Running Tips For When Running Doesn’t Come Naturally
Not everyone was made to be a runner and many people simply don’t know where to start when it comes to running! Use these practical running tips as a baseline for getting started when running doesn’t exactly come naturally to you.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I love all forms of working out but mostly I like weights and even more when they’re heavy! And the truth is, I was never a runner. In fact, I despised it with a passion. It was a running joke with my clients (<– running, funny, right?) that if stuck between having to fight a criminal and running away, I’d have a better chance fighting lol.
In the last few years though I have come to enjoy my time running (which is still so freaking odd to say!) and thought I’d help you out with some running tips, lessons, and rants if you’re thinking about jumping in.
Don’t want to read the behind the scenes stuff? JUMP directly to the tips.
Why I Took Up Running
I mentioned above: I was not a runner. Ever.
In my childhood, I simply wasn’t active and, in my teens, and early twenties I was a smoker (learn more about my personal fitness journey). So, there was zero physical activity let alone running!
Who the hell wanted to be one of those fitness weirdos anyway? They’re crazy 😀
Once I got into working out and lifting weights, running was still pretty far down on my “I’ll do when hell freezes over” list.
I was one of those trainers who believed that running killed #gainz and more than that; it was horrible for you, you’re prone to injury and your joints will hate you. And while all of the things can be proven true to some extent, running is not the worst thing you can do in this world 😛
Injuries can come from any kind of training and truthfully speaking before we allowed ourselves to get to this point of laziness, running was pretty common on the “I have to survive front”. So, a case can be made both ways.
My bottom line opinion is always to find something you love and rock it. If that’s running, lifting, flipping, fighting it doesn’t matter. This is truly the secret to staying fit.
Train smart, safe and rock it. And never be scared to try something new!
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Train smart, safe and rock it. And never be scared to try something new! #fitasamamabear #fitness #fitlife” quote=”Train smart, safe and rock it. And never be scared to try something new! “]
Alright so back to running. Part of the reason I refused to run (aside from not being able to breathe, run down the block or enjoy it) was that my knees hurt. This is kind of a blanket excuse (more on it below) and a crappy one at that (here’s how to boost knee strength).
So how the hell did I end up running?
When I was pregnant with my first, I hated not being able to do everything I loved the way that I wanted. I stayed fit through all my trimesters (read more about first, second & third fitness help) but it wasn’t exactly how I would normally train.
So, at about 30 weeks pregnant with baby bear, I promised myself I was going to do something I’d never done before. I was going to push outside of my comfort zone, smash a goal and push as hard as I could. I was going to run a 5k. (you can read more about my running goal and it’s hilariousness here on my training website)
My husband laughed.
Part of the reason I picked running stems from The Walking Dead. So, before you read further: I am a TWD fanatic. Seriously fanatic. I love that show. But have you ever noticed how much running you have to do in a zombie apocalypse?! Seriously, there’s a lot.
And while I like to think my strength would help me in that kind of world (I can climb, I could probably fight a bit, I could carry) one of the flaws in my approach is the ability to run. Seriously, I couldn’t. not even one block!
And so my running journey began. For the sole purpose of being able to outrun zombies if the need arises.
Fast forward to when baby bear was eight months old and it was time to get started on this running goal. FML. I was SO GRUMBLY about training- and of course I neglected to read anything on running tips 😛
My First Exeperinces Running
I used the app Couch To 5k as it was recommended and jumped right in. in my stubbornness, I refused to alter the rest of my training to accommodate this ridiculous goal. So, I was putting in an insane amount of training hours!
The first time I ran, I couldn’t even make it thirty seconds.
By the second week, I got horrific shin splints. That shit is real ladies. It sucked.
But I pushed on. Once I’m committed to a goal, I have a tough time letting up. I ran in heat, rain, before bed. I got it in.
I’ll save you the rants about my hatred while completing this goal… there were a lot. In a blog on my training site, I remember actually writing “what the eff is wrong with you people” coming home from a run. But know that little by little it got better. Hard. Sweaty, challenging. But better.
The first time I put in the full 5k I came home and felt like vomiting. But I did it.
