newbie runner

I’ve been running for five years now (three of them on trails) and I still make newbie mistakes. But you don’t have to.

There are lots of ways you can run on trails without getting lost or getting eaten by mosquitoes. Here are my best tips:

  • Plan. Just last week, I headed out on what I knew would be a three-mile trail run with no water, gear or phone. Sure, I was fine, but I would have been a whole lot more comfortable in the full sun with a little bit of water. I also missed taking pics of the deer I saw on the trail. And a bit of mosquito repellent would have saved me from bites all along my ankles.
  • Leave a trail. OK, you’re not Hansel and Gretel, but at least tell someone where you’re going, how far you’re planning to run and when you expect to be back.
  • Know where you’re going. Get as much information about the route before you head out, whether that’s getting a paper map or taking a picture of the map on the trail head.
  • Learn to read a map. In Michigan, trail maps typically show you where each marker is. Most trails also are assigned a color and list a distance. For example, I just ran through the yellow trail around Fort Custer State Campground in Battle Creek, Mich. Because I looked at the map, I knew it was a four-mile loop and that I could pick it up right by my campsite. But you should know that the distance between each marker does not necessarily correspond with a particular mileage. So, there may or may not be a full mile between mile marker one and two. The map may or may not show the distance between the mile markers either.
  • Related: Use the map, but pay attention. I ran that yellow trail three times in the week we camped at Fort Custer. The first time, I had already been running for a mile around the campground, so I went out a mile on the yellow trail, turned around and headed back. However, the second time, I didn’t look at the marker by the campsite, so it took me a few minutes of looking at the map to see where the trail connected with the campground so I could get back to my campsite. Doh.

    After a while, most trails look the same, so pay attention.

  • Pick one trail and stick to it. If there are multiple trails that intersect, pick a color or a trail name and stay on it the whole time. If you’re new, you may notice that some trails appear to split off, leaving you wondering whether to make a turn. Remember that most trails are like the highway; you want to stay on the main road unless there’s an arrow pointing to your exit (in this case, trail).

    Look closely: The yellow trail continues on the left, but you would have wanted to turn right if you were following the red trail.

  • Run with friends if you can. I don’t mind running trails by myself, but running with friends is a whole lot more fun. Plus, you get validation from them that, yes, you are definitely approaching a hill and should walk instead of run for a minute to catch your breath. And the jokes about just needing to be faster than all the other runners when encountering a bear never get old.
  • Have fun. Trail running — at least for us back-of-the-packers — is supposed to be slower and more enjoyable. Look around. Enjoy the view and the sounds. Maybe you’ll even fall in love with trail running. And remember: not every stick is a snake!

Do you run on trails? Any tips for newbies? Any mistakes you’ve made that you’ve since corrected? (You may have to click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

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You’ve spent a season training for your big race. You’ve put in hours and hours on the road or trail, you’ve run your race, gotten your medal and posted your accomplishment on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Now what?

First, it’s normal to have a bit of a letdown after achieving a big-deal-whoopie running goal. So much of your time and energy has been focused on getting to the start line that few of us spend much — if any — time thinking about what comes next.

What’s a runner chico or chica to do? That’s why I’m writing about the most challenging aspect of running right now for the Tuesdays on the Run link-up hosted by runner bloggers MCM Mama Runs, My No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice.

For me, it’s figuring out what to do after meeting a big audacious running goal, so I turned to my runner friends. Here’s what they said:

Kari: I’m new to running as of last October so I have some hefty goals ahead of me. With that being said, I started small and my race distances just keep growing. Is there really a limit? I truly don’t think so. Only thing that is limiting is our imagination and belief in ourselves. If a new runner sees a 100 miler in their future, I’d say “you got this” and encourage. Setting a new goal (signing up) is what has kept me motivated to succeed.

Erinn: Set another goal. A smaller goal — but still a challenge goal. Like best 5k (work on speedwork) or another fitness goal like pull ups, more paddle boarding for core strength, and all the while looking at other options. Word of mouth is the best way to ultra. If another runner tells you that “you’ll like this race,” heed their advice.

Shannon: I’ve both taken time off and just ran for health. I’ve also gone bigger and longer. Currently, I’m racing a lot, and I look forward to late November when I don’t have any more planned races. But the reality is that in November I’ll feel like I have no direction and I’ll feel lost, just like the last time I didn’t have any goal race scheduled.

Emily: I kind of just keep training for the next thing, even if it’s smaller than the big goal race, it helps keep me moving. Though, in autumn I don’t really need to extra motivation. The perfect weather is usually enough to get me moving because it’s just so beautiful.

Barb: I make a new goal after a big race. I already know what my next goal is, speed. I now know I can do the distance but now I want to get faster.

Janet: After the big goal, relax, enjoy the time and then get back to running. I run because I’ve experienced life when I couldn’t run and that sucks! So run because you can.

Corey: I’m typically depressed and irritable and eat non-stop until I sign up for the next big race. Running Grand Rapids marathon Oct. 23 which will qualify me for marathon maniacs, a goal I set for 2016. I’m looking now for my next big goal after that though, otherwise I’ll fall into winter holiday hibernation and gain 10 lbs.

Samantha: Bringing down the miles and giving our bodies a break is healthy. But … I’m scouring the Internet for upcoming races because I’m feeling crazy.

