Since I started running a few years ago, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about how I got started, what I wear, what I eat before I run, etc. So I wanted to answer a few of those questions. What you’ll learn here is definitely for the novice runner — ’cause that’s what I am. But if any of my more experienced runner friends can add something, please do so in the comments!
1. What do you wear?
My running gear has consisted of the same things for a few years now: some type of Lycra pants/capris (Target and Old Navy are great for these), a more fitted T (those that are made for exercise, with sweat wicking, etc., are more comfy than, say, your favorite team’s T, but I do wear both, short socks (I like the Champion brand ones from Target) and my New Balance sneakers with the inserts to help my plantar fasciitis. Sometimes I wear this headband to help keep the sweat out of my ears, which messes up my ear buds. Gross, I know. Also, probably TMI, but I like a well-fitting, almost tight sports bra to keep the girls in check and, sadly, I wear full brief underwear when I run. I just can’t wear anything cute or sexy when I’m trying to get my run on.
2. What do you eat before a run?
This has changed for me, but my consistent go-to is a piece of bread, sometimes with a smidge of peanut butter spread on it. I know it doesn’t sound like much! But if I’m only going to run a few miles or less, this will give me a little fuel while not sitting like a brick in my stomach. Some things that haven’t worked for me: yogurt, cereal with milk (really, anything dairy is just a no-no before a run for me), banana (not sure why, but it doesn’t sit well with me, though I do eat them after running to help prevent cramping!), a full bagel — a half is all you need, eat the other half after! I also try to drink a lot of water every day, but I don’t drink a ton right before a run. Anything sloshing around in my stomach is just a bad idea.
3. How did you get started?
I started running thanks to my friend Summer. She convinced me that the Couch to 5K program was a great way to start running and not feel intimidated. We started running outside, which I highly recommend (the treadmill sometimes stops you from finding your own true pace, in my opinion). Find a Couch to 5K program online and follow it, running slowly at first. I still run really slow — usually a 13-minute mile. But there are times when I started out, and even now because of my plantar, that running 15-minute miles is what feels best. Don’t judge yourself by how fast you can run. Just run/jog and then walk as the Couch to 5K program directs you, and you’ll amaze yourself at how much progress you make!
4. Do you stretch or ice or anything after running?
Yes! I stretch a little bit before running. I heard once that it’s not great to be too stretched out before your run, so I always try to stretch my legs out, my torso and arms, but I don’t spend a lot of time doing this before I run. After, though, I take my time and get on the floor and really stretch out my legs, feet, arms, torso, back … I do any and every stretch move that I’ve ever learned. (For great stretches after you run, check out this page on Runners World.) And I do ice my knees. Not as often as I should, probably, but I usually ice each knee for about 10 minutes. Because I have plantar fasciitis, I also roll the soles of my feet around on a tennis ball whenever I’m sitting around — I usually do it at my desk at work!
5. Do you ever feel awkward while running because you’re overweight?
I have to be honest, I haven’t ever had someone ask me this question directly. But it’s a question I’ve asked myself. And the truth is: Yes. Sometimes I get out on the running trail and I see all these slimmer, fit bodies running — faster than me — and I wonder, “What must they think of me, trying to run out here with them?” But this is just something that, 99% of the time, is in your own head. It’s a demon you have to fight within yourself. Most people I’ve encountered, at any type of workout, are supportive and encouraging and instead of giving you a judgmental look, they give you a smile. I get looks all the time, from men and women, that say, “Way to go!” It’s like we’re all in a club — no matter what we look like, we’re out there trying to better ourselves. Trying to run farther, run faster, lose weight or tone up or maintain. I have friends who I run with who are working to lose weight, like myself, and I have super-fit friends who run marathons all the time who I run with who are just as amazing to me as someone who is “in my shoes,” per se. So don’t worry about what other people think. They’re likely thinking, “That girl is awesome for being out here!”