10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running

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1. Speed Is Relative 

What’s super speedy for me might be crazy slow for you. Or what might be an easy pace for me, could feel difficult to you. And that’s ok! Speed, much like many things in life, is relative. We’re all different people with different bodies experiencing different things on this crazy adventure that is life!

I’m a super slow runner. That’s a fact. It’s probably safe to say that a good majority of runners out there are faster than me. And really up until recently that kinda used to bother me. I used to feel like a fraud calling myself a runner because there are people out there that can run at a 7 minute per mile pace and call it easy, while I struggle to hit paces around 12 minutes per mile.

Then somewhere along the line I heard the phrase “speed is relative” and something just clicked into place for me. I realized that it really doesn’t matter how fast or slow I am, as long as I’m trying my hardest and putting in the work necessary to work towards my goals. At the end of the day, I think that’s more important than hitting specific paces/times.

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2. It’s Ok To Walk

When I first started running I was under the impression that didn’t count unless you ran the whole time. If you had to walk then you weren’t a “real” runner. Oh boy how wrong I was! Once I learned about the run/walk/run method and how many people who actually implemented it, my life pretty much changed. I was able to run farther and faster (yes, I’m still a slow runner, but remember, speed is relative 😉 ) when I took walking breaks. Sometimes those breaks happen for about a minute after each mile, sometimes on bad days I walk up hills, sometimes I do more structured intervals of 90 seconds of running 30 seconds of walking, and sometimes I don’t walk at all. But just knowing that I can take a walk break if I need to catch my breath, change up my rhythm a little bit, take a sip of water, eat a little something, walk up a hill, or just need to mentally collect myself, and still be considered a runner and the activity that I’m doing is still running, has made a huge difference in my running life. 🙂

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3. Warming Up And Cooling Down Is Important

Back in the day (2013 being this particular time period haha) I didn’t really see much point in warming up or cooling down. I thought that could all be done while on the run. And I mean, it can, I’m just not very good at doing it haha. Plus I’ve found that I feel sooo much better during and a few hours after my runs if I take the time to warm up and cool down. I even do a little warming up and cooling down if the workout I’m doing involves spending some time running to warm up or cool down.

I don’t have a particular routine or anything for warming up. Most of the time I just pace around my house in the morning, while I brush my teeth and get dressed for my run. That gets my blood flowing and gets my muscles warm enough to feel comfortable during the beginning of my run. Sometimes I’ll also do a few skipping drills, foot drills, hop on the stationary bike for a few minutes, and on a very rare occasion I’ll do some dynamic stretching. And for my cool down I usually just do a little bit of walking. I try to make a point of finishing all of my runs a few blocks away from my house and then just walk home. Especially in the summer when I’m more likely to just collapse onto my porch without any though of letting my heart rate having a chance to slow down before I call it a day. I’ll also do some stretching and foam rolling after a lot of my runs too. But I think the most important thing is to just find something that you wont mind doing on a regular basis. Your body will thank you.

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4. Running In “Bad” Weather Makes You A Badass

Nowadays I like to consider myself an “all-weather runner”. I’ve run in rain, ice, snow, hail, thunderstorms, extreme cold, heat, humidity, etc. You name it, there’s a good chance I’ve run in it (although I’ll be the first to admit that some of the weather conditions I’ve found myself running in aren’t safe and I probably shouldn’t have been out in them. But what can I say, a little bit of danger is fun! 😉 ). That wasn’t always the case though. Back when I still lived in an apartment I had access to a treadmill thanks to my apartment complex’s fitness center. So on days when the weather wasn’t ideal (and for me that usually means super hot/humid weather) I could just make my way to the fitness center, hop on a treadmill, and run in a little bit more comfortable conditions. Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when I miss the convenience of having a treadmill around. Back then I didn’t have to worry about waiting for thunderstorms to pass, icy roads, or other things that tend to make running outside dangerous. But that also made me a less physically and mentally tough person.

It’s been almost 3 years now since I’ve had access to a treadmill and I know for a fact that’s made me a better runner. Braving the heat and humidity is hard for me to do, but I know I’m not only stronger physically for it, but mentally too! I’ve also learned that running in the rain is a lot of fun, and while not exactly safe, slipping and sliding on icy roads and trying to outrun thunderstorms can be an absolute blast! Again though, that’s not safe, there is a good possibility that you can get hurt doing things like that, and I’m definitely not going to recommend or encourage anyone to do anything that could potentially get you hurt.

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5. Runner’s Are Awesome

Seriously! In general, runners are some of the nicest, most encouraging, and accepting people I’ve ever met. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run, your age, race, gender, body type, how far you can run, what gear you have, or anything. As long as you’re a runner and are out there putting in the effort, you’ll be accepted and welcomed by most other runners. I can’t think of any other sport that creates that kind of bond and between complete strangers, or even competitors.

I think if you’ve ever toed the starting line of a race, participated in a run club, or even just run on a busy trail, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Plus I think this quote sums that all up quite nicely. 🙂

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6. Signing Up For A Race Can Be intimidating, But It’s Worth It

At least it was for me. I struggled with calling myself a runner for a while. I’m a very slow runner, until I started training for my first half marathon I never ran very far, at that time 5 miles was a pretty big stretch for me. I guess I was just afraid that I wouldn’t fit in or that I would end up humiliating myself, but now I know that will probably never happen (see point #5 😉 ).

