If only I could go back in time. How many times have any of you thought that? Well, if I could go back in time and specifically tell myself about running, there are quite a few things I could say.
I’ve always said I feel like I’ve always been a runner. As far back as I can remember, I remember running through my neighborhood and later running in college. Although I was on my school track and field team for a year, I usually just ran for fun on my own. As an adult, I didn’t even sign up for a race until after graduate school, but after that I was hooked on racing and began running longer and longer distances.
The sport of running has changed drastically since I first started running regularly in my 20’s. For the most part, things have improved over the years. Take running clothes for example. It was pretty common for people twenty years ago to run in cotton t-shirts, shorts, cotton socks, and whatever pair of athletic shoes you happened to already have. At least I wasn’t running in cotton, but I didn’t have a pair of athletic shoes specifically for running. I would just run in whatever pair of athletic shoes I currently was wearing. So I guess that’s where I would start, with what to wear.
1). There are a ton (with more coming all the time) of athletic apparel companies out there. Explore! Try them all out and find what really works for you and your body.
2). As far as running shoes go, definitely explore different brands and don’t just stick with the same brand for ten years. Mix it up and try different brands every year or so.
3). There’s way more out there than water and Gatorade for long runs. Look around online and pay attention to what other runners are fueling with. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If gels, gummies, and other similarly sticky substances aimed toward runners don’t suit you, no worries. Try, try, and try some more. Even when you’ve found something that doesn’t upset your stomach and gives you energy to make it through long runs, there’s nothing wrong with trying out something new. You never know; you might like it even better than what you’re currently using.
4). Don’t train for your first marathon by yourself. It’s one thing to run a 10 mile training run for a half marathon by yourself, but it’s an entirely different matter to run a 20 mile training run for a marathon by yourself. You’ll also want the advice and support from seasoned marathoners.
5). Join a running club. If you don’t fit in with one, try another and keep trying until you find one that’s like a second family. The support you’ll get from a running club will be invaluable.
6). You can get by with minimal stretching when you’re in you’re 20’s but later in life it will catch up with you. Join a gym where they offer yoga and go every single week. Buy a foam roller and use it after every single run. If you get into the habit of doing something early on, it will be easier to stick with.
7). Strength training is another thing that you can skip when you’re younger but it becomes more important as you get older. Focus on running-specific moves such as lunges, squats, and core-strengthening movements.
8). Start a running blog and follow others. Similar to a good running club, the support you’ll get from your regular readers will be huge. Also, you’ll learn a ton from your readers and the blogs you follow over the years.
9). Probably the biggest resounding theme for my advice to myself is to try new things when you’re training but not on race day. Be open to trying just about anything from what you wear, what you ingest before or during runs, and even who you run with. Just not on race day.
10). Finally, enjoy the ride! Don’t take yourself too seriously! You’ll still be a solid runner even if you don’t meet some goal time you’ve set for yourself. No one will judge you if you don’t finish a race in a certain time. You’re your own worst enemy when it comes to things like that.
What about you guys? What advice would you give to your younger running self?