Tips for New Runners – Blog About It

This post is a part of my blog flash series, Tips for New Runners. It is based entirely on my own experiences as a new runner and may be missing a lot of information. This series is intended to help my readers find what works for them by sharing what worked or didn’t work for me.

I highly recommend that you blog or journal your running experience. Even if you don’t intend it to be shared with others, writing about your experience can be helpful for your future self.

Firstly, there are many things you’ll experience as a new runner that your runner friends, class leaders, running store staff and running magazine writers have all forgotten about. Keeping track of those experiences can be useful to you later on, and also just help you remember your experience more clearly.

If you start to notice a strange, recurring pain that lasts more than a few days, be sure to include it in your journal or blog. It might seem silly, or complain-y, but it’s really not. One of the things that new runners sometimes have trouble with is telling the “growing pains” that come from building muscle and gaining strength, from actual injury pains. If you blog or journal about a pain you’re having you can keep better track of it and maybe have a better idea of when seeing a doctor or PT is necessary. You’ll also be able to provide them with a more accurate account of when the problem started and how it has changed or intensified, which could prove useful to them in treating you.

On a more positive side, blogging or journaling about your runs can serve as a way to bring back really positive memories, possibly more clearly than you could otherwise. Every so often, particularly if I’m feeling discouraged or overwhelmed, I will go back and read the posts I wrote about running the Missoula Marathon in July. (Part One & Part Two) Reading my own account of my experience brings those memories back with an amazing degree of clarity, and knowing that I can accomplish something like running a marathon can really help me combat those feelings of being discouraged or overwhelmed. You may find, even if your goals are 5k and 10k runs, that reading through a post or journal entry of a positive experience can help you when you’re feeling discouraged.

Also, if you find yourself injured or having to take a break from running for any reason, good or bad, having a record of some of the things you went through may prove useful when you’re starting up again or getting back on track. It can help you remember how you handled certain little aches and pains, and which ones you might not have to worry about as opposed to things that might be more serious. Reading back through your blog can also remind you that you can do this, because you have done it before.

And if you do decide to share your blog with others, it can be a really fun way to connect with other runners and maybe even help out another newbie along the way.

Happy Running!

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Tips for New Runners – Socks

This post is a part of my blog flash series, Tips for New Runners. It is based entirely on my own experiences as a new runner and may be missing a lot of information. This series is intended to help my readers find what works for them by sharing what worked or didn’t work for me.

When I started running, I didn’t realize how important socks were. I went out on quite a few runs in regular, everyday cotton socks. For a while that wasn’t a problem. Running a mile or two in cotton socks isn’t really an issue for me. But once I got my mileage up to three miles and beyond, cotton socks stopped being okay and started causing me blisters.

I checked in with other runner friends and was directed to my local running store to purchase actual running socks. When I got there, I suffered a bit of sticker shock and went home to try to find less expensive options on the internet. I’m not sure I can recommend this course of action, to be honest. I ended up with two pair of socks that got me up to 12 miles before they started causing blisters, and then I just gave in and went to my local running store.

See, the thing I didn’t realize is that most of the blister-causing friction on my feet was actually being caused by my socks. Your shoes can be big and somewhat loose, to allow for feet swelling. Having a shoe that rubs isn’t necessarily going to cause you any problems. It’s really the sock that matters. If your sock isn’t moving against your foot, there isn’t going to be much friction against your skin no matter what your shoe does.  (See my future post on blister tape & chafing gels/creams for when toes rub and cause blisters.)

There are many, many brands of socks and many models made by each company and your feet may have different needs than mine. My best recommendation to you is to visit your local running store and have them help you pick out the best socks. If you experience sticker shock, as I did, buy one pair and try them out. After that, if they work for you, you might be able to buy them online or on sale days at a better price.

This series isn’t intended to be about product recommendations, but I will tell you which socks I use. For my shorter runs, I wear one of the less expensive Feetures models, but for my long runs it’s the Feetures Elites all the way. They were recommended to me by another distance runner friend and I love them. On my 26.2 mile marathon training run, I ran on a cold, miserable, rainy day. My feet were absolutely soaked within the first 3 miles. The only blister I got that day was not remotely sock related, but rather my own fault for poorly applied blister tape. It wasn’t even in an area where a sock could have caused it. You can also see sock reviews at various websites, including the Runners World sock review.

