3 tips for new runners

I started running in half-mile stretches, then 1 mile stretches. And I hated it. That was in March, April and May. Now it’s the end of June. And I can finally run 3 miles. And I kinda like it, despite broadcasting to the world that I never would.

I thought running would come easy for me, that I would be running that far much sooner. But it took 3 months, a lot of bitching, and these 3 tips from my runner friends to get me here:

1.    Slow down. I was trying to run under 10 minute miles because I could. But I could only run 1 mile at that speed, then I would do a lot of over watch-checking and under distance-guestimating trying to push into mile 2. I was spent. So I slowed down to 10:30-45 min miles. And suddenly I could go longer, find a rhythm, breathe. Granted, this isn’t racing speed but it’s satisfying nonetheless. A friend told me to concentrate on going longer before going faster.
2.     Don’t give yourself permission to stop. This is what I was doing – bargaining every mile. OK, if I run 1 mile, I can walk half a mile, then run again. The curse of that is that the second mile is just as hard, if not harder because you have to start again and find your rhythm again. I was really only prolonging the misery.

My friend Cassy told me, “If you give yourself permission to stop, you will.” She said this during our first run together. Wherein she took off the down the trail, didn’t look back and didn’t ask me how far or how fast I wanted to go. She ran slow and sure and I was shocked to find, with Cassy’s funny stories leading me down the trail and not checking my watch every tenth of a mile, that I could run 2 miles on the trail, then, behold, 3.

Sidenote: Misery you say? When does that go away, you’d like to know? I’m not sure it does. But it’s a delightfully accessible sport – you can do it for a little or a long time, on any terrain, at any time of the day or night. You feel like puking a bit every time but you always seem to start out optimistically, every run a wide open opportunity. And I like that it’s so hard that baby steps feel huge.

3.     Start small. In direct conflict to point 2. But it’s how I got up to 3 miles – by starting at half-mile intervals and tacking on a half mile more when I could. This also helps avoid injury by not doing too much too fast. My problem was that I was doing the intervals and scared to make the jump. I did the run/walk intervals without thinking of pushing past them. Now I’m at the unbelievable point of running 3.5 miles, my latest goal. Oh and I started running the big mofo hill on my road. I’m feeling crazy!