The Runner’s Guide For The Non-Runner

Wait…huh?  It’s true.  There are runners and there are non-runners.  I think of myself as a non-runner.  And by that I mean I do run, but I don’t have that nice, easy stride, I have to constantly remind myself to relax my shoulders and arms, and until recently, I was always gasping for air.  You could probably hear me breathing before you could see me.  I could barely blurt out a one word answer if someone asked me a question in the middle of my run.  This is what I mean: 

The last couple of months, I learned how to run, but I don’t feel like I look like a runner yet.  I see those people and they just are gliding along with little to no effort.  I’m still a little like the picture above, but I can get out an actual sentence now and my body is a bit more relaxed. 

For all those people who claim they can’t run, I’m here to tell you that you can.  I don’t think I need a disclaimer here, but I’m not a doctor or trainer, these are just my opinions and things that have taken me 35 years to figure out.  I’m not going to BS anyone here, these are real problems I had and my solutions.  I’m guessing I’m not the only one and if I am, then you might find the following kind of funny and or disturbing.

  • First things first – get some gear.  You don’t need to spend a lot of money, but get something comfortable to run in.  I always wanted to run in shorts, but due to the size of my thighs, my shorts would creep up and I was constantly pulling my shorts out of my crotch.  Solution:  Biking shorts or compression shorts.  I also got some Under Armor shorts that my friend, Heather recommended and for whatever reason, they don’t ride up.  If you are worried about what you look like in tight shorts – get over it.  No one is looking at you.  Here is what I look like…Yeah, Baby, Yeah!  I normally can’t stand anything pulled up this high, but I think I would actually like running in Spanx because things don’t move around as much.  These are Danskin – I got them at Walmart.  I hate spending money on clothes that I’m going to sweat in.
Rory insisted on being in the picture.
  • Start slooooooooow.  If you have never run before, don’t expect to go out and run like you did when you were a kid.  I always thought I had to go as fast as I could right out of the gate.  I would run for about 10 minutes, get exhausted and thus end my workout.  Once I started slowing down and not worrying about how fast I was running, I was running 30 minutes without a problem and actually deciding to go further than I originally intended.  My once 10 minute limit is now a much easier 30 to 45 minute run.  That means a lot more calories burned.
  • It doesn’t matter how much you weigh.  I used to run when I weighed 165lbs and now I weigh 145lbs.  I do notice that it’s easier to run now, but when I was running with an extra 20lbs, I don’t recall it being that much harder. 
  • Learn to recover while you are running.  I used to just stop and walk when I got tired.  That would totally throw me off.  I would feel like I failed and didn’t even see the point of starting up again.  If I did start running again, it was hard to find a good pace and the next thing I knew, I was back to walking – feeling even more defeated.  Now, when I’m running down any kind of hill, I recover.  I slow down, catch my breath and get back to a level where I can keep on going.
  • Run by yourself or find a running partner who won’t push or compete with you.  This is hard.  Ryan and I ran a race together 7 years ago.  We haven’t run one together since.  Ryan liked to encourage me, but his encouragement sounded insulting to me.  I know he didn’t mean it that way, but when I’m huffing and puffing and just trying to take my next step, I don’t want or need someone telling me “Keep going!”  Ryan is 6 feet tall.  I’m 5’5″ on a good day.  Somebody is going to have a longer stride and it isn’t me.  You don’t have to run as fast or as long as someone else.  Work at your own pace.  The last thing you want to do is get discouraged the first time you run.  The great thing about running is that you can always compete against yourself.  You can try and run faster or longer than you did the time before.  You could argue that it’s not bad to have someone push you, but if you are going faster or harder than you are ready for, you risk getting hurt and then you are done running.
  • Don’t avoid hills.  Oh hills. Those mother f’ing hills.  I am surrounded by hills.  Unless I decide I’m going to run around the block 15 times, I can’t avoid running up a hill.  I used to think I had to maintain my pace up the hill.  DUH!  Now I understand I can slow down, take shorter steps, pump my arms and make it up the hill without dying.  Not feeling limited where you can run is nice.  I used to actually get nervous before I would start my run if I knew I was going up certain hills.
  • Accept that not every run is going to be a good run.  Some days you just feel off and even a mile seems endless.  Other days, you feel AWESOME.  On those days, take advantage of that feeling and just keep going!  I don’t have those awesome days very often, but regardless of how my run was, when I get done, that runner’s high kicks in and all is right with the world.

I know I’m forgetting more of my tips and tricks that have made me close to calling myself a runner.  Maybe in a couple of months I’ll be effortlessly running and someone will be admiring my stride from afar and saying “I wish I could run like that.”

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2 thoughts on “The Runner’s Guide For The Non-Runner

  1. I liked this post about running. I love to hate it but I know how GOOD it is at burning calories so I always TRY to keep up with it. I usually fail. However, you wrote about pretty much everything I feel when I attempt a run. Actually, I'll call it a jog,not a run. It's good to know I'm not alone. Maybe I can conquer this running thing, afterall. And that spandex shot…well, that's why Im a "follower". Good stuff right there, baby! 🙂

  2. I aim to please, Cindy. I used to be so concerned what people would think of me when I was running, but those people were usually just standing there – at least I was out there trying to do something!

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