I’ve been doing serious running and training for about 10 weeks now. In that brief time I have learned some really important lessons.
- Get good running shoes. I can’t stress this enough. They don’t need to be expensive, but they do have to be comfortable and the correct size. I recommend going to an actual running shop if you can. They employ experts that are enthusiastic about running and their insight can be truly beneficial. I went to the Endurunce Shop in St. Cloud. Wear or bring your existing running shoes if you already own a pair and let the shoe expert examine the wear pattern. Describe to them any concerns or issues you may have. I had terrible blisters on the arches of my feet and learned that my shoe were half a size too small. And just as a bonus, I learned that I run on the balls of my feet so pronation & supination are not a problem. My blisters went away after I started using my new shoes.
- Get quality running socks. What does this mean? Avoid cotton, it doesn’t wick away sweat. Look for polypropylene, a synthetic fiber that wicks away moisture. This also helps cut down on friction blisters. Socks with seamless toes are a great invention! They are what I prefer to wear because I hate discomfort caused by toe seams. Thin socks or socks with padded soles are a matter a personal preference. Try a few out and find out what you like.
- Don’t tie your shoes too tight. I was so concerned about getting a snug fit so that I wouldn’t get blisters that I was causing other problems. Your feet will expand as you run and they need some wiggle room. If you tie your shoes too tight your feet may fall asleep as you run or you could start to experience other foot pain.
- If you’re a woman, invest in a good sports bra. Or several if you can afford them. This really is for obvious reasons. Cutting down on excessive movement will make your run more enjoyable and you will experience less pain later. I’ve found the Fiona bra from Moving Comfort to a great choice, especially for those of us with bigger girls.
- Start slow and celebrate your small victories. Did you just run 10 minutes with out stopping? Hooray! Did you just finish your first 5K? Yay!! I am still excited knowing that I finally cut my running time down from 13 minute miles to 10:30 to 11 minute miles. This certainly isn’t the speediest pace, but it’s great for me! And I have worked hard to get to this point.
- Log your food and exercise in a journal, daily, every day. No cheating. This will help you get a handle on exactly what you’re eating and where you may have room for improvement. Over time it also shows your accomplishments and how far you’ve come. I record the calories and fat in everything I eat, my activity and the calories I’ve burned, and simple notes about how I’m feeling. Weekly I record my goal weight and my actual weight.
- Too few daily calories is bad for you and can sabotage your efforts. Not getting enough calories in a day will cause your body to start burning lean muscle and not fat during cardiovascular activities. Women shouldn’t go fewer than 1200 calories per day and men shouldn’t go below 1500 calories. Find your optimal daily calorie requirements and shoot for that. Remember, if you exercise more you will need to eat more to meet your calorie requirements. I use Calorie Count to look up nutrition and calorie information for food and calories burned during different activities.
- Don’t beat yourself up. If you go over on your calories, or if you miss a day of exercise, don’t fret about it. Tomorrow is a new day and you get the chance to start fresh. Improving your fitness and striving for weight loss is not a quick process. It is a journey. Don’t be too strict. You’re trying to change your lifestyle, not punishing yourself into weight loss.
- Work fitness into your day. Start wearing a pedometer. I recommend an Omron HJ-303. It is not your traditional pendulum style and is more accurate. Then start walking. Take the stairs. Park further from the building. Walk during your breaks at work. I strive for two walks a day of approximately 1 mile each. Not only will it make you feel better physically, it will give you a few minute break from work or family to clear your head.
What have you learned that you would like to share?