There are the general running/life tips that help– get quality sleep, stay hydrated, eat good food…..
Then there are the training tips – actually take time to warm up, don’t go too far too soon, don’t go too fast in training or a race…..
I like the little tips that sometimes you don’t think of, or take for granted and turn out to be really damn useful. Here are 12 pointers covering starting running, training, kit, racing and belief.
It’s like cross country at school
No one liked cross country running at school. It’s winter. You’re outside in the cold and rain in a polyester rugby shirt, wafer thin draughty shorts and a pair of football/soccer socks that once wet, weigh about 5 kilos. For girls, it is even worse – running the streets in PE knickers or a hockey skirt is not helpful to the self-esteem and the body confidence of a teenage girl. I hope it’s changed.
Running nowadays is NOT like you remember PE. The kit is amazing, sportswear is fashionable again and an accepted casual look. Being active is now a thing. If you don’t exercise, you are normally the odd one out. Events and races have a community feel, and parkrun has given everyone a free opportunity to give 5km a go.
It’s not all about six packs, tanned legs and bulging biceps. Initiatives like Strava’s #athletesunfiltered is aiming to get put the fun back into social networks and show the real side of running. The sweaty faces, the muddy legs, the joy of running. The This Girl Can campaign is a celebration of active women, overcoming the fear of judgement no matter how they look or their standard.
It looks easy for others
It’s not. Everyone started somewhere. The massive majority of runners swore “never again” after their first run. Everybody’s been there. The first runs are hard. There is no denying it, but it does get easier. It’s quite amazing how with a bit of consistency, how quickly your body reacts and grows stronger. You’ll get there.
The right shoes
This is kind of obvious, but oh so important. A friend of mine who runs from time to time runs in 15-year-old trainers where the cushioning has gone and they offer zero support. They often wonder why they get injured so often and their feet are sore. Wrong shoes!
They are the one thing worth investing in and good shoes that fit properly make running so much more pleasurable. I broke down buying the right running shoes here.
I’m not female, but I am reliably told a quality well-fitting sports bra is a must. A post by Charlie at The Runner Beans provides all the info.
I run so I can eat and drink what I like
Yes, it helps. Burning 1000 calories on a run does mean you can eat a little more. Crashing through an extra-large pizza and a bottle of wine afterwards is not helpful though. I use this excuse to justify the extra helping of pudding or the extra beer.
There’s a saying –
“You can’t out train a bad diet”
You can give it a go. Many have, including me, but it doesn’t work. Eating a balanced diet in moderation will really help your running and the gains will come so much faster.
Not Looking after your feet
The interface between the road/trail and you. Look after them. Cut your toenails regularly and correctly (to avoid ingrowing toenails) and not too close to race day. Treat any fungal infections. Wear flip-flops in locker rooms. Identify any hotspots and treat any blisters. If blisters are an issue it is most likely due your socks or shoes. Moisturise your feet if required. One little tip – a little bit of Vaseline between your toes for longer runs works a treat.
Not Attaching your race number at home
This seems really trivial, but a cold windy starting pen when you are a bit stressed is not the time to attach a race number and be fiddling with safety pins. Take your time the night before and put it on straight, right where you want it. It may be my OCD, but wonky race numbers really annoy me. Or try these.
Drinking too much water before race
The most important thing about any race? How many toilets are there? Answer – not enough! There is always information provided for any race, particularly marathons that tell you to be well hydrated. Obviously, well hydrated also means going to the toilet a lot. Add the nerves and excitement of a race and this triples the need to go to the loo.
I heard a great tip for the London marathon – arrive and join the toilets queue straight away, once you have been, join the queue again.
There’s a balance with your race day hydration to be found that comes with a bit of practice. The urge to go to the loo before a race will never go away, but you can help yourself a little. Drink water throughout the days running up to your race, when you’re safely ensconced close to a toilet. Sip a little water or energy drink on the day. Plan your journey and where you are sure you know where you can go to the loo beforehand.
NOT Embracing Vaseline and plasters
Never be gung ho about how much thigh and nipple chafing can ruin your race/run/day.
It may seem a little weird and is not the most desirable of activities, but it’s ever so simple. At home, before you set off, out of view of others, applied liberal amounts of Vaseline between your thighs and undercarriage. A spot may be needed in other areas – under arms, bra straps. Men – don’t risk bloody nipples. Stick plasters on them and feel really smug when you peel them off after a race with intact nipples as people look at you jealously.
As I’m now the wrong side of 30, recovery is important for me. There’s a sense that you have to be running every day and everyone else is out making gains without you. It just seems like that. They’re not. If you are super serious, go for it, but for me, I feel an extra recovery day or a really restful week before a race can be just a beneficial as going out for a run. Find what works for you.
Comparing yourself to others
If you have decided you’re a runner. You’re a runner. Call yourself a runner.
The guys and girls up the front can do their thing, and I will do my thing somewhere in the middle. For some, the challenge is the make it to the start line and to finish. Everyone’s experience is different. We all have our struggles and our bad days. The challenge is your own.
Woody Allen once said
“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
I can put this in a lot of ways, but I think Rich Roll nails it in his Instagram post here –
Talent, hard work, persistence, patience, focus, humility, dedication – it all counts. But if I had to pick one attribute that trumps everything when it comes to chasing your goal — whatever that goal may be — it’s consistency, Wax on wax off. Showing up every day, no matter what. Consistency breeds patience. It hones focus. It’s a mirror that reflects humility. It’s the engine that overcomes resistance, obstacles and doubt. It is the place where hard work can thrive. I’ll take it over talent every time — because it always, always pays off.
I concur. Hard work beats talent. You have to keep showing up. If you do, the reward will come. Also, fantastic use of a Karate Kid reference. So good that here’s another –
“First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule Daniel son, not mine”