I've recently come across a lot of blog posts and articles with titles like "10 Things I wish I knew when I was 20" or "Things I'd tell my 25-year-old self." Usually, these are full of advice and situations that I've identified with more than once as a twenty-five-year old woman.
I've often thought about what I'd want to tell my 20-year-old self about life, and realized that was right around the time when I started running fairly regularly. So I decided to compile my own list of advice, but instead of repeating the trite clichés I've read time and time again, I wrote down my top 10 pieces of wisdom I would give myself as a brand new runner.
*Disclaimer: All advice strictly based on my personal and sometimes unfortunate experiences as a newbie runner.
1. Buy real running shoes at a real running store.
Sure, those custom, powder blue Nike Shox look pretty cool, but they are not meant for running. So sorry to disappoint. Go to a local running store and get fitted for some real running shoes. STAT.
2. Eat real food.
You can only get by on a super high-fiber, high-protein, Splenda infused, zero fat, low calorie diet for so long. Your body needs honest-to-goodness fat and carbs to perform at its highest potential. It needs a lot of this real food if you want to run marathons some day. So eat a cheeseburger and french fries if the craving strikes, but eat fruits and vegetables much more often.
3. Stop comparing yourself to other runners.
You will only become disappointed or smug. These are not good looks.
4. Buy non-cotton, sweat-wicking running clothes.
I should write this one down twice. Your runs are a lot more enjoyable when old, sweaty, t-shirts aren't sticking to you the whole time. (Ahem, Oiselle is a good place to start)
5. Stop drinking so much. Especially the day before a race.
You will only be disappointed in yourself when you wake up hungover on the morning you should be running 15 miles. Waking up bright and early on a Saturday is surprisingly not the worst thing in the world.
(Still a work in progress. I've got the race part down, but still working on the weekend behavior...)
6. Running is important, but family and friends are more important.
Don't let relationships suffer because of your training. If you need to run early in the morning to make it out to dinner with your best friends later, do it. On the flip side, make running your priority over non-essential social events. Your work acquaintance will forgive you for not making it to happy hour.
7. It's okay to walk the hills. Sometimes.
Legitimate ultrarunners do it all the time. I promise, its okay.
8. You don't have to eat gels on long runs.
There are tons of other fueling options. Organic Honey Stinger waffles and chews are a good place to start. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will also get you far. Someday, potatoes dipped in salt with a coke to wash it down will be the best thing you ever tasted on a run.
9. Leave your gadgets at home.
Unplugging from the world is one of the best gifts running will give you. Turn off your brain for awhile and you'll be amazed at the difference it will make in your life.
10. Be confident in your body and its abilities.
You are much stronger than you think. Someday, the legs you once criticized for being too thick will carry you over 31 miles at one time. Be thankful and be proud of your body; leave shame and self-doubt at your doorstep. There is no room for insecurity in this sport.