It’s marathon season in Champaign-Urbana. The 2023 Christie Clinic Illinois Race Weekend is set to kick off in just a few weeks on April 27. In honor of the upcoming races, I have compiled a list of things that make running just a little bit easier for me, someone who used to hate running.
When I tell you that I used to absolutely despise running I am not joking. I always played sports growing up, but I always saw running as a waste of time. I would have rather been on the court actually practicing my sport than running laps around a track.
Fast forward to adulthood and there are no more practices, no more open gyms and no more game days. Sure, I can (and do!) participate in as many rec leagues as I can find, but even that doesn’t fill the void of daily practices.
So, somewhere along the way, I decided to try out running. How hard could it be, right? Well, for the most part the concept is simple – you just run. That being said, there will be days when running is the absolute last thing you want to do. For those types of days, here are my best running tips & tricks:
Let’s Get Some Shoes
(1,000 points to anyone who understands that^ reference)
I cannot stress enough the importance of a good pair of shoes. And by good, I’m not telling you to go out and spend as much money as you possibly can on a pair of shoes. These Balenciaga kicks are $800 and they make my feet hurt just to look at them. I just mean that you need to go out and buy running shoes. My absolute favorites are Brooks Adrenaline, but it totally depends on your feet. In the CU area you can visit businesses like Body n’ Sole or Heel to Toe and they will size your feet and get you in a shoe that is perfect for your feet.
Trust me on this one. I am speaking from a painful experience with shin splints. If you aren’t familiar, consider yourself lucky. The short description I found on the internet reads “microtears in muscle and bone tissue”. Do yourself a favor and invest in a good pair of shoes so you can avoid this pain. I promise your body will thank you.
Find or Make Yourself a Good Playlist
There have been countless studies about how the BPM (beats per minute) of a song can help when you run. Runners World dives into that in this article. Basically the faster the beat, the quicker you’ll run.
While I’m sure that is probably accurate, I think what’s more important is to run to music that you like. I’m not even going to begin to suggest music here. Most of you would probably either throw your phone or just quit reading altogether. Music is very personal and very subjective. You like what you like and I like what I like.
Find something makes you feel good and just go with it.
You Don’t Have to Be Usain Bolt
Keep in mind the goal of running isn’t to be the fastest runner in the world. We’ll leave that up to Mr. Bolt himself. Ironically, my last name is Quick, but I can assure you that I am by no means fast. I have come to terms with the fact that running a sub 6 minute mile is probably not in the cards for me and that’s totally okay.
Find a pace thats good for you and stick with it. One of the worst things you can do as a runner is compare yourself to others.
Walk Forrest, Walk
Hey, in case no one told you, it’s actually totally okay to walk. Feeling tired or like you may have over done it? Walk. There is no rule that says you have to run for 30 minutes straight. Maybe try alternating between running a lap and walking a lap. This isn’t high school P.E. – no one going to get mad at you for walking a little bit. In fact, there is a legitimate method called the Run Walk method of running that was developed by an actual marathon runner.
If it’s good enough for a marathon runner, it’s good enough for you. Walk when you need to.
Run Outside vs. Treadmill
There is a HUGE difference between running outside and running on a treadmill. There are a number of pros and cons to both methods and it’s likely that you’ll want to incorporate both if you plan to start running regularly. Sometimes, things like the weather or access to a gym might make that decision for you. Some will argue that one is better than the other and vice-versa, but it all comes down to preference. Test both options out and see what works best for you.
If you plan to participate in outdoor races like those during the Race Weekend, it’s definitely a good idea to run outside at least some of the time.
Give Yourself Some Credit
My last piece of advice is to give yourself credit. So you only ran a mile? That’s still something. So you had to walk a little more than you wanted to? That’s okay.
Give yourself credit when you make an effort to run. You don’t have to break all of your personal records every time you run. When I’m having one of those days where it feels like my feet are stuck in concrete, I try and remind myself that at least I’m doing something. I could be sitting on my couch on hour four of a Netflix binge.
Be kind to yourself and recognize even the smallest of victories.