As for me, I haven’t yet decided what I’ll do next, whether I’ll be focusing on distance or speed, for example. But what I do know is that I’ll take a cue from my mentors Brandess, Janet and Shannon: I’ll be focusing on helping my friends reach their goals. Because that’s what I love the best about running: other runners.

What’s the most difficult aspect of running for you right now? Feel free to share your own blog posts below. (Click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Running advice roundup

by lachicaruns on

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I’ve been very fortunate that running has brought many gifts, including a plethora of runner friends. In particular, I’ve been blessed with very experienced runner friends who’ve mentored and encouraged me.

Thanks to them, I’ve learned a bunch of lessons, often without going through the pain of making too many mistakes. As part of today’s Tuesdays on the Run link-up hosted by runner bloggers MCM Mama Runs, My No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice, I am sharing some of the best running advice I’ve gathered. Be sure to click on the hyperlink to read more:

I can no longer say I’m a newbie, but I continue to need my runner tribe as I continue on this journey. Hopefully, you can learn a thing or two as I do.

What’s been some of the best running advice you’ve gotten? Feel free to share your post here if you’ve written about this topic before. (Click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

Whether you’re a new or, ahem, more-experienced runner, there are few things more important to your success than the right running partner. But what makes a person good running-buddy material?

good running-buddy traitsHere are five traits that will make you a good running buddy:

  1. They listen. Whether you’re having a crappy day or celebrating a recent accomplishment, a good running buddy listens. Just like with any relationship, it’s a good sign when both of you can take turns talking about what’s going on in your life. Bonus points for a running partner who knows when to be quiet and when to provide solutions or feedback. Extra bonus points for knowing that what’s said on the run stays on the pavement.
  2. They share. I’m not talking about sharing running gear, but about sharing their experience. Some of my most-memorable runs were those times when a very-experienced runner shared some nuggets about training that helped me overcome an issue or that helped me prepare for a challenge. Bonus points for a buddy who also brings extra fuel to share on long runs.
  3. They pace. Some of my favorite running partners can hit a 12-minute-per-mile pace for 13.1 miles without even looking at their watch. I call a couple of them my personal pacers. Some are particularly good at slowing us down when we get to talking and speed up too much on long-run day and risk burning out too early. Bonus points for being a buddy who knows when to help you adjust your pace, whether that’s slowing down or doing some speed work.
  4. They’re consistent. As I’ve said before, I have the best running friends. These particular running friends will get up to run at 5:15 a.m. on a regular basis to help each other stick with our training plans. And since consistency is one of the most important aspects of my training, I appreciate that my running buddies support my running goals. Bonus points for running partners who run with you in inclement weather.
  5. They’re encouraging. The best running partners are the most supportive, whether they’re there in person or not. Some of my favorite running buddies spend inordinate amounts of time chatting with me online, answering questions, helping me anticipate potential problems and find solutions. Bonus points for not killing me in the process (even though I know you want to).

I’m not following the day’s theme for Tuesdays on the Run, the weekly link-up with hosts runner bloggers MCM Mama Runs, My No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice, but I am linking up. Do go check out their posts and make sure to comment below.

What makes for the best running buddies? Are you fortunate enough to have some in your life? Feel free to share your blog post if you’ve written about this topic. (Click on “Continue Reading” to leave a comment.)

gym bag running necessitiesEver try to run without your running shoes? Or without socks? How about with no sports bra?

Unfortunately, those are three essential things that I have forgotten when packing a bag for a post-work run. #fail

Let’s just say that I once found myself shopping for socks at a local Sears and only finding “athletic socks” that made my feet sweat and stink. Blech.

In the spirit of helping you avoid a similar horrible fate, here’s a checklist of running necessities you should include in your workout or gym bag (think head and shoulders, knees and toes):

  • Head: Hat, visor, headband, ponytail holder, bobby pins, and/or a brush or comb. Think, too, of headphones, sunglasses, a headlamp and ChapStick.
  • Shoulders: Sports bra, shirt (singlet, tank, T-shirt or long-sleeve tech shirt), a jacket if you need it, gloves in the winter, plus hand warmers, running watch/GPS tracker, RoadID and heart-rate monitor. If you wear one, remember your hydration vest, hand-held bottle or water belt/luggage. You may want to bring your cell phone, so make sure it’s charged, or grab an external charger (don’t forget your cord!).
  • Knees: Thinking above-the-knees here, technically. Wicking underwear, running shorts/skirt/tights/capris.
  • Toes: Socks, running shoes, orthotic inserts, Band-Aids or any tape you may use between or under toes to avoid chaffing.
  • Bonus: Deodorant and other toiletries if you plan to shower afterward, baby wipes, sunscreen, bug spray, dry shampoo, towel, clean clothes and a snack.

Feel free to add or remove things from the list, but do take a moment to make sure you have everything you need when packing your running or gym bag. Doing so will help ensure you have one less reason or excuse to skip a training day. And if you do end up forgetting, chalk it up as a rest day and try again after checking the list.

Running or race-day mishaps is the theme of today’s Tuesdays on the Run, the weekly link-up with hosts runner bloggers MCM Mama Runs, My No Guilt Life and Marcia’s Healthy Slice. Hope you spend a few minutes checking out all of the other bloggers’ posts and/or sharing your own.

Would you add to the list of necessities for a gym or workout bag? How do you make sure you have everything you need?