Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Take It and Run Thursday – Basics of Running

Amy at Runner's Lounge has started the fun event called Take It and Run Thursday, in which blogging runners all post about a similar topic, put their heads together, and come up with brilliance. Cool, huh? The first topic is Basics of Running.

If I were to give just one piece of basic advice to aspiring runners, it would be this:

Don’t be intimidated.

So many of the fears I’ve heard from my friends who are starting running boil down to them being intimidated by their lack of experience. They don’t want to look or feel foolish. There is truly no need to be concerned. Runners are among the kindest, most supportive people I have ever met. Nobody is going to laugh at you for being slow, for asking dumb questions, or for not finishing first.

Let’s look at a few places where a novice runner might feel intimidated, and I can promise you, your fears are unfounded.

The very first thing you need when you start running is a good pair of shoes. The best place to go to get those shoes is a store that is dedicated to running. That is where you will be able to get the personalized attention and service you need to get the best pair of shoes for you. Does the idea of that scare you? It shouldn’t. Don’t be intimidated. The staff at those running stores are used to dealing with runners of all levels. And let me tell you, they will be so happy that you’ve chosen to spend your money at their store, and not at Dick’s, that they will give you fantastic service. Don’t be intimidated – go to a running store and get a great pair of shoes.

I know some people who have wanted to start running, but are afraid to leave the confines of the treadmill at the gym. They’re afraid that they’ll look pathetic out there on the street, chugging along too slowly. Don’t be intimidated. The other runners who see you think, “Hey there, fellow runner!” and are just happy to see a comrade. The people driving past you on the streets will either think, “Hey, good for her,” or “Man, I should really do that.” Not one single person will think poorly of you.

Once you start running on a regular basis, you’ll be tempted to enter a race. After all, free t-shirt! But maybe you’re afraid of how you’ll look. After all, what if you come in dead last? What if you’re way, way at the back of the pack? Again, don’t be intimidated. One of the things that makes running unique as a sport is that people can compete in different levels in perfect harmony. When I ran the Bix 7 last year, I finished with a time of 1:10:13. Wude Ayalew , the women’s winner, finished with a time of 36:57. Obviously, she is in a different league than I am, and yet, she and I ran the very same race. That’s like a person who enjoys shooting hoops in their driveway playing a game of basketball with Michael Jordan. Even better, an elite runner and I can both be challenged in a race like that, on our own levels. There’s room for success at any level – even for beginners – so long as you’re not intimidated.


Non-Runner Nancy said...

And, I so often am! Thanks. Great post. I will try to keep this in mind as I am bringing up the back of the back of the pack. :D

Tom said...

Great advice, Betsy!

I hope a million others read this post. So true about how our race times and capabilities don't separate us. Just being a runner unites us.

Ed said...

Good advice. So much of what is written about running is done by marathoners, sprinters, or people who sprint marathons. It can be intimidating as a beginner when you are stumbling along, feeling like you are at death's door, with your 12 minute miles.

bill carter said...

Hi Betsy

Great post. I don't think there are very many runners out there who would ever judge another runner. As a whole we are a pretty down to earth group and very respecting of our fellow runners. It is the couch potatoes who give us funny looks.. as they finish their bag of Doritoes:-)

*lisa* said...

great post. reminds me of one of my mantras:

Dead last is better than Did Not Finish and Did Not Finish is way better than Did Not Start

chloe elizabeth said...

Excellent advice. I think this is the key. After completing my first marathon, people would always say, "I could never do that." I would get so frustrated. Now, if they didn't want to, that's one thing, but really, barring physical disabilities, I think anyone can run. Anyone.

Great post!

RazZDoodle said...

I totally agree about the intimidation aspect. The guys at our local running store are some of the nicest, most patient guys. I think I've exchanged at least 4 pairs of shoes in the short amount of time that I've run.

Running Knitter said...

Thank you for this post. :)

Viv said...

Great post, I always felt like everyone was looking me out there running when I was 50 pounds heavier, and still since I am nowhere near the runner's body. I keep at it, and listened to a friend tell me. Nobody looks at you as much as you think they do, now be a runner and get outhere. Loved it Betsy!!

kara said...

Lots of wisdom - thanks for sharing.
Sometimes it's hard to be just yourself.

Doug said...

Great post. Its so true that runner's are some of the most accepting people around.

I run with a group of 30-40 people every Saturday, and new comers are always welcomed with open arms!

Even the ones who are only able to make it a few miles, or at a slow pace are treated just like the speed demons!

Bev said...

Nice post and so true!