Wednesday, May 13, 2015

In Honor of Newbie Runners

This Sunday, I'm racing the Block Melanoma 5k at the Zoo. This event holds a special place in my heart as it was my first 5k race attempt when I was a new runner. Before that race, I had done only one other 5k - but it wasn't for time and was more of a run/walk to see if I could actually finish a 5k. Back then, I thought it was a really long distance!

Anyhow, in honor of the newbie runner I was four years ago, I'm using this post to poke fun at a few of my running and racing mishaps. These things happen to the best of us as we're learning!

I overdressed for a race - At that first 5k race, I dressed like I was going to run in sub-zero temps. It was around 60 degrees but seemed super cold to me. So I layered up in tights, a long-sleeve top, a fleece jacket, a headwarmer and gloves. Needless to say, less than a half mile in I was ready to rip off every layer. I overheated so bad but learned from the experience. Never again will I make the mistake of racing in too many layers!

I did too much, too soon - While training for my first marathon, I had it in my head that more miles was always better. As a result, my hamstring gave out two weeks before the marathon. Looking back, I can see exactly what happened. In the month leading up to the injury, I ran a hard half marathon, followed by two 60-mile weeks and then another half marathon when the injury occurred. As a result, I had to walk/jog my first marathon with a still injured hamstring. Definitely not the race I had been training for all summer. 

This medal serves as a reminder that more is not always better!

Training meant trying to run one mile as fast as possible - When I first started running, I knew nothing about training plans, weekly mileage, workouts, etc. All I knew was that I wanted to get faster. So to this newbie runner, that meant hopping on a gym treadmill and doing a tenth of a mile walk warmup followed by running one mile as fast as I could. I did this several times a week because I didn't know any better. Over time, I was able to run a mile faster - but I also ended up with an achy knee from all of my 'speedwork'. A blessing in disguise, the knee issues forced me to slow down and eventually I started training like a smarter runner.

I missed the start of a race - This happened at a race that had both half marathon and 5k races. I arrived one hour prior to the start to make sure I could get in a proper warmup and have time to use the restroom, etc. However, I somehow missed the fact that the half marathon and 5k races were starting together. So when runners lined up at the start, I thought it was just the half marathoners and I stood at the side and cheered them on. Only after almost all of the runners had gone through the start line did I realize it was also the 5k start. I had to scramble to the start line and begin the race in last place. 

I somehow salvaged the race and won an AG prize. Mom also won a trophy!

I fueled all wrong - Every runner is unique so correct fueling for a run or race is really dependent on what works for that individual person. For me, I quickly learned I was not going to get by on a diet of Special K 90-calorie cereal bars and gummy candies. I also learned to never, ever hit the Ethiopian lunch buffet before an afternoon long run. Unless you like to hiccup and burp throughout your run ;)

Even though I still feel like a newbie runner at times, I know I've learned a lot these past few years. It's been a fun journey and I can't wait to learn even more as the years go by!

My questions for you:
  • How long did/will you consider yourself a newbie runner?
  • What newbie runner mistakes did you make?
  • What running wisdom would you share with a newbie runner?

- ST

19 comments:

  1. Great post!
    I made a lot of rookie errors as a newbie runner - I felt that I needed to RUN ALL THE RACES, wore too much gear, kept running injured, etc.
    My advice to anyone just getting started is to take your time - soak in all of the excitement of races, but grow your weekly mileage slowly. Don't forget to pay it forward and VOLUNTEER at races, too - you get all of the excitement of race day, while helping others and giving back to the running community!

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    1. Thanks Laura! I love the tip of paying it forward and volunteering at races. It's a great way to get involved and meet other runners while doing good :)

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  2. #2 You and I did the exact same thing! I felt fine after a half, so I was like ehh I'm going to keep adding...yikes and that was when I wasn't a newbie runner! Maybe it's because I was a newbie to races that long...yeah we'll blame that ;).

    That's a really great story of you missing the start of a race and still pulling off a win! That's awesome!

