I’ve taken up running. The news elicits jubilation from other seasoned runners and quizzical looks from non-runners. (Plus some WTF?! faces when I run in minus-15 degree weather.) What started as a New Year’s resolution-y thing has become a bit of an obsession with me. I am proud that I lasted the entire ten weeks of the Running Room’s Learn to Run program and finished a 5K last week, but signing up for a 10K that’s only a month-and-a-half away may be a little too optimistic. But I’m going to try.
I started running to stay in shape and lose a few extra pounds. Said pounds are taking an e – x – t – r – e – m – e – l – y s – l – o – w time to come off because of my metabolism slowing down in my older age (gah!), but I do notice an overall slimming-down effect happening. I’m also more alert and clear-headed.
I chose running over other activities because I hate the gym. Now you may think that “hate” is a strong word to use, and you would be totally wrong. I really do hate it. I hate the routine of it, the waiting, the wiping down of equipment, the stink of other people’s body odor and the monthly payments that continue to be added to your credit card long after you stopped going. Running is great cardio – it gets you outside and you don’t have to wait for the asshat who won’t get off the damn treadmill (and who doesn’t wipe it down after his sweat shower).
I’m still a novice and I am trying to find the perfect stride for me. But I can impart some advice to those who are ready to run.
- You will not look pretty or handsome running. You can buy the nicest running clothes on the market but at the end of a good run, you will be a flushed, sniveling, sweaty, panting mess. But a happy flushed, sniveling, sweaty, panting mess.
- Sports bras are a necessary evil. They are not sexy and will smoosh your girls into a uniboob. But at least your breasts won’t hit you in the face.
- Eat sensibly. The burger and fries you ate for lunch will still be in your body when you go for an evening run – you don’t want to tote that shit around (literally). Eat light on days you are running. I prefer a Carnation instant breakfast before a run – light on the stomach but filling and nutritious.
- Run in the mornings. Get it out of the way, because if you are prone to laziness, as I am, it’s harder to get off the couch at the end of a work day than it is getting out of bed an extra 30 minutes in the morning.
- Do it with strangers. Join a running club – your leader will motivate you to run and teach you proper form and care. You also don’t feel like a freak when you know other people in your group are getting shin splints and side cramps.
- Take it easy and slow. Moderation is the key. Alternate one minute of running with one minute of walking; each week, add another minute of running. Build up endurance first before going for speed.
- Stretch it out. After a run, take a good 30 minutes to stretch. Do this if you don’t want to be a walking stiff for the next few days.
- Splurge on good quality running gear. Invest in some key pieces for all types of weather, especially socks. Stay away from cotton and move towards synthetic fabrics that whisk sweat away from your body, keeping you dry and cool. Running clothes may be expensive, but if you treat them well, they’ll last you a long time. And the right shoes make all the difference. Go to the Running Room or New Balance – their reps can fit you with a pair that’s right for your gait.
- Have some good tunes on hand. I like a little Ramones to end my run – their songs are short enough for you to sprint towards the finish line. (But please be mindful of your surroundings – keep the volume low and your eyes alert.)