Some Unsolicited Running Advice from a Self-Appointed “Expert”

As I mentioned yesterday in my deeply empowering half marathon recap, I am all in on this running lifestyle. I have drunk (drank?) the kool-aid! Well, Gatorade, if we’re being precise. I might go so far as to call myself a runner. Last week a friend of mine asked me how I got myself into running, saying that learning to love the sport is a goal of hers. I adore talking about myself and pretending to be an expert so I figured I’d share my tips for the whole WORLD to enjoy.

For the record this is a real person, named Katie. I’m not just making this up so I can continue to brag about my physical fitness.

So! Just a few verbose (as always!) thought below, may they inspire you to love running as much as I have. And I knowwww this is getting boring, I swearity-swear this is my last running post for at least a week.

HOW TO BECOME A RUNNER:

ADVICE FROM SOMEONE WHO JUST RAN THEIR FIRST HALF MARATHON AND NOW THINKS SHE’S A TOTAL EXPERT 

1a) Sign up for a race. 

Having a goal to work towards gives you a light at the end of the tunnel, a reason to get up from the couch and pound the pavement. There are plenty of races for every level from beginner to pro. Pro races are also known as The Olympics and if you’re qualified for those you probably don’t need to be reading this blog.

1b) Then tell EVERYONE. 

This step is possibly the most vital step of all. The more people you tell about your race plans, the dopier you’ll look if you drop out.  Registering for a race is a big step, but does it even count if no one knows? If a tree falls in a forest, etc? I suppose you could just rely on your own self for motivation but personally I am most moved by the admiration and acceptance of other people, so I made sure to tell literally the entire internet the moment I signed up for my half marathon and then when I trained, I visualized myself crossing the finish line to applause and then instantly uploading photos to multiple social media forums where my loved ones would heap praise upon me.

I am a) barely exaggerating and b) not ashamed and can’t stress highly enough how important step 1b is to your success.

2) Dress the part.

Until very recently, I was completely unconvinced as to the necessity of quote-unquote workout clothes. Why would I spend my hard earned money on UnderArmor leggings and tank tops when I could wear a free t-shirt from some kind of college volunteer day and a pair of enormous Nike soccer shorts that I have had since literally 2008 when I purchased because they were part of the official uniform of the US Women’s World Cup Team? Girls who wear cute workout clothes can’t possibly be taking it seriously. They’re just trying to look adorable, unlike me over here in my grungy apparel, holding my shorts up with a safety pin. A true athlete!

My attitude was entirely changed this Christmas, when Brian’s parents sweetly gifted me with some warm weather running gear – a pair of black tights with jazzy hot pink pattern zipping up the calves and a matching hot pink zip-up jacket. It was unlike anything I would ever purchase for myself, but it instantly became my favorite outfit and somewhat of a motivational costume. Putting it on I transformed from casual jogger to Hot Running Girl! Fit and fashionable.

I’ve since purchased a few “running” outfits and they help keep me motivated. Putting on my sweat-wicking tank top and compression capris tells my brain: “NOW WE ARE RUNNING!” Silly? Maybe! But it works for me.

If you’re in the market, Marshall’s & TJ Maxx always have tons of name brands on supersale and Old Navy, my #1 favorite clothing retailer has a great line of workout attire at spectacular prices!

All this said, don’t go too overboard, this is still a workout, not a fashion show. And NO ONE likes the girl who matches  her bellybutton ring to her neon crop-top. A little subtly goes a long way.

3) Make a Plan…and Keep Visual Track of your Progress 

The internet is chock FULL of free training plans for all sorts of races. I’ve heard rave reviews about the Couch to 5K program for beginners and Runners World has a series of training plans for every level.

I worked with a plan by some guy called Hal Higdon, with a few tweaks by my personal trainer, Brian. I loved this training plan – simple, adaptable and knowing exactly what was expected of me each week helped me to stay motivated and energized.

I made a series of calendars for myself for the duration of my training process, indicating what was on the lineup for each day and also leaving a space for me to write what I actually achieved that day. Most training plans are very general, just Week 1, Week 2, etc and for me, seeing the physical calendar dates was helpful.

For the first month I was diligent about updating with my actual mileage and though I sort of fell off that wagon by month 2, I still consulted the calendar regularly to remind myself what was upcoming. Seeing the long run distance inch up by one mile per week made me feel like such a badass.

4) Reward Yourself

Cheese burgers after long runs? DON’T MIND IF I DO.

5) Have a Buddy

I ran this race by myself, but had lots of buddies helping me prep for it. I had Brian running beside me on all of my long runs, encouraging me every day and standing on the sidelines cheering for me while I raced. My cousin Dani ran her first half marathon a few weeks before I did and we emailed back and forth about how much we loved it and another cousin, Kelly who took up running around the same time and has been slaying it in races all spring, shares inspirational quotes and photos on Facebook, encouraging me to keep it up too . And my friend Mary also ran her first half earlier this spring, so we’d compare training notes, run along the river together after work and bond over our new-found obsession with running. Weirdly enough, Mary and I got basically the exact same times on our first half marathons! How cool is that.

