I ran my last run this morning before my half marathon Saturday. I’ve been thinking for a while now about all the things that I have learned or experienced during this training process, and, since this is me we’re talking about, I thought I would share them!
Things to think about when running a lot – or – Man, I wish I had known that:
1. Running gear is expensive. Good shoes, possibly a watch, gear, and clothing adds up – quickly – even if you stick to stores like Target or Old Navy like I do.
2. The clothes you buy won’t last as long as regular clothes. Not that they’ll fall apart or anything, they will just stink. Like, stay away from others stinky. (I’ve been soaking mine in a mix of chlorine free Oxy-Clean and vinegar, and that has been a big help in getting the funk out of older stuff.)
3. You will be tired. Training for any type of competitive sporty activity will make you more tired than not. Yes, you will get the energy boost from said activity, but you will still have spent hours expending said energy and that will make you sleepy.
4. Think about what the training schedule will be like and really plan how you will do each day. I signed up for my race in the summer when my husband’s schedule was quite relaxed and I could get out easily and had more help around the house and with the kids. Once fall started up and his schedule went back to normal, that all changed. I wish I had realized how much that would change not only my training schedule, but also how it would impact the rest of my day. Running 3-5 miles at 7 or 8 am 3x/week did not affect me the way running 3-5 miles at 5 or 6 am 3x/week did, especially when I was back to being on my own with kids, school, house stuff 90% of the time. (See #3)
5. Talk out the training schedule with your partner if they will be picking up the slack when you are out. I wish I had done that as I think we would have avoided some unspoken resentment along the way. Refer them to point #3 (again). I went to bed earlier, I did less around the house – in general my energy levels were down. (This also had to do with my next point…)
6. Your eating habits and drinking habits will change. This was true more for me as a first timer than someone with more experience. I resisted changing things in those areas because, well, I had changed so much else I didn’t want to, damnit! After I did, though, I wished I had done it earlier.
7. Not all gear is necessary, but don’t skimp on certain things. Shoes are the big ones to get right. Get fitted if possible, but also listen to your feet (I know, I know, but you get it). I didn’t like any of the suggestions I was given for shoes, so I did some research at home and then I called Dick’s Sporting Goods. I spoke with a manager and asked if I could come by (later in the evening but not too close to closing, on a slower weeknight) and try some running shoes on and then test them on one of their treadmills. I gave 7-8 pairs a spin, and the manager (who was also a runner and who had to stand there while I used the machine) was able to spend some time just talking about the shoes and what might be a good fit.
8. Another kind of gear that you shouldn’t skimp on is safety stuff. These days I run more in the dark than during daylight hours, so I wear a reflective vest. I also considered wearing a headlamp, but my town has enough streetlights that I didn’t think it necessary.
9. To follow that…if you run in the dark, make sure you have run the same course in the daylight FIRST. I can attest that sidewalks and roads do not look or feel the same when it is very dark. Plus, shadows can be anything: actual shadows, wet (read:slippery) leaves, holes, or my personal nemesis, the ball bearing of the road: the walnut:
10. One last safety thing: be aware of your surroundings. In the dark if I listen to music at all I only use one ear bud. On busy roads I only use one or take them out completely. I am not a ninja runner, but I cannot tell you how many times I have surprised people coming up behind them. They had no idea anyone was approaching them quickly. I live in a safe town, but shitty things can happen anywhere, so keep your head up. Not only that, but no matter how bright your clothing might be, there will be drivers who will not see you. Don’t get so lost in the music that you aren’t safe
11. You might gain weight. My husband runs occasionally (he’s trying to start up again – go honey, go!). After running a few times per week for a month or so he weighed himself at the doctors (we don’t own a scale) and he had lost 7 pounds (woohoo!)! Around the same time, I visited my parents and I used their scale. Now, I was 10-11 weeks into training, logging more miles each month than I had ever thought possible, and – you guessed it – I had gained 7 pounds!! Once I calmed down I realized that yes, the scale had gone up, but I was wearing pants that I had bought 11 years and 3 kids ago. Forget the number and look at the big picture – how healthy you are and how fantastic your butt looks.
12. Be prepared for some not awesome things to happen to your skin. Some people might just be glowing all the time, but others, like myself, might look like a tomato when done running and get blemishes in odd, uncomfortable, or embarrassing places. For the first time ever, I have gotten neck acne. Lovely little bumps below my ears. Super sexy.
13. This is the best stuff ever. Just use it.
14. While I have had moments where I have absolutely hated the whole idea of running, I am already thinking about what race I might want to try next. I’ve met and reconnected with some really great people through training for this half, and I’m really happy to be here.
I’m sure there is so much more to know, but I haven’t been at it long enough. I also know that this post is long enough as it is!!! Less than 2 days until the race! I’ll let you know how it goes!!!
Note from Me:
I’ve been compiling this list for a while in my head, and when I went to start writing it down I realized that I should properly notate it. You see, I am new to this, and I wasn’t sure if some things were typical or happening just to me, so when in doubt, I googled stuff. The one place I went to for help was a great blog called Shut Up + Run, and Beth who runs it (get it?!?) is a wonderful source for honesty and help. Specifically, after the scale incident I checked there about weight gain. It was on her site that I saw her own list of “20 Things No One Tells You About Running”, and it had the stinky clothes thing, too. I just want to be super clear that I did not steal her thoughts, because that would make me a total thieving jerk.