I started running in the fall of 2010. I had just quit smoking (like 10 days prior to my first run) put on a pair of loose cotton pants, laced up some cross trainers and headed out my door. I had no idea how far I had gone but later drove the route in my car and estimated it to be a mile based on my odometer. (Side note: it was over two years later that I started using a GPS watch!) In the almost 7 years since I started this journey, I’ve learned a thing or two about running. By and large, the majority of what I’ve learned has come through personal trial and error. I didn’t know many runners at first and while the internet was helpful, it wasn’t a place I frequented in those early years. The mistakes were aplenty. Some lessons came easier than others. But despite the blisters, chafing and bonking I’ve experienced in those early years (and truthfully, still do at times today), I’m grateful for the experience. Maybe my head is harder than most but here are the true life sometimes funny, sometimes odd and sometimes just plain stupid mistakes I’ve made along the way:
- Not taking enough rest days. I don’t think this is necessarily an obvious thing that people just know to do. I think it is all too common to have the idea that more miles equals better running. And in theory, yes this can work. But for me, I need to have at least 1-2 rest days per week to effectively recover. And yes I know that mounds of research exists to support this but I had to learn this key training tip the good old fashioned way-through pain and suffering.
- Not investing in a good sports bra. You know how they say that your bra’s should have birthday’s? (I swear this is a thing they say) Well some of my sports bras not only had birthdays but were old enough to drive. Yep, I was wearing bras purchased in high school. It took the purchase of a brand new, fitted just for me sports bra to make me realize that essentially I was hanging on by a thread which was doing me no favors in the support department. Lesson learned.
- Running while sick. Now this one kind of falls on a spectrum thing. On one end, you have your standard cold symptoms-runny nose, itchy eyes, feel like crap. I will run through this. I may back off of intensity but I will continue to run. If I stopped running due to cold symptoms, I may very well be taking off multiple weeks per year (parent of a germy toddler over here.) What I won’t run through (anymore) is a fever and/or nausea. I had strep in the winter of 2015 but because I was run streaking, I continued to run. And I felt terrible! And I got “caught” running by a normal non runner person who knew I was sick and I’m pretty sure she thought I was legit crazy. So nope, fever and puking keep me at home these days.
- Eating 5 star spicy pad Thai before a run. So I know you may be asking yourself “why are you eating pad Thai before a run? Don’t you run at 5am?” Well, before I became a mom, I was an afternoon runner. I would go to work, change in my office, and run in the Metroparks afterwards. We often got Thai carryout for lunch at work and because I LOVE spicy food, I would get the spiciest they could make. Sadly, I encountered the wrath of spicy food/running several times before I finally stopped subjecting myself to the torture of simultaneous heartburn and side stitches.
- Not eating before a run. So conversely, not eating before a run has led me to some epic crashes. It’s not always intuitive as to what to eat before hand. I know some runners who eat a protein and fat combo before running but that absolutely doesn’t agree with me at all. I’ve learned that for my body, I need to eat 100-200 calories, preferably from carbs before setting out. I also have learned that even if it’s “just” a short run, my body really does need some fuel.
- Comparing myself to other runners. I am definitely a “march to the beat of your own drum” runner for the most part. But with the advent of social media, it’s hard to not get pulled into the trap of comparison. I was running with some wise women a few months ago and one of them shared the adage “comparison is the thief of joy” which really struck me. I’ve often repeated it to myself when I’m filled with self doubt. When I trained for my first marathon in 2012, no one was documenting their running the way we do today. Now I just have to look at instagram to see down to the second what pace and distances are being run by my peers. This isn’t healthy for me. I need to stay in my own proverbial lane where I’m much happier and a much more effective runner.
- Not using enough body glide. Heat. Humidity. Rain. Enough said
- Running my hard runs too easy and my easy runs too hard. I’m just now learning the importance of the 80/20 guideline-80% of your runs should be easy, 20% hard. This has meant slowing way down for the majority of my runs and pushing much harder on the other days. It took a triathlete friend of mine to change my thinking with regards to hard and easy days. Truthfully I could devote a whole post to this so maybe I’ll save that for another day.
- Avoiding group runs. In the past, I’ve sometimes skipped the opportunity to run with other people for fear of being too slow, too talkative, too whatever I get in my head about. The reality is that this just hasn’t panned out to be true. This is my own negative self doubt creeping in. Now am I going to join a high school cross country team for practice? No, but I sure as heck am not going to let this thinking hold me back from my running stores regular fun runs.
- Neglecting everything other than running. It took me at least two years to realize the importance of foam rolling, regular yoga, cross training, stretching, and core, lower back, and glute/hip strengthening. And I only learned this because of injury. Now whenever anyone asks (or gets stuck with me on a long run) I share how important these things are. These are 100% non negotiable in my world. Without devoting time to this, my running is going to suffer.
Ok so there are my top ten mistakes. And as promised, they are funny, sad and unfortunately lessons in common sense. If I could leave you with one thing, it is Never Forget Body Glide!!! This post is not sponsored by Body Glide. But if the Body Glide people are reading this and want to send some my way, I won’t be mad attcha.