavenly decree of your self-worth.
DON’T quit. Just take a deep breath and tell yourself it will get easier. It. Will. Get. Easier.