All the things you learn as a new runner
Happy National Running Day! In honor of the holiday, we’re taking a look at all the things you learn when you first start running.
A few weeks ago, as I sat on the couch with my partner for the umpteenth afternoon in a row, we looked at each other and realized it was time to start exercising more. As a certified couch potato, I’ve never been great about getting up and exercising. Sure, I dive into yoga ever few years and I walk everywhere, but that’s about the extent of my dedication. But as I inch closer to my late 20s, it’s becoming clear that my body does not appreciate my often sedentary lifestyle. And so, we started running.
As someone who had never run (unless I was being chased with a squirt gun or water balloon), the learning curve was pretty steep. These are the things I learned, some of them the hard way, in my first few weeks of running.
Stretching really is a thing
My partner used to run regularly, and so when we got ready for our first run through the neighborhood, he started stretching. I kind of stood there feeling awkward, halfheartedly touching my toes and feeling like a weirdo. It took exactly one mile of light jogging to see why stretching is always gets so much emphasis. My knees, you guys! I could barely feel my calves they were so tight! Turns out stretching wasn’t just hype.
Staying hydrated is also a thing
Yes, when we got back I downed some water. And I felt totally fine that afternoon. But the next morning, I had a headache that left me sprawled on the couch for most of the day. The culprit: Dehydration. And it wasn’t just my head that was pounding — my thighs hurt so badly I could barely walk down stairs. The fact that I didn’t throw in the towel on running at that moment is nothing short of a miracle.
Powering through the pain helps (mostly)
After I recovered from my headache/self-pity, I mustered the nerve to go running again. My legs were so sore there are no words for it (besides things like “Ouch” and “Why is this happening to me?”) but I managed a short jog. And I did it again the next day. And the day after that, my thighs felt fine. I didn’t ache afterwards and I could walk up stairs again without looking like I was about to topple over. If your pain is severe, definitely seek a professional opinion, but don’t let some aching muscles scare you!
Even a little running is something to be proud of
Don’t look for me in a marathon any time soon. I have a little circuit that I run/walk in the morning to get myself pepped up for the day, pushing myself a little here and a little there to see what I can handle. And that’s okay. I’m always proud of myself for hitting the end of the block rather than walking the second half, or running all the way around the park rather than taking breaks.
Because running is not easy
I fully admit that I assumed it would be an easier option than going to a gym or trying to get myself hyped up about going back to the yoga class I bailed on a few months back. As it turns out, there’s nothing easy about running. Even at a leisurely pace, the amount of effort that goes into sustaining that pace will wear you out.
The runner’s high is real
Aching limbs and messy hair aside, running leaves me feeling accomplished and good. Not only does it give me the satisfaction of knowing I did something good for my body, but it also let’s me challenge myself and measure my progress. I may not be the best runner or the most dedicated, but I enjoy it, and that feels like enough for right now.