Resolutionary War: Running Must-Haves

So, it's January, and if you're like me, you made a few new years resolutions.  I make them every year, both for home and for me personally.  One of my resolutions this year is to run faster!  I have posted a bunch on the blog about my love of running (here and here and here and here and here). I have had a few people ask me about running and what I recommend to get started.  I am happy to share my tips, but remind you that I am not a professional and certainly not a doctor, so before you begin any running or other exercise program, please speak to a doctor first, listen to your body, know your limits.  I am not an expert:  this is just my compilation of tips for what works for me.  Disclaimer complete.  Disclaimer will be repeated at the end of this post.

Running, in my humble opinion, is one of the best and fastest ways to get in shape and lose weight.  It is also inexpensive.  You do not have to buy any equipment other than sneakers and running clothes - sure other things are helpful, but you do not really "need" them.  Running is both individual and social: you can run solo and lose yourself in your thoughts or music.  You can run with a friend and chat for miles.  You can run with a running club/group and feel the energy of a crowd.  Races, while competitive, are actually just races against yourself and your best time.  You can never truly "master" running: you can always beat your fastest time. That is why I love it so - there is always a challenge. 

So with that out of the way, here are my tips for running must-haves.  You'll see they run the gamut (pun totally not intended but it's staying here)!  

1.  Call Yourself a Runner.

First and foremost, if you are doing anything faster than a walk, even if it is barely faster than a walk, you are running. You are not jogging.  Joggers look like this:

Unless you are wearing those clothes and running in the 1970s, you are not jogging; you are running.  Calling yourself a "runner" is a big step, but an important one.  "Runner" seems so serious, so legit and so powerful.  It is.  But a runner you are, so embrace it.

2.  Get Fitted for Sneakers.

You will quickly learn that your feet are the most important element of running.  If you wear sneakers that are too old, too tight, too loose, ill-fitting, too small or too big, you will pay the price in one way or another.  Blisters, sore knees, sore legs, black toenails and injury: all of these can result from the wrong shoe.  I recommend getting fitted at a running store, where employees are runners and know what they are doing.  I did this when I first started and go back every couple of years to just check that my size and style are right for me.  It's a good investment.  And my favorite shoes are Saucony Pro Grid, which I buy a half size larger than my regular shoe size.  They fit me and my super high arches like a dream.  I will note that a running store employee helped me realize I needed inserts for added arch support in my sneakers as well.  Talk about life changing!  My arches and knees would kill after long runs, but once I added the inserts, no more pain.  I never would have realized this on my own.

3.  Good Socks.

Socks, like shoes, are key to a happy runner.  Trial and error is the way to go here ... you will find what weight sock works best for you.  I am a huge fan of Balega socks and in particular their Hidden Comfort style.  I like whisper thin socks (except when it's super cold out), because I tend to blister, and Balega are my absolute favorites.  


4.  Check In.

Always make sure someone knows where you are going when you head out for a run.  Tell, text or call a friend or family member and let them know when, where, etc. you're headed and then check back in after.  Even if you bring your phone with you.  This hit home for me a few months ago when I was running solo in the very early morning and saw a couple of animals off in the woods around the trail that I run.  They just watched me (and I have no clue to this day what they were) but it scared me to think that no one knew where I was.  So now, I text a fellow early-bird friend when I head out.  It makes me feel better to know that someone knows where I am.


5.  Road ID.

Along the lines of checking in, get yourself a Road ID.  These are little identifying devices that give your basic info in case something should happen on a run.  I have one for my shoe, so I don't have to think about it.  They're $20 - worth every penny for peace of mind.


6.  Be Accountable.

It is easy to talk yourself out of running.  So, talk about it.  Talk about it a lot.  Tell people you are running now.  And most importantly, sign up for a race and then talk about that race.  I have been running for decades at this point, and I still slack off unless I have a race on the calendar.  I talk about my races a lot, so I know people are aware I'm running and will ask about the races.  I also think it's wise to have a friend on hand who you know will kick you in the butt if you need it.  There are mornings when I just don't want to run but know I should. That's when I reach out to one of my friends who is usually awake who I can count on to push me out the door.

7.  Wear the Right Clothes.

It is so easy to find the right kind of running clothes - Target, TJ Maxx, Marshalls all carry great, inexpensive options.  You will want that tech/wicking material for your running gear - fabric that wicks the moisture (aka: sweat) away from your body to keep you warm or cool.  Clothing styles are a preference thing.  I run in shorts, capris, tanks, short sleeves, long sleeves and everything in between.  It's all up to you and what you like.  Keep in mind that you should add 20 degrees to whatever air temperature it is when you run.  So if it is 50 outside, it will feel like 70 when you get into your run.   I am a huge fan of Nike shorts, Hind shirts and tights, Nike bras and shirts and Under Armor shirts.  If you are just starting out building your running wardrobe, I would head to a sports store or a running store and ask to try on a bunch of styles and brands.  It is worth the investment.

8.  Treat Yourself: Watch.

When you first start out, you don't really need  a fancy watch.  I used a regular $15 stop watch style from Target for years.  But I will tell you, as soon as I switched to my Garmin Forerunner 210, my running life changed for the better.  I have close to the base model and I love it.  It tracks speed, distance, elevation and time. And you can upload your runs to your computer and analyze them.  It's a great tool.  If you are going for a certain time or a PR (personal record/personal best), one of these watches is key because you will know your pace.  They are not cheap - definitely a few hundred bucks.  So it may be best to wait until you're sure running is for you.  One added bonus: Garmin makes a mount for bikes, so you can mount your watch to your handlebars and track your speed and distance there too.  It does not track cadence, but that does not really matter to me.


9.  Treat Yourself:  Tunes.

I never used to run with music.  I loved the silence.  I still do sometimes, but just like with the addition of my watch, the addition of my iPod nano changed my running life forever.  Long runs can be really long if you're alone.  I love listening to my music (the good, the bad and the mortifying) on my runs.  It makes the run super fun and I completely lose myself in the run and the music.  My nano clips onto my shorts or pants and I love all of these fun colors.  Mine is red.


10.  Headbands and Visors.

I need something on my head when I run.  I either use a visor (as seen above in the first picture) that I got at a regular sporting goods store (I think mine is Nike and I have one in white and black; they were $20 each) or I use these Sweaty Bands headbands, which I have found only at running stores.  These headbands are fabulous: they're super cute and with velvet on the underside, they stay in place and mop up sweat.  I even wear them on the weekends from time to time with my hair in a bun and big hoop earrings.

Whew! There you go.  My tips and tricks for getting started with running.  If you have any questions, I'm happy to try to answer.  Running is as much a part of my life as working, eating, sleeping. It's who I am, and it makes me feel amazing and strong.  I hope you have the same experience.  Anyone care to talk about running today?

See you swoon,

Disclaimer: None of the above companies mentioned have paid or otherwise comped me for mentioning them here in this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  Further,  I am not a professional and certainly not a doctor, so before you begin any running or other exercise program, please speak to a doctor first, listen to your body, know your limits.  I am not an expert:  this is just my compilation of tips for what works for me.

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