At the beginning of the summer, Memorial Day to be exact, I decided to start a little run streak. You might remember my post back in July about this little run streak. At the time I was on day 50.
Today I am celebrating six months of running every single day! What the what? I don’t even know how this happened. This was surely not in the plans way back on Memorial Day. I didn’t even know then that streak running was a thing, now I’ve learned of crazy people who have run streaks of over 40 years. People have been running every day for longer than I’ve been alive. This is craziness.
(By the way, streak running is what it’s called when you run every day, it has nothing to do with running naked, which might be a thing, but certainly not something I’ve been doing. There has been some confusion, so I figured I should clear that up pretty early. I always run in clothing, even when it’s 100 degrees out.)
Running every day has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. That is crazy talk to everyone who hasn’t tried a run streak themselves, I know. If I were you, I wouldn’t believe me either. You probably think that I am some abnormal human who enjoys pain, suffering, and misery. But oh, how I wish I could share this amazing-ness with everyone.
Somewhere along the way in the last 6 months, I’ve decided that I can actually call myself a runner. I’m certainly not the fastest runner out there. I don’t have any sponsors (I can only dream). I’ve never won first place at a race, not even a first place in my age group. But I think I’ve learned a thing or two in the last six months and finally have the confidence to say I’m most definitely a runner.
As a now reasonably experienced runner, who can proudly say that I love running, and I love how running has changed my life, I feel like I should spread the running love and help more people discover the awesomeness of running. If you are new to the idea of running, want to start running, or want to give running another chance, here are a few running tips that I’ve learned over the last 6 months of running every single day.
1. You don’t need fancy clothes.
You will want all the fancy clothes. You will drool when you walk into the workout sections of stores. The advertisements you see online will all be for running and workout apparel. But I’ll let you in on a secret, you don’t actually need the latest and greatest. People have been running since the beginning of time, long before wicking, compression, tech, thumb holes and all the other amazing things they put on activewear now.
In the past 6 months, when life threw the unexpected at me, I’ve had to improvise. I’ve gone on several runs with a regular bra instead of a sports bra. Uncomfortable, and probably unsightly, but I survived (and was thankful to only run a mile). I’ve run in borrowed clothes that were too big for me and old-fashioned, all cotton sweatpants that are leftovers from my days in high school. You simply need to put on clothes, get out, and start running. You’ll be fine. If you do want to pick up a few reasonably priced essentials, I love the offerings and prices at Target and TJ Maxx.
2. You need new(ish), but not expensive shoes.
You do need a good, supportive shoe. Otherwise, your knees, calves, shins, and other body parts will cry. Your shoes will be one of your best protections against injury when running, so make sure you have a good pair. But by good, I most certainly do not mean you need to drop $200 at the running store. If your budget allows this, by all means, head to the store. You won’t regret it. Getting a proper fit and a perfect running shoe is a really good idea.
But I’ll let you in on a secret, you can buy decent running shoes at all kinds of stores and online. You can even buy decent running shoes for less than $100. The shoes I’m currently sporting were purchased at Shoe Carnival where they regularly have Buy One Get One 50% off sales. I tried on every running shoe in the store and ran up and down the aisles to find the ones that fit the best and then bought them for a whopping $65. I then got my son a new pair of super cheap 50% off shoes while I was at it. Get some new shoes, but don’t break the bank.
3. Don’t stretch before you go out.
What? I know. Your high school gym teacher was wrong. Static stretching, where you hold a stretch for several seconds at a time, is actually one of the worst things you can do before heading out on a run. Research has shown that exercising on freshly stretched and “loosened” muscles makes them less efficient, less powerful, and more prone to injury. You want none of that when running.
A proper warmup involves actually using the muscles you are about to work, get them moving, and get the blood flowing before you head out the door. Some ideas include arm circles, trunk rotations and side bends, high knees, butt kicks, side to side leg swings, and some calf raises. Basically, you want to warm up all the major muscles groups you’ll be working on your run.
And if you like being flexible and stretching, that’s perfectly fine. Just save your stretching routine until after you go for your run. It will feel amazing then.
4. It’s okay to walk.
Hardcore runners (my friends) never walk, but I take walking breaks all the time. My rule for the streak is that I run my first mile without stopping, but then I allow myself to take a short walk break every half mile, if I want to. Sometimes I walk every half mile, and some days I run all the way through. It varies a lot.
I tried to force myself to stop taking my walk breaks for a while. I don’t “need” them anymore, it’s just a mental thing. My brain says, “I’m tired, I want to walk”, but I know that my body can survive my runs just fine without a walking break. What I discovered though, was that I really enjoy my walking breaks. Those are the times I slow down and notice the beautiful fall colors, I get a chance to smile and wave at my neighbors, and I really begin to notice and appreciate the world around me. This has been one of my favorite parts of my run streak. Some days are for hardcore training and pushing myself to get stronger, but some days, I run, and walk, simply to enjoy the experience. Don’t be afraid to slow down and take it all in.
