Every couple of weeks or so, I would like to post about my running, just as a different way to track my progress and motivate myself, and possibly others. But first, I’m going to recap my year plus of running and let you guys know what’s worked for me, what hasn’t, why I continue to do it, etc

I had tried running for years, typically on the treadmill at my parent’s house, but could never stick with it. I tried to follow training plans that I saw online, but I never stuck with it. A big problem was my lack of motivation and not seeing immediate results.

Last spring, Jess wanted to take up running as a way to get out of the house and workout. We started a Couch to 5K program through an app that we downloaded on our phones. We did our first run, and I thought it went well, but Jess quickly found out that it wasn’t for her. I ran in my basketball shoes and after my second run in them, I knew that I would need actual running shoes if I wanted to keep logging miles.

I went to Champs Sports for my first pair of running shoes. I tried on a few and just picked the ones that felt most comfortable. I didn’t realize that, while comfort is important, more goes into picking a good running shoe than just how it feels when you first slip it on. The pair I picked out was manufactured by Mizuno. After a month or two of running in my Mizuno’s, my feet were killing me. I blamed it all on the shoes. It could’ve been my lack of pre and post-run stretching, or maybe I was over-running, but I thought the shoes were the real culprits.

That’s when I found out about Bull City Running, a specialized run store just a half mile from where I live. I went there and was put through a run test by Anna. After looking at my stride and how I walk, Anna told me that a neutral shoe would work best for me and gave me a couple of different options. I went with a pair of Saucony’s. Not only were they comfortable, but they were Panthers colors as well. Since then, I’ve used Bull City Running for all my needs. It’s really great to talk to people who enjoy running and know what they’re talking about. Last week, I had one of the worst sessions ever. I wasn’t mentally into it, and my body gave out a good mile and a half from my destination. I ended up walking the rest of the way, but I stopped by Bull City, was able to rehydrate, and chat with Zane, who gave me some good encouragement.

I ran my first 5K last September, the Hurricanes 5K at the PNC Arena. I remember being so nervous that I would finish last. Even at the race, when I saw everyone else and the various ages, I still had a fear of finishing last. Fortunately, I didn’t finish last. Overall, I did well, clocking in at around 27 minutes.

Over the past year, I’ve tried just about everything to increase my speed and distance. I’ve done a couple of different warm-up routines before finally settling on my current routine, which includes some stretching, the lunge matrix, and some active warm-ups. I bought compression sleeves for my legs, a foam roller, elastic bands, and some other stuff that I’m probably forgetting. When I first started running, I neglected the post-run stretching, but now know how important it is to stay injury free.

I used to be sore all the time after my runs but have learned how to take better care of my legs. The running, for the most part, is easy. Before the run, after the run, and the days off are the tough parts. Knowing how to properly warm-up and cool down, and what days to take a break are important. On days that I’m not running, I still like to stretch my legs, do a mini strength workout, and foam roll to ensure that my legs remain healthy and strong. Eating and drinking the right things before, during, and after a run are key as well.

I found that being on a training plan is the best way to keep running. At least for me. After I finished the Couch to 5K program, I just ran without a purpose or goal. It’s good to have runs like that, but it’s tough to improve if you’re not working towards something. I’m currently on a 10K program and am motivated to see it out. I can’t imagine training for anything like a marathon or even a half marathon, but if I can do a 10K, I think that’s pretty damn good.

I don’t know if I could run without my music. I tried to listen to a podcast when I was running and found it far too dull and boring. I need something that’s going to keep my legs pumping, which is why I designed my own playlist. I use the MapMyRun app, which tracks lets me listen to music through the app and coaches me on my training plan. I started with the Nike Running app but found the options far too limiting.

There are some days when I don’t want to run or am mentally defeated before I tie my shoes. I hate those days. I’m still not sure whether it’s best to skip those days or try to push through it. When I skip, I feel like I’ve let myself down. But when I try to push through it, it never goes well, and a poor run is just as defeating as not running at all. I think on those days; it’s best to run without a plan. Just get out there and go until you’ve decided to have enough. Even if it’s only a couple of miles at a slower pace, at least it’s something. I should probably take my own advice on that one.

I love being on the American Tobacco Trail. I try to smile and nod at every person I pass going the opposite direction, even though I don’t know them. It’s an unspoken bond between people working towards something. I don’t know their goals, and they don’t know mind, but I know they’re out and doing something, which is good enough for me.

The best advice I can give a new runner is to invest in the right pair of shoes and treat your pre and post-run routines just as important as your run. You don’t need to splurge on cool looking shirts or high-tech headphones or all the other stuff that’ll make you stand out, but won’t make you feel better or run easier. Trust me; I’ve tried to buy things that I thought would decrease my pain or increase my speed, but all I needed to do was invest a little more time on myself and my routines. Also, find a running specialize store. If it’s a local shop, even better. Not only will they put you on the right path, but they will also hold events and open you up to a whole new community.

I’m not a running expert by any means, but I’ve found what works for me, and if I can help others find what works for them, I’d love to help out.

Energy, Hydration, and Nutrition For Your Run

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