Last year, I did a post about tips for new racers. You can go read that if you want, but here’s a summary:
- Nothing new on race day
- Line up where you belong
- Don’t start out too fast
- Be aware of the runners around you
- Have fun!
And all of those rules still stand, especially rule number 5. But I’ve met a lot of new runners, so I wanted to share what I learned when I started running.
#1. You will be slow. But you will get faster.
Sure, we all have that slightly annoying friend who decides they want to be a runner and BAM there they are pulling out 8 minute miles. But that isn’t the norm. For the average person, even if you start out reasonably fit, running long distances isn’t easy. Maybe you’ll be able to pull out a mile on your first outing. Maybe you’ll struggle with the first day of Couch to 5K (like I did). But it gets easier. And you will get faster.
#2. You may never be fast. And that’s okay.
I joke that I like being a slow runner because it means I get my money’s worth out of the course. But my body isn’t made for fast running. I’ve discovered that I am built for endurance though. I’m not fast, but I just keep running. And that’s pretty cool too. It doesn’t matter that it takes me twice as long as some friends to finish a marathon. I’m out there and I’m doing it and I love it. Speed isn’t everything.
#3. Never worry that you don’t belong.
Runners are an incredibly welcoming group. Sure, you will find the occasional person who will snark on the new runner or the fat runner or the slow runner. But 95% of the time, runners are just excited to see other people join their sport. Because it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are – one day you will feel the rush that comes with running. You will get that runner’s high. And you will get the sense of empowerment that comes along with accomplishing something that you set out to do, be it to run (or run/walk) a mile, a 5k, a 10k, or an even longer race. If you run, you are a runner. And you belong.
#4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
There are lots of running communities online, filled with newbies and experienced runners and racers. Ask questions. The only dumb question is the question you don’t ask.
#5. Don’t forget to have fun.
Yes, this was on the other list. But it’s that important. Don’t forget to have fun. Does that mean that every training run has to be fun? No. It won’t be. And if it is, I am very impressed by you. We all have runs that don’t go as planned and leave us frustrated. But in general, remember that running should be enjoyed, not forced.