I started running in the fall of 2013. I never even considered signing up for a local 5k or anything until 2015. Then I signed up for my first half marathon. Yup. My first race ever was a half marathon. That’s definitely not the recommended course of action for most runners, but that kinda brings me to point #7;

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7. Setting Crazy Goals Is A Good Idea

How does that quote go? “I never knew I could run a mile until I did”, or something like that? Well I never knew I could run a half marathon until I did.

Which is part of the reason why I set the crazy goal of running a half marathon as my first ever race. I knew I could run a 5k. I did that almost every single day. But a half marathon training plan took me into some very unknown territories and I didn’t know if it was something that I would be able to do. Until I did. Setting a crazy goal like that forced me outside of my comfort zone, made me work incredibly hard, and even question my sanity at times, but in the end I did it! I set out to do something crazy and became a half marathoner. Now I know 13.1 miles is a distance that I can cover! So I guess now my next crazy goal should be taking on a full marathon, right? Haha well, it’ll happen eventually. 😉

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8. Hats Are Much More Functional Headbands

Ok but seriously, they really are! When I first started running I never considered wearing a hat. I just pulled my hair back with a hair tie and headband. But I have really thick hair and that never really kept it out of my face. Something that really annoyed me. Then one hot summer I started wearing a hat to keep the sun off of my face and I realized that I should have been doing just that from the very beginning. First off, a hat keeps my hair out of my face better than any headband ever has. Plus you can use it to keep the sun, rain, snow, dust, or whatever out of your eyes. And in the summer you can put some water or ice in it to help cool you off a bit. You can’t do that with a headband haha.

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9. Your Running Shoes Should Be A Bigger Size Than Your Every Day Shoes

I learned this the hard way and ended up losing two toenails because of it. You’re feet swell when you run, so it’s best to go up half a size or even a full size for your running shoes. Now that I know and practice that, my toes are much happier.

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10. Running Is Hard, But That’s What Makes It Great 

Some people will tell you that running will get easier with time. And maybe that is true for some people. But for me, running has never gotten easier. It’s still just as hard as the day I first lace up a pair of tennis shoes and hit the treadmill in my old apartment complex’s fitness center. Sure I can go a lot farther now than I could then, but I don’t think that means running has gotten easier. Granted I have really good days where I think running is just about the most fun thing ever, and on a very rare occasion it’ll even feel effortless. But a good majority of the time it doesn’t feel that way for me. A lot of time I struggle to finish workouts and sometimes I even hate it. But honestly I think that’s one of the things that makes running so great. It is hard and it gives us stuff to work towards and to overcome, and in doing so we learn and grow as runners and as people in general. Plus I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think being able to say “yeah, I felt like shit today so I only ran 5 miles” wasn’t pretty cool. I mean, there are plenty of people out there who will never be able to run 5 (or 4, or 3, or 2, you get my point) miles in their entire lives, but you got out there and got it done, even though it was hard as hell and you wanted to quit. Finishing a run on days like that is a pretty awesome feeling.

Running is hard. No matter if you’re a complete beginner, a seasoned veteran, or somewhere in between. There will always be days when it just plain sucks. But that’s what makes it so great.

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14 thoughts on “10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running

  1. runeatralph

    That’s a sweet looking pair of Nike Frees (I think). Number 1 is my favorite thing about running. Whether you’re an elite or in the back of the pack, the struggle can be pretty similar. We all share in that.

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    1. Ashley Dailey Post author

      They are indeed Nike frees!! Thanks! Haha I’m still running in then, although they are no where near as pretty as they were the day I got them.😉 Totally agree!! It’s so cool to think that no matter your pace, or wether your a sponsored professional athlete, or just a weekend warrior, we all run the same course and the same distance. Not many other sports are like that. 😄

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  2. Ari Scott

    Love this post. So funny, I was going to write a whole post myself about “setting crazy goals.” I still might and I’ll link back to you! 🙂 I love setting crazy goals. It just makes you better – even if you don’t meet them, you come closer than you would if you didn’t!

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  3. AJ

    Great list! I’ve always had a hard time with the fact that I’m slow, but I’m getting better about it. I also learned this year that walking is okay.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Ashley Dailey Post author

      Thanks!! It’s definitely something that’s hard to be ok with, especially when your constantly seeing sooo many people who can bust out 8 minute miles like it’s nothing. But once you learn to stop comparing where you are to where someone else is (which is super crazy hard to do) it gets better. 🙂 My life got so much better when I learned that walking is ok lol.

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  4. Rafia

    These were some helpful tips! I’m still struggling with calling myself a runner, because running a 5k is still really tough for me and I’m also super slow. I can’t imagine how I’m going to improve at my current vantage point, and yet I don’t want to give up. I also feel like if I take walking breaks, it’s not a real run. But then again, I’ve only started running like two months ago, so I need to keep that in perspective. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Ashley Dailey Post author

      I’m glad you liked them!! I’ve been where you are and know exactly how you feel! Hell, sometimes I still feel like I shouldn’t still be so freaking slow after doing this crazy running thing for almost 5 years and sometimes waking kinda feels like cheating, but at the end of the day, as long as you’re out there putting in the work and trying your hardest, that’s all that really matters. I also like to remember my favorite BART Yasso quote on days when I feel like a less than runner. “I’ll often hear someone say, ‘I’m not a real runner’. We are all runners – some just run faster than others. I’ve never met a fake runner.”

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  5. thisvetruns

    Really liked this, really honest. It’s crazy how often the phrase ‘real runner’ pops up isn’t it.. and often in the context of people not feeling like one initially and then realising it doesn’t exist!

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