Running is one of those things you either love, or you hate. Or maybe you even love it and hate it at the same time (totally me). I used to absolutely hate running, until I decided to challenge myself by training for a half marathon. Somewhere during the 10 weeks it took me to prepare, I found myself really enjoying it – I even started to look forward to my runs! But it was a long road to get there.
I am by no means a running expert. I have only ever run one half marathon, and I didn’t do it fast. I still fall off the wagon sometimes and even go weeks without running. But I know what it’s like to start running for the first time – it sucks. So many times I tried to “get into” running, only to be so miserable within the first few minutes that I never wanted to run again. I figured that maybe I just wasn’t meant to be a runner.
If this sounds like you, don’t give up on running yet! I finally hit a point where I was so determined to complete a half marathon, that I pushed through all of my misery and along the way, I discovered a few things I was doing wrong. Once I fixed them, it made all the difference in the world. So if you, like me, want to love to run but just can’t seem to enjoy it, then these three mistakes new runners make just may be what is holding you back.
3 Mistakes You Might Be Making As A New Runner
1 – You’re wearing the wrong shoes.
My first couple runs were not just painful in a metaphorical sense – they were actually physically painful. After less than a mile, my ankles always started aching. It turns out that all I needed was more supportive shoes! I bought a pair and on my next run, I had no pain whatsoever. If you feel any pain or unusual discomfort while running, it could be your shoes! Go to a sporting goods store that specializes in running, and they will help you to find a shoe that will work for you.
2 – You’re trying to go too fast.
When I started running, I had no idea how to pace myself. I felt like I should be going a certain speed and ended up out of breath and miserable after 3 minutes. I felt so defeated, like I’d never even be able to run a 5k let alone a half marathon. But then I did some research and had an important revelation:
You shouldn’t be out of breath when you are running.
At least, not when you are trying to increase your distance. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it is so important. If you feel out of breath and totally drained after just a few minutes, you need to slow down. You may feel silly. You may feel like you are practically walking. Heck, it’s okay if you are walking!
It is ALWAYS better to slow down than it is to stop.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure you are running at a conversational pace – meaning that if you were with a friend, you could hold a conversation with them fairly easily, and without being out of breath. If that means starting at a brisk walk and working your way up to a jog, do that! Everyone has to start somewhere.
3 – You aren’t eating the right fuel.
When I started running, I wasn’t trying to lose weight – I just wanted to prove to myself that I could finish the race. So at first, I didn’t change my diet at all. I continued to basically eat whatever I want, whenever I wanted. This was okay at the beginning, but as the mileage increased I noticed how much food affected my runs. If I ate half of a frozen pizza for dinner, for example, I would most likely feel like garbage during my run the next day. But if I ate something like whole wheat pasta or oatmeal, I had noticeably more energy to get through my run.
Your body needs energy to run, and it gets that from food. Junk food is not a good source of energy for your body.
It is so important to give your body the right fuel in order to have a great run. It may take some time for you to figure out exactly what works best for you and your body, but when you do you will be able to run farther, faster, and finish feeling energized rather than exhausted. Complex carbs, lean proteins, and fruits and veggies are all a great starting point!
For me personally, these were the three biggest mistakes I was making that were preventing me from enjoying my runs. Don’t get me wrong – I still have bad runs. There are still days where my ankles hurt, or I feel like I have no energy, and that’s okay. But once I got myself the right shoes, found a comfortable pace, and learned how to properly fuel my body, I finally got to experience what a good run felt like. And once you experience that feeling, it’s more than enough to get you through the bad ones… most days, anyway 😉