8 Tips for New Runners: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Running


When I started training for my first half marathon in 2011, I’ll admit I really had no idea what I was doing. I just walked outside and started running. I wore what I thought was suitable to run in, which included a really old pair of some generic sneakers that I had owned for probably close to 10 years and cotton t-shirts. Since then I’ve learned a lot, and I realized a couple of things that I wish I had known when I started.

Here are the top 8 things I wish I knew before I started running:

1. You need running clothes. 

  • When I first started running, I really thought running clothes were for “serious” runners trying to win races, and I didn’t need them. I learned quickly that you don’t buy running clothes because you’re trying to win, you buy running clothes because of chafing, heat tolerance, and cold tolerance. Why make running more difficult than it already is with uncomfortable clothing? There are a lot of places that sell breathable athletic clothing for reasonable prices. I’ve even found a few running tanks from Wal-mart.

2. You need running shoes. 

  • My explanation here is pretty much the same as what I stated for running clothing. You don’t buy running shoes because you’re trying to win, you buy running shoes because of blisters. I ran my first half marathon in a pair of really old sneakers and finished the race limping with a blister that went along the entire side of my foot (not even exaggerating there). I personally prefer to run in Mizunos, and I like to pair them with Wrightsock Coolmesh II socks. Ever since I started wearing that combo, I’ve been blister free! As a side note, be sure to test out running shoes during training to make sure they work for you before wearing them to a race.

3. Walking is okay! 

  • When I started running, I thought walking meant failure. This is very wrong. Taking walk breaks when needed is actually really helpful and can even give you a faster overall pace! I was really surprised when I beat my fastest mile during a run that included a walk break. Also, thanks to RunDisney, I learned about the Jeff Galloway run-walk-run method, which has been extremely helpful for me with training. You can learn more about the Jeff Galloway method at www.jeffgalloway.com. As long as you are meeting the pace requirements for the race you are registered for, there is no reason to stress about how much you walk.

4. “Bad” days will happen, shake ‘em off! 

  • I remember being far along with my training, when suddenly one day my body refused to run. I didn’t understand what was happening since I had been making a lot of progress up until that point. I’ve learned now that with running, you’re going to have days where it feels fantastic and random days where it feels really difficult.  The important thing is to not let the “bad” days get to you. You have to realize there is no such thing as a “bad” run! Everything you do is progress. The best way to approach a difficult run, is to approach it with a positive attitude. Christine gave some great tips for this in her post “Building Mental Stamina: 4 Strategies for Runners.”

5. Don’t compare yourself to other runners.

  • I used to get really discouraged about my pace and corral placement because when I first started running, everyone I knew was faster than me. I’ve learned now that it doesn’t matter.  We all cross the same finish line and earn the same medal. Everyone’s body is different with different capabilities. As long as you are pushing yourself, be proud of yourself no matter your pace! You’re lapping everyone sitting on the couch.


6. Be mindful of what you eat before a run.

  • It is important to never try a new food before a race.  The threat of a restroom emergency is real. Learn which foods work best for you during training. My favorite pre-run food is a peanut butter sandwich (sometimes with honey) and a banana. Before a RunDisney race, the whole Runs In Tutus team grabs Smucker’s Uncrustables sandwiches and bananas from the grab-and-go cafes located in various Disney hotels as pre-race snacks.

7. Follow a training plan.

8. Cross-training is a great idea. 

  • While the best way to train for a race is to run, I’ve found that cross-training, especially strength training exercises, can really help with your overall running performance. Amanda’s previous post “5 Best Exercises for Long Distance Runners” provides some great ideas for cross training. Along with using the tips from my personal trainer/fitness instructor sister Amanda, I am personally a ClassPass member, and take a variety of different classes to help with overall strength. I think the best way to approach cross training is to find something you enjoy doing. Yoga, Pilates, barre, weight training, kickboxing, dancing – there are a lot of options out there. I’ve even tried a surf inspired class and a Bollywood class!

Surf class at City Surf in Austin, TX


Showing off my Bollywood moves

I hope these tips help some new runners out there!


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