And I did run my first 5k when baby bear was just ten months old. It was hard but I had done it. And after that goal was when I realized… I actually didn’t hate running (GASP). Trust me, no one was more shocked than I was!
For the rest of the year, I ran sporadically when I wanted to and not for a full five kilometers. Without the goal, I found I liked running even more. Actually, it helped clear my mind.
Then it got cold here, and I got pregnant again and running ceased. Once I had my second I (oddly enough) itched to get back to it. And here I am, running once again.
What Running Is To Me Now
I’ve taken a lot of time to think about how in the hell I came to like running! Aside from the fact I feel proud that I could at least temporarily outrun zombies running helps me think.
I work out with my girls every day of the week. While it’s awesome, it’s not exactly “me” time. When I run, I can leave the house, I can zone out, I can calm down and think. I don’t run hard, fast or overly far (I normally average 3-4km so not even 5k) but I still do it. And this year, I even braved running through the winter- which is sheer insanity!
So, my crazy journey was not all pointless. Which brings me to the second half of this post (I bet you probably didn’t come here just to hear about my need to run from zombies right??). I learned a crap load of things those first few months running.
And I learned even more in the next three years running while I perfected the “I don’t hate this” part.
Having never been a runner, having previously been a smoker and having experienced some joint issues, I learned far more than I had signed up for.
I love the couch to 5k app. It’s amazing. But it also has you starting off running 3x per week. While this may be ok for some, I refused to adapt my regular workout routine for my initial goal. And since I had never ever run, this caused the worst case of shin splints of life.
I scaled down to twice a week afterwards, but it was a good lesson.
Start slowly in terms of how frequent you’re running and also how intensely. If your body isn’t used to it, give it a chance to build up!
The couch to 5km app is wonderful because it has you start with walk to run intervals and slowly work your way up. The first time it asked me to run for three minutes straight, I freaked out… but I was able to do it!
Learn About Shoes
Sigh, this one enraged me too. Just grabbing a pair of sneakers and hitting the pavement if you’re not a runner may not work out well. (read more about achieving running goals!)
Due to my poor ankle mobility (my glutes were strong by this point!), running and I were not friends. It wasn’t until my osteo told me I needed shoes with “forefront cushioning” that it eased up. In fact, when it comes to running tips, this is normally the one that most people tell you about.
Basically, I don’t like to run properly, and the shoes force me to. Once I sucked it up and purchased a really good pair, running felt AMAZING. I’m a heel striker and learned that i need a shoe with “forefront cushioning” to help reduce that.
I still sigh when I tie up my runners. They feel that great. Asics is easily my most favorite brand of running shoe- mainly because they solved all my issues.
You Need To Be Strong To Run
This is easily my biggest piece of advice when people ask me about running tips. As much as I hate to admit it, you really do need to have a base amount of strength in order to be runner!
The complaint of “me knees hurt” way back when was because my glute strength sucked (here’s why you want to strengthen the glutes!) and I had poor ankle mobility. All of this led to my knee caving in and not tracking right upon impact which caused pain.
The glute muscles are one of the most important muscles to keep strong when it comes to running. I’m a fanatic about glute muscles (read more on why and how to train them at home). And it was stronger glutes that made the biggest difference for me personally in reducing pain in my knees.
If you have poor mobility or strength, running is a terrible form of fitness for you to start with. Because the repetitions are so high, the repetitive nature causes a lot of pain if your form is off and your body isn’t performing properly.
Seriously, your time would be better spent fixing first.
I’d also note that foam rolling can help immensely when running. While I believe that focusing on mobility is crucial (if you think of the glutes, you cannot strengthen a muscle that doesn’t move through a full range of motion- which is discussed in this podcast on back pain), I’ve learned from experience that foam rolling is crucial to my running season.
I do foam roll post-post workout but don’t place as much emphasis on it during my lifting season. Once I learned more about how foam rolling is much more about trigger pointing than anything, I learned that spending adequate time a few days per week on my calves, IT band and quads made me completely pain-free. It’s been a game-changer- especially last year when I upped my kms!
You can grab a foam roller from ProSource.com and use code mamabearfit to save some money!
Want To Run Pain-Free?
