By: Jenny Nakamura of Runny-Legs, Burnt Toast
I’ve been running pretty much all my life and when I started endurance running in 2010 there were a few things I wish I had known.
Running without a goal.
It’s easy to get derailed when you are first starting out and you don’t have a goal to work towards. When I started to get serious about running more than just around the block, I started with a Couch to 5k program, and at the end of 8 weeks I would run a 5k race.
I believe the reason why I stuck with running consistently through the program was that I had a race to work towards. Now, I like to have a lot of races of varying distances on my schedule so I know there is always something coming up to keep me motivated.
If you are just starting out, a good goal is to pick out a 5k about 6-8 weeks from when you start.
Doing too much too soon.
A lot of beginning runners are so excited that they end up doing too much too soon. It’s important to build a base and increase your distance slowly. It’s recommended that you don’t increase your long run more than 10% each week.
If you are just starting out, I’d definitely recommend going online and finding a training plan. Runner’s World, for example, has a lot of training plans for different distances. Another option is to check out your local running store, a lot of them have group training for different distances. I got an email from Runner’s Den in Phoenix just the other day for some upcoming training groups.
I followed a plan religiously for the first few years I was running longer distances and I definitely think it helped me to not get injured and stay on target. It’s easy to see what others are doing and want to do that too, but doing too much too soon can lead to injury and/or overtraining.
Not fueling properly on long runs.
Once you’ve built up your base and you’ve decided that a half marathon or marathon is in your future, you need to work on fueling properly for these distances.
This was really hard for me when I was first starting out. It took time and experimentation for me to start incorporating calories into my runs, but it is so important.
A good way to do this is to have a small snack before going out, maybe a Glukos Energy bar or a piece of toast with nut butter. As you get up in your mileage you’ll want to bring some snacks with you to eat while you’re out there. Glukos gummies or gels are a great choice for quick, portable energy. It’s good to get some calories in every 30 – 45 minutes depending on the distance you are going.
Also, don’t forget to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Your body will perform so much better if you are hydrated.
Now that you know what to avoid, let’s go run!