If you find yourself having blister problems, especially on longer runs, consider that your socks might be the culprits. Socks can be spendy, but the good ones really are worth it. Also, be extra sure to read the laundering instructions on your socks. Many of them call for turning your socks inside out in addition to the temperature and drying recommendations. Washing them according to the directions may well increase their lifespan and help keep your feet happy and blister free.

Tips for New Runners – Saving Money

This post is a part of my blog flash series, Tips for New Runners. It is based entirely on my own experiences as a new runner and may be missing a lot of information. This series is intended to help my readers find what works for them by sharing what worked or didn’t work for me.

Getting into running, like any other sport or hobby, can end up being expensive. Other runners may tell you that all you really need is a good pair of running shoes and that is true up to a point. But if you find yourself really getting into running, whether you choose to run more often or run farther, chances are good that find that you will want or need other things besides those shoes.

First off, I will tell you not to skimp on the shoes. If you’re on a budget, like I am, sometimes those shoe prices are heartburn-inducing. But good shoes are the first step to a happy running experience. Bad or broken down shoes can actually cause you all kinds of problems that you really want to avoid. So please see the nice people at your local running store and get good shoes. One way to reduce the heartburn of buying new shoes is to hit the sale days. Get in there early in the day before the selection is too picked over, and if you find a really awesome shoe, maybe get two pair if you can pull that off. You can also order a second pair online, once you’ve run in them long enough to be certain you really want another pair. Just make sure that the shoe company hasn’t changed the model enough to cause you trouble. This can happen from one year to the next.

Once you have the shoes, don’t worry too much about the other gear at first. Go run, see how you like it. If you think it’s something that you’re going to stick with, start thinking about other ways to make your running experience more comfortable and enjoyable and start buying what you can, when you can. Some things you might want are:

A good running bra: This is another area where hitting the sales is your best bet, and I’ll be writing up another post about how to choose a bra, so please keep an eye out for that post soon.

A water belt: If you’re interested in distance running, you may want a belt that holds water and other goodies to help you on your run. I’ll be posting more about belts as well, but what I will say now is don’t just buy the cheapest belt. I did that and I sort of wish I hadn’t. I bought a belt with two bottles in static positions and a smallish pouch, and while it is a great belt for a medium length run, it’s not sufficient for me on a longer run. I ended up buying a second belt that I was able to add more bottles and pouches to. I would have spent less money overall if I’d just bought the more flexible belt to begin with.

Socks: Socks will get their own post as well, but I do recommend that you at least chat with the people at your running store before choosing socks, even if you buy them elsewhere for less money.

Athletic clothing: Here is where you actually do have some options for saving money. If you get to a point in your running where you’re running longer distances or in weather that is either very cold or very hot, you’ll want the appropriate clothing. A lot of athletic gear can be really expensive. Step one for saving money is to hit the sales, but be careful. If you are working on losing weight, you might not want to buy something out of season because of change in fit, like buying shorts during the fall & winter sales. They might not fit anymore by the time spring rolls around. Shirts are a bit less of an issue there, though, so I would say hitting the sales on out of season shirts could work out a lot better for you, especially buying winter running shirts in the spring. Another option is secondhand shops. I made a few of my early purchases at the local secondhand shops. I was able to get some decent running tops, a couple of jackets and a pair of running pants fairly cheaply when I was starting out. You may have to hit multiple shops and you may have to go back regularly to get the best gear you can lay your hands on, but you can really save a LOT of money that way. A $50 pair of running pants can be as little as $5 or $10 at a second hand shop here, and shirts can run as low as $3 if you happen to go in on a day when the right tag color is on sale.

If you enter a race that has an Expo, you may also find some fantastic deals there. Before the 2012 Missoula Marathon, I hit the expo and found some really great deals on a bunch of gear there. And keep in mind that you’ll get t-shirts for many of the races you’ll run, so don’t feel like you have to have that many running tops. If you run many races, your t-shirt drawer will be overflowing before you know it.

Reflection: reflective gear will be discussed in the post on safety, but keep in mind that you can often get reflective tape really cheaply. You can put that tape on your shirt, belt, shoes, water bottles, etc. to help make you more visible when it’s dark or dim out.

If any of my readers have any other suggestions for saving money on running gear, I would sure love to hear them. Please leave your suggestions in the comments.