    The special-k bars and gummy bars...haha it's nice that you can look back on all these memories and smile now :) It also probably helps new runners to know that is extremely common to make these kinds of mistakes in the beginning and even later sometimes ;). My advice to newbies and really everyone including myself, is to not get overwhelmed by the paces of others. Whether it's during a race, we need to run our race or if it's after, it's okay to want to strive to be better and be motivated by others performances, but we have to remember not to compare ourselves and remember it's all about progress :)

    Have a great race, Sunday! Rooting for you all the way from AZ! :)

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    1. Thanks Hailey! I think that is a great point - it really is all about progress - not how we stack up against other runners. All you can do is your best on race day and if you can do that, it's a success!

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  3. i still overdress sometimes... lol! i'm learning. ;)

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    1. I think it's the Wisconsin winters - I really dislike being cold so I still sometimes end up with an extra layer. But nothing like that first 5k :)

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  4. I ran track in high school and PT in the Army but then I took about a 25 year break from running. I have been back running for about 4 years now. My first race was the Luck of The Irish 5k and it was not pretty. I thought the training I did on an elliptical would prepare me for a 5k. I had a super fast pace on the elliptical and I thought I would go out and smoke the 5k. Boy was I wrong. I did a lot of walking on that 5k. At the gun I went out way to fast. I had no concept of pacing myself.

    After a few years of reading about running and following posts, I am doing my first marathon this Sunday in Green Bay. I still feel like a newbie. With each new distance I run I continue to learn. I am looking at doing a 50k trail run in July. I have a lot to learn about doing that type of distance. With this sport, like many, there is always something to learn. I think I will be a newbie for many years as I push myself and my body to ways I didn't think possible before.

    Good luck on your run Sunday. Happy running!

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    1. Best of luck at your race, Bob! How exciting to tackle your first marathon!!

      I agree there is always something to learn. And as we learn, we can only get better :)

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  5. Great post!
    I considered myself a newbie for years.
    Biggest mistake: I ran 1 half and jumped straight to a full. I even ran a 50k before I ran a 5k. I learned how important it is to build a proper base.

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    1. Wow, a 50k before a 5k?? Those are impressive jumps in distance! Sounds like you've worked out building a proper base - Boston Qualifier!! :)

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  6. Great light-hearted post :) Hmm I suppose my rookie mistake was not getting fitted for shoes when I first started running (I had no idea there were different types of shoes for different types of feet/strikers). I ended up with a black toenail (and my only black toenail ever) after my first race (which happened to be a 10K...skipped right there) :)

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    1. Ha, I hear you on the shoes thing. I think my first pair of shoes were actually cross trainers from Sports Authority. Luckily I quickly discovered a local running store and they got me in proper shoes :)

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  7. Block Melanoma was also my first race, back in 2012.

    I thought that since there was a water stop I should stop and get water. I didn't know that drinking from a cup while running was so difficult! Or that you don't really need on-course hydration for a 5K. :-)

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    1. Awesome that Block Melanoma was also your first race! It's a good one :)

      And yes to getting water during a 5k! I remember doing that, too!

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  8. I'm pretty sure that I didn't fuel for my first half marathon, I'm not sure how I made it through!

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  9. I'm pretty sure that I didn't fuel for my first half marathon, I'm not sure how I made it through!

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    1. Sheer will to get to the finish line - and collect that medal :)

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  10. I did the over dressed thing at a couple races early on, you learn pretty quick on that I think, it kinda makes it miserable:)
    So funny you didn't get to the race in time, but still ended up winning AG, that is awesome!
    I was once sitting in a port-o-pottie when the gun went off for a race, so I ended up starting further back in the pack. Oddly I kind of liked getting to pass lots of runners for a change:)
    I used to fuel so wrong, I have totally changed that and went with some methods my dad and a few other old school runners.. Basically I don't really fuel anymore, and I do far better that way. I mean I eat lightly before a race, but I train myself to run on stored fuels not immediate fuels anymore, I have such better results because of it:)
    I think people are only a newby runner for their first few races. I have been racing since I was 8, literally haha. So I never felt totally new, but with each new distance I felt like a newby the first time.
    However, with that said, I also learn something new from every single race I run, and I like that about running there is always ways to improve and new things to learn and discover about the sport!

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    1. I agree, Kristy! I think that's why I'll never quite be able to shake feeling like a newbie runner - there's always more to learn and experience!

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