Slow Down & Other Need-to-know Things

I'm all about the anniversaries. I mark little moments and remember tiny details. And I'm all about celebrating. One year ago today, the day after my 25th birthday, I ran my first race! It was a 5k, and I crossed the finish line in 29:05. I'll never forget those combinations of numbers as long as I live.

Anyway. Over the past year or so I've had more than a handful of people ask for some basic new-runner advice. Of course, there's tons of it to be found online and in run shops. Hell, there's even plenty to find here on my blog.
But sometimes a beginning runner can feel overwhelmed with it all, or get bogged down in the details. Listen: Running is hard. It's hard when you start and it's hard when you've been doing it for a year. But for all intents and purposes, if you're just starting out, it doesn't need to be very complicated. But you do need to know just a few very important things:

10 Things Every New Runner Should Know
  1. You don't need to stop, you need to slow down.
  2. You'll be able to breathe when you slow down.
  3. You are not the only new runner who's ever felt this way. Consider this your initiation into the club. Every runner has hurt as badly as you do right now. It doesn't mean you can't do it.
  4. It will get easier the more you do it. Running is the only thing that will make you a better runner.
  5. If you value your body at all, stretch pre- and post-run and listen to what your body says to you.
  6. There is a significant difference between effort and pain. Learn your real physical boundaries. (Hint: They number far fewer than you think.)
  7. If you control your breathing, you're in control.
  8. You don't have to love it 100% of the time. But if you hate it more than you love it, maybe you should try cycling instead. Or swimming. (Or triathlon?)
  9. Find what motivates you and stick to it. Is it a race? Is it the idea of a certain mile mark? (Mine was 1 mile. Then 3.1 (5k). Then 5 miles. Then 10. You get the picture...) Is it a feeling? Find it—no one else can find it for you—and chase it.
  10. Stop the internal battle you're having about calling yourself a runner. Do you run? Good news: You're a runner. Yes, even if you take walk breaks. You don't have to wear head-to-toe Nike DriFit or own a stack of race bibs and a pile of medals to be a runner. You just have to run to be a runner.
Did I miss anything? Runner friends, what would you add to this list?

And don't forget to link up with Tracy and me tomorrow for Training for Tuesday! How's your progress going so far in 2015? We can't wait to hear what you're working toward or what goals you're checking off your list. (Find out more here if you're joining this party for the first time!)


  1. yes to all of this! people need to free themselves from labels. if you run, you're a runner. if you lift, you're a lifter. if you muay thai, you're a fighter. you don't need to "prove" yourself to anyone BUT YOURSELF.

  2. Oh yay! I had remembered Training for Tuesday but hadn't written anything. Excited! Also, runners should know the importance of good shoes, because without them the entire experience becomes a lot worse.

    When I used to be a 100 mile a month runner, the important thing to me was to not have any rules other than the mileage. I did all my miles outside rain or shine, so for me it was a way to learn to make the best out of whatever came my way and enjoy the gifts of a sunny day (and sometimes the rainiest days when I needed the spiritual cleanse).

    Hope you had an amazing birthday!!!

  3. I love this post and SO needed it. I still hesitate to call myself a runner! Even after doing 2 half-marathons! I'm always struggled with feeling like until I was "fast" I wasn't really a runner... but you're right. I'm out there moving my feet and doing the miles- that makes me a runner! I do think I want to go back to just working on my 5k time, bc I don't feel like I LOVE long distance. There are plenty of other ways to stay fit that I enjoy way more than 13.1 miles ;)

  4. hey new training for tuesday button thingy!
    love this list. you worded it better and made it so much shorter than my list a couple months ago, haha.
    though this is like the best advice ever: Running is the only thing that will make you a better runner. - can be applied to everything in life really.

  5. This made me feel like crying (the good kind of course). So, so, so true. Seriously everything on that list is something I want to shout from the rooftops to new runners. "Running is the only thing that will make you a better runner." So simple, so true! The only reason I got decent at running is because I kept doing it. Over and over and over again. And it took a long time before that work started to seriously pay off, but it's one of those things that doesn't feel like you're making a big change day-to-day, but then one day you look back and you're so far from where you've started. Incredible.
    Yes for the millionth time about doing something else if you don't love it. My friend just started running last week, a couple miles a day, and challenged me on Nikeplus. So we were talking about running and I don't remember what I said exactly but he responded, "So wait, you don't run to stay in shape....? You just do it because you like it?!" Seriously his mind = blown. But yeah, people should really know that if you added up all the moments when I truly love running, it's like 10%, maybe. And the like-it moments might add another chunk but yeah, nowhere near close to 100% of the time! Pushing through the suckiness is part of what makes it great.
    Happy race anniversary!!!

  6. I need to share this with my husband. He enjoys running but gets frustrated.

    Happy runiversary!

  7. Happy race anniversary! And happy birthday too! I hope it was fabulous!

    I needed to hear that everyone struggles when they first start because damn do I struggle some mornings! You have been nothing but super inspirational and helpful during my journey of running. I am such a newbie still but it helps to have a community of people doing it and loving it!

  8. love the advice! I have never consider myself a runner or even a lover of running but I do want to do a triathlon at some point which means I need to get over my mental block against running eventually (gritted teeth emoji feelings) (sorry if this duplicates, I was having trouble posting the comment)

  9. I fight the runner label because I'm ridiculous. I'm afraid to embrace the runner culture and start being a weirdo and wearing tight pants that show every little bubble in my ass cheek and wearing that super nerdy belt (own one) and trying out different gels or magic jellybeans and buying expensive shoes and special wicking clothing... and then what if I love it and keep doing it.. and I end up with an addiction to medals and have to train for goals like the Glass Slipper Challenge at Disney World... then I can't be lazy and what if it's so cool? Lol.
    I just recently learned that SLOW down is better than walking. Now if I could get better at stretching!

  10. Definitely saving this to come back to when I feel discouraged - these are great tips & reminders!

  11. I love these! Races don't keep me motivated, numbers do - not the scale - the new accomplishments like a mile further or extra minutes without feeling like I NEEEEED to stop before death occurs haha. I love it and though I sometimes wish I could street run more or rest more I still do it! Love this post. Also I agree until I found running (and now yoga) I hated everything - zumba, aerobics, spin - they never got me. Find what you love to do. Best advice :)

  12. This post came at literally the most perfect time! I had the worst cramp while (attempting) to run today and I thought I was dying (it was really bad!) and had to walk practically the ENTIRE time, I was so frustrated :( But this was such a good reminder that it won't always be easy!

  13. I seriously loved reading this list! My goal is to find a good pace that I can keep up for at least a mile. Probably one step over a walk and under a jog ha ha :D I definitely learned my lesson at the 5k I did!

  14. Great advice!! I like the first one and the last 2 the best and I would absolutely give that advice to someone new to running. I also would say to document your training on a blog or in a journal, something you have to look back on and be proud of what you've accomplished but also to remind yourself just how far you've really come!


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