If you’re looking to scale back knee pain, reduce back pain and carry kids easier check out my Stronger Glutes For Busy Moms. A simple, mini-course giving you all the tools you need to strengthen your glutes.
This mini-course takes busy moms through the fundamentals of glute training and glute exercises (how to contract the glutes, what specifically the glutes respond to) and teaches you how to progressively strengthen your glutes over a five-week period.
This course comes with:
- Mini glute workouts – no equipment needed
- Mini glute workouts – with resistance bands
- 3 post-workout glute finishers
- 5-week progressive workout programs
The difference between this mini-course and sporadic, glute exercises is that this glute course and the workouts are progressive. Meaning, they build on one another. The five-week, full-body workout program alters at week four to keep stimulating the glutes.
Since the glutes muscles respond best to variety, the workouts (as well as the glute finishers and mini glute workouts) target the glute muscles in different planes of motion and with different set and rep schemes. This is crucial to developing strength in the glutes.
Take the guesswork out of your glute training and follow a plan. Learn the best practices to implement when it comes to strengthening glutes and reap the benefits of less back pain and the ability t carry kids easier. Because being strong isn’t optional when you’re a mom. Grab your seat in the mini glutes course and start implementing the exercises today.
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Make A Good PlayList
This is actually the most crucial out of all the running tips. When I work out, I love harder music like Eminem and Linkin Park. It turns out they SUCK for running music for me though.
Instead, I need upbeat songs that basically make me want to bust out in dance (Flo Rida or whatnot). Either that or I need songs that make me think. This helps me zone out and almost meditate/daydream while I run. It took me two years to get to the “zone out” point though so don’t rush yourself!
If you have crap music, about four minutes into your run you’ll wonder wtf you’re doing running. Instead, take the time to craft a playlist or two so you don’t weep about the fact you’re trying to run- especially if you’re winter running!
Running Tips: Have A Goal & A Plan
Just like lifting weights, if you don’t have a plan you kind of just aimlessly do crap and never really achieve much.
My goal was to run 5k, no more. This time around my goal is the same: run five kilometers. To me, this is just a good amount.
Each time I run, I try and progress a little; push a bit longer, change my intervals etc. If you’re not progressing your workouts your body won’t adapt to them. If you’ve not idea how to progress your running workouts, snag the app: couch to 5k – it actually does a really great job!
Update: I’ve used a lot of tracking apps in the last year. I adore the couch to 5k app when you’re LEARNING to run. From there I use an app called Runkeeper (again loved it) to track my distance and pace. This past year I broke down and got a Garmin Forerunner35 which is so far my absolute favorite tracker because I can look down and see my pace (or set it to the pace I want and follow my watch). I’ve also used AISportage Smart Shoes which tracks everything from your feet and transfers it to an app. Trial and error trackers and see which one works best for you.
Warm The Eff Up
Another area I liked to skip thinking that walking a few minutes would be enough. It’s not. Grab a five minute warm-up and make sure you do some dynamic work and mobility drills before your run.
This will help the proper muscles know they should be firing and reduce discomfort and injury.
Pay Attention To Your Body
It turns out, while I have an ideal body to run my body actually hates running. Seriously, it is just not something that comes naturally to me. So not only do I need to pay attention to how I’m running while I’m running. But it also means that I need more recovery between runs.
My issue with workouts is that I love them. I love pushing or escaping or just the sheer physical-ness of them. Unfortunately, my body doesn’t tolerate this and I’ve learned (the hard way) that I can’t run on back to back days or do two five-kilometer runs in a week (though hill sprints + one long run works).
You know your body best, so pay attention to it! If your ankle/hip/knee is just feeling a bit off, instead of heading out for your run and placing a bunch of repetitive impact on it, opt for something else. Foam roll, stretch or do some mobility work but listen to the signs and cues your body gives
Don’t forget to pin these running tips!
Honestly, there’s a lot that goes into learning to run. And for most of us, it doesn’t come easily. You’ve got to work for it. I never (seriously ever) in my life thought I would say I enjoy running but I do. But in the last few years, there have been many lessons learned! Hopefully, these running tips can help you not make the same silly mistakes I did when learning to run.