10 things I've learned during my first year of running

Every time I say anything about running, I think about Forrest Gump. 



He's my inspiration. Talk about some ENDURANCE. Good gracious.

Any hoo, I thought I would share some of the tips and tricks (not trips...although I have tripped a lot during my running career) I have learned since I started running about a year ago. 

These are my own opinions, they may not be yours. And guess what...that's ok.

Here's a list of the races I've done:
December, 2012 (5K)
March, 2013 (15K) 
April, 2013 (Half marathon)
July, 2013 (10K)
September, 2013 (Half marathon)
November, 2013 (10K)
February, 2014 (Half marathon)
**Upcoming** April, 2014 (Half marathon)









I went from doing a 5K to deciding I wanted to do a half. 

Go Big or Go Home I say.

So, here's what I've learned:

1) 5K runs are not my thing because during the first three miles of any run, I want to pluck someones eyes out. I only feel slightly human again at about mile four. 5K's are great for people who don't want to do long distance runs. If you are a long distance runner, you will probably not like them. You feel like you're just getting started when in fact you're almost done.

2) THE CORRECT SHOES ARE IMPORTANT. I know they're expensive. I know it stinks to shell out $100 for shoes. But, I'm here to tell you especially after dealing with hip flexor and knee issues...do not skimp on the shoes. You will thank me later. I promise.

3) The people who told me to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth apparently wanted to come scoop me off the ground when I fainted from lack of oxygen to the brain. Moral of the story: find what works best for you. Sometimes chewing gum helps regulate breathing. Sometimes singing to your music helps. Sometimes you just have to concentrate on not hyperventilating. The more you run, the more you will find a happy place.

4) Walking will not send anyone to naughty runner's jail. Walking is not a sin. At least you're getting exercise. It doesn't matter if your pace is 15 minutes or 8 minutes. Don't let your pace discourage you. Just keep on moving.

5) I need music or I will die. You may or may not feel the same way. I ran one half without music and it was miserable. 

6) Being hydrated before and after the run is very important. When I ran my 15K, I ended up sick (throwing up sick) later in the day because I wasn't hydrated enough. It's not something to mess around with.

7) Just like being hydrated, stretching is also very important before and after. Some of my hip flexor problems were from not stretching. I'm telling you, stretching is so much more enjoyable than the pain that comes from an injury caused partly from lack of stretching.

8) Cross train, cross train, cross train. Swim, spin, lift weights, core workouts. Cross training days are just as important as rest days. You will work different muscles; and exercises that work the core will especially improve your running. 

9) When running a race that begins early in the morning and is at least an hour away, stay in a hotel room the night before. My very first half marathon was an hour away. My friend who was running with me and I decided we would just drive up the day of so that we could save money. We had to get up at 3:30 in the morning and then fight traffic. All that was even before we had to run 13.1 miles. The stress of getting there was not worth saving the money. Really.

10) Be open to trying new things (except right before a race...). I learn something new all the time. And, I know there's still much for me to learn. I absolutely love that this is my journey. I'm not competing with anyone else but myself. 

There you have it. Now, it's your turn to tell me what you've learned!