5. Don’t start running to lose weight.
I actually strongly believe that losing weight by itself should never be one of your main goals and motivators for anything in life. I think it’s a pretty crappy and depressing reason to do anything and it makes you start to despise yourself. But that is a post for another day.
Here’s a secret I don’t share with most people. My baby is 3 years old and I’m still not down to my “pre-pregnancy” weight. I’ve run 4 half marathons since his birth, I’ve run every day for 6 months, and I drink a fresh green smoothie almost every single day, and I still am not as “skinny” as I used to be. I’m 100% okay with that because I don’t measure my value, my worth, my health, or my success by the number on the scale. You shouldn’t either.
I run because it gives me energy, makes me happier and calmer, it feels good, it teaches me self-discipline, it’s good therapy, it’s fun, it gives me endurance and strength, it teaches me that I can do awesome and hard things, and so much more. I do not run to lose weight. That’s a terrible reason to start running. (Side note – yes, my pant size has gone down and I look more “slim” as a result of my running, but my weight has stayed almost the same. Yet another reason to stop worrying about how much you weigh. Just choose to live healthy instead.)
6. Find support.
I made the decision to start this run streak on my own. And I wasn’t sure I was going to tell anyone right away. But I’m glad I did. I have one friend who started her streak the same day I did. And at one point I had 7 other people who were running every day with me! My dad passed away unexpectedly on day 103. I ran that day and many of the days that followed because I knew that my 7 other friends were running with me. I didn’t want to let them down. Running was really good for me during that time, but it still took a lot of effort to lace up my shoes and get out there every day.
Make sure you surround yourself with friends and family who support you. My husband always makes sure that I get my run in. People are constantly asking me what day I’m on and cheering on my progress. I don’t just do this for me. I know that my streak has inspired and supported many other people on their own journey. And I have a whole team of cheerleaders helping me keep going.
7. You get better with practice.
The first race I ever ran I had an average pace of 14 minutes and 47 seconds per mile. I was painfully slow when I first started running. And I needed a whole lot of walking breaks to survive. The other day I ran a mile in 7 minutes and 58 seconds. I’ve seen massive improvements in my speed, my endurance, and my enjoyment of running. Don’t give up after your first attempt. You will get better (and find it more enjoyable) the more you do it.
8. Dress for 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature outside.
If it’s 60 degrees outside, you need to dress as if you were going to hang out outside on an 80 degree day. If it’s 10 degrees out, you should dress for 30 degrees. It the actual temperature is in the 40’s or below, you should also consider covering your ears and wearing gloves. If you are slightly chilled for your first half mile, you’re probably dressed just right. You don’t want to be cold, but overheating isn’t very fun either.
9. Always be prepared.
One day I had to borrow my moms walking shoes and her capri pants that were two sizes too big for me (praise the Lord for drawstrings!) to go for my run because I had left home in a hurry and didn’t realize I’d be gone all day. Some days you just have to make it work, but I’ve also learned to think ahead and pack a bag of running clothes anytime I know I’ll have a busy day. I’d much rather sneak in a quick mile at my in-laws’ house than have to go out at 11:30 at night to run a lap around my neighborhood.
Maybe you don’t have any plans to start a “hardcore” running streak. But you should still plan ahead and consider what obstacles are going to try to mess with your success. We can all make excuses for why we didn’t get something done, and they are usually very valid excuses that most people would agree with. But at the end of the day, most of the time, you could have found a way. Plan ahead, prepare ahead, and watch your excuses fade away.
10. If you really want it, you can do it.
You can do just about anything. Sure, you may not be able to fly to visit Pluto in a rocket ship. But you can achieve any (rational) goal you set your mind to. If you want something bad enough, you can find a way. It starts with a simple, yet likely scary decision to just do it.
Your mind will tell you “no”. Hard days will come up and leave you discouraged and frustrated. You’ll be tired, sad, cold, hungry, angry, confused, frustrated, disappointed, and more. Do it anyways. That, my friends, is how success is reached.
Use these running tips to get started.
I think everyone who is able-bodied should give running a chance. Just try it, you never know how much it could change your life.Hopefully, these running tips can help you feel confident enough to lace up your shoes and head out the door.
And if you are really intrigued by the concept of a Run Streak, you’re in luck. My original run streak started with the Runner’s World Summer Run Streak that lasted from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I just never stopped. The Winter RW Run Streak starts this week! The winter streak goes from Thanksgiving day to New Year’s day (37 days total). Can you commit to running at least one mile a day every day during the holidays? It will be hard but just think of all the amazing benefits you will receive.
I would love to cheer you on. If you decide to start your own run streak, or if you decide to pursue a different challenge to better health this holiday season, leave me a comment and I’ll be the first member of your support team.