There are lots of local running clubs in my area, but I’ve been hesitant to join one, the huge group mentality kind of stresses me out and I wasn’t quite ready to make that commitment. But maybe it’ll work for you! Or find one pal to train with or just see who else in your group of friends/office is a runner and bond with them.  It is fun to have someone to comiserate with and, like my crazy mentality that if you tell everyone you’ll be less likely to quit, it helps me to feel like I’m  not alone…I’m running for Brian and Mary and Kelly and Dani and everyone!

In the whole world!!!!!

Grandiose, much?!

7) Rock the Tunes

I never listened to music while running until very recently. I’d either run with Brian and talk to him or run on the treadmill and watch old episodes of How I Met Your Mother. I also didn’t know how to play music on my phone because I am the worlds smartest modern human. Luckily, this spring I discovered both Songza and Google Play Music and with their help was able to put together a pretttty baller running playlist.

Running to Songza (or Pandora, I guess) is super fun because you don’t know what song is coming next, so it’s a fun surprise every time! This helped me to discover some awesome throwbacks from college (ain’t no Hollaback Girl!) and then spend most of my run just reminiscing about listening to those songs on repeat with my pals. I then figured out how to create my own playlists, but still like to play on shuffle so I’m always on my toes. This is really boring…why don’t I just stop talking and share what I’m jamming to lately: 

  • Lorde, Royals 
  • Pitbull & Ke$ha, Timber (I could basically listen to this song on repeat all day and night both while running and just while going about my day.) 
  • Rihanna, Don’t Stop the Music 
  • Danity Kane, Damaged (cue memories of 2008 girls vacation to Miami!) 
  • Taylor Swift, We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together (LIKE I wasn’t going to have some Swizz on here)
  • One Direction, Best Song Ever (I’m an adult!)
  • Katy Perry, Roar 
  • Katy Perry, Teenage Dream
  • Katy Perry, T.G.I.F (I just really like Katy Perry)
  • Nicki Minaj, Starships
  • Kanye West et. al, Monster (I always go extra hard during Nicki’s verse. You can be the king now watch the queen conquer!) 
  • Icona Pop, I Don’t Care 
  • Austin Mahone, Mmm Hmm Yeah (I have no idea who this person is and I’m pretty sure he might be 12 but it came on my songza one day and features Pitbull and I can’t say no to Pitbull and now I love this song.) 
  • Anything Taio Cruz has ever done: Dynamaite, Break Your Heart and my personal favorite song Hangover, which introduces the genius term “shitfaceded” 
  • Flo Rida, Wild Ones
  • Nelly, Country Grammar 
  • Kelly Clarkson, Stronger
  • Sara Bareilles, Brave 
  • Destiny’s Child, Bootylicious
  • Jackson Five, ABC 
  • Little Mix, Wings (again, I have no idea who these people are but this song is a jimmity jam)
  • Avicii, Wake Me Up (I don’t really approve of Electronic Dance Music or “EDM” as the kids/cools are calling it but I do like this song!)
  • Bastille, Pompeii (heyyydey oh, hey-dey) 
  • Cobra Starship, Good Girls Gone Bad
  • Beyonce, Crazy in Love (obviously always and forever) 

6) Don’t Be Afraid to look Dumb

I was talking to someone recently who didn’t want to run in public because they were worried they’d look dumb. And as much as I want to pretend to be above that, I totally get it. Fear of looking stupid is one of the main reasons I quit trying yoga so I need to learn to practice what I preach. So for both me and all of you to keep in mind: who cares! Who cares if you stop and walk or run slow or think you swing your arms weird or if you air drum while running and dance at stoplights. Everybody looks weird doing everything and no one is paying attention to you, they’re all busy worrying about what they look like.

8) Just. Keep. Running. 

This is a little hippie dippy and hard to quantify but at a certain point your brain is going to want to stop running and you’re going to have to tell it to shut the eff up. One of the simultaneously most exciting and challenges for me while training was when I realized that my body could  keep running. That when I felt tired or bored or ready to quit it wasn’t my body giving out but my brain giving up. I had to figure out how to shut off the part of me that wanted to quit, walk and go home and just. keep. running.

I don’t know what to tell you to do this in your life. For me, it was turning up my music, staring right ahead and literally saying, out-loud (see what I said about looking weird?!): “you’ve got this, Liz. Keep going.” And then I’d keep going.

In the time it took you to think about quitting, your legs probably went two, three, four more steps. You CAN do it.

9) Go Ahead and Brag! 

Proud of your training or your race time? Pat yourself on the back! Go ahead and upload that finish line photo to multiple social media feeds and watch the likes roll in.

10) Always End Lists with Even Numbers! 

And those are my tips!

I am obviously super clearly not an expert but people (one person) were begging for my advice (politely asking about my training routine) and I have to give the world what it wants! I hope this inspires at least one person to get out and start running both because it’s super fun and also because I’m DYING to be considered a positive role model.

Now, let me ask you: How do YOU get motivated – to run or otherwise? Runners, anything you think I’m missing? Any workout songs you’d suggest?! 

Thanks for reading this! I have no idea how to end this post. OK BYE!  Smooches!

 

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