August 13, 2012

5 things I learned from my running group

Last year at this time, I was joining a training program through a local running store for my first half marathon. I hadn’t run more than 3.1 miles ever. I was nervous, scared and a little excited.

A year later, I’m joining the same training group for the same half marathon. I’m mostly excited, but still a little nervous. I still feel like such a new runner; I have so much to learn. But, I did learn some things from last year that I can apply to this training group.

1. Don’t be afraid to spend money on shoes.

I’m cheap (or frugal as I’m told sounds better). So, when my coach suggested buying some new running shoes, I was hesitant. I mean, he is a manager of a running store, was he just trying to make a sale? Could I really justify spending almost $100 on shoes? Would it really make that much of a difference? Was I really an overpronator that needed a stability shoe?

I kept running in my neutral, worn-down Asics because I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money. I thought they were fine ... until I finally broke down and spent money on a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11. Holy cow! These shoes were amazing! My weak ankle felt more supported, and they really helped my entire body feel better while running.

I love you.

Lesson learned: shoes are the most important and critical part of running. Spend money on a decent pair. Get evaluated and fitted by your local running store. Do it. It’s worth it.

2. Make it to running group as often as possible.

I’m proud to say that I rarely ever skipped a run on my training plan. Sometimes I didn’t make it to my training group, but I’d almost always make up the run on my own. So, that was great. What wasn’t great was running by myself.
Sometimes, a missed run meant a trip to the
craptastic gym. I may be smiling in this
photo, but I'm not that happy.

Sometimes I had legitimate reasons for missing a group run: getting stuck at work or being out of town. Sometimes the reason was laziness: I slept in on a Sunday instead of doing the long run with the group. It is not fun (for me, at least) to run 10 miles on your own. I need the group support, and as much as I dread waking up so early on a Sunday, I need to knock the run out early in the day.

3. Get more sleep.

This could just be a general life rule, but I think it’s extremely important when running. Feeling tired while running is not cool. Also I found that if I was exhausted, I’d be less excited about heading to running group after work. It makes for a long day, and the temptation to skip out on a run usually only happened with a lack of sleep.

4. Hydrate.

I’m a night runner when left on my own, and I usually don’t carry water with me on my runs. When I joined a group that runs at 6:30 p.m. in August, yikes! It’s really hot and that big, scary ball of fire is still in the sky. So, not only did I need to hydrate like crazy during the day, but I also found I needed to bring water to carry with me (and sometimes an extra bottle for the end). When in doubt, always have water available. The times that I really struggled with runs were the days that I lacked proper hydration. Just drink.

5. Don't forget your watch.

There's something to be said for running Garmin-less every now and then. When you're running timed speed intervals with your training group, that is not the time. I forgot my watch a number of times (usually because it was charging), and it was painful. Just as important as shoes are to running, my watch is pretty darn important, too. So, this needs to be a priority.


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