Blogher says that May is National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). I’m not a “mommy blogger” but I’ thought I would (sort of) play along. They have a theme for the month: Comfort. Yeah, I’m not going to talk about sleeping with stuffed animals. Instead, let’s talk about avoiding pain! That’s the ultimate comfort, right? I’ve had a few people ask for some tips on how to start running without dying. There are a ton of books, websites, blogs, etc. but here are some things that I have learned through trial and error.
For new runners, I cannot stress enough to start slooow. I mean, really slow. Think “arthritic sloth“. Before I even began to attempt to run, I first walked every day. I would walk for 30 minutes at lunch, focusing on moving as quickly as I could. Once I could comfortably keep a decent pace, I moved on to a Couch to 5K program. I really liked the Run 5K app but there are a ton out there. I then focused on the time, not the distance, and I repeated several weeks until I felt like I made a solid effort. Week 6 was a bear. The key is/was consistency. I wouldn’t let myself skip runs, at all, during the program. My goal was to slowly build a solid base.
Protecting Your Feet
During my C25K plan, I wore a pair of New Balance shoes that I bought at Amazon. They were okay but I realized, after running my first 10K, I needed better shoes! My next pair were purchased at a specialty running store. Please get a professional fit! Once you find the brand and style that is best for you, then you can shop for deals online but that initial fit is priceless. Also, look for a store with a liberal return policy so you can bring the shoes back if they turn out to be not-quite-right. If they are a little more stringent on returning worn goods, try to take your new kicks out on the treadmill before hitting the road, just in case. A good store should analyze your wear pattern on your shoes and check your gate but it is possible to still get a pair that isn’t optimal.
Be prepared to go up a size from your street shoes! Yes, I now wear a size 11 running shoe but my toes have plenty of room to move. If you are losing toenails for half marathon training or less, your shoes are probably too tight and you need a roomier toe box. Be careful with the minimalist shoes, especially if you are a heavier runner. I wear a pair for walking to help build foot and ankle strength but I don’t run in them.
Do not wear cotton socks! They will just soak up the sweat and keep it next to your skin for some dandy blisters. I love to wear wool socks. They are cushy, warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and wick nicely.
Do use Body Glide! Put it anywhere on your feet where you might blister, including between your toes and tops of your feet. They have Body Glide for Women but it is less product for more money with a cute pink label. Forget that! Just get a tube of the regular. They also make Body Glide powder. I have not yet tried it but I will this summer. I also use Body Glide at other chafe points (bra straps, etc.) for runs over 10 miles.
Protecting the Rest
Do cross train. A strong core is necessary, especially for hill work. Get a foam roller or two. I have a big one at home and a smaller one at my office so I can roll tight spots whenever I want. There is a whole list of PT type exercises you can do with tennis balls, wiffle balls, golf balls, etc.
Find a good sports chiropractor and go in for regular adjustments. My last chiro was a triathlete and was fabulous! He really helped when I threw my back out of alignment (due to an old injury, not running). Unfortunately, he moved and the new guy plays hockey. It’s good that he’s athletic but … it’s not the same. Needless to say, I’m looking for someone else. Also consider a sports massage. I think I’m going to schedule a few during my training this summer but I have some mental issues to over come first.
Look at your diet. Your body is only as good as the fuel you give it. I, personally, have found it best to eliminate inflammatory foods – this means I now follow a pretty strict paleo diet. It has worked well for me but your mileage may vary.
What are some tips you would give to a new runner? How do you avoid pain?
Tomorrow: It’s All In Your Head