10 Things I’ve Learned Since I Started Running

Since I’ve been running, there have been a lot of things that I have picked up on that have made me laugh, cry (with pain) and made me damn right, furious – so I thought I would type them up and show them to you all.

I’m pretty sure that there are a few that you can relate to!

 10.        Long run + hot weather + no liquid = bad times
When I started training for the Great North Run (properly), I had to endure the fear of a long run. Prior to those, I’ve never ran further than 7 miles, so I had no idea how I would react or feel when it came to adding the miles into the tank. I’ve never, and still, been a fan of carrying a water bottle with me. It’s just awkward in my eyes, especially when it’s sloshing around every time you move your arms.

Anyway, when I eventually broke the 10 mile barrier for my weekend long run, nearly every time I ran from Gateshead to South Shields, the sun would be out and already be about 15+ degrees, which you can imagine was uncomfortable at times. Being stubborn, I continued not to take water with me and suffered dramatically because of this. I’d be covered in salty sweat, cramping up, followed by an almighty headache afterwards. I took that as a sign and bought a running bottle and forced myself to run with it, and it made a huge difference

9.           Vaseline is your friend

The only time I had ever used Vaseline, was for when I got cracked lips or hands – but never did I twig on that I may need it for training and I learned the hard way that I did.
During one long run to South Shields, I decided to wear my lyrca shorts and no underwear, yep, you read correctly, NO UNDERWEAR! It was such a school boy error in my books and something I would never, EVER, do again for as long as I’m able to run.

Without going into much detail, after I cooled down, I began to get a rather irritable pain around my perineum or the gooch area and steadily, it got worse and worse. What made it all the better was, I was travelling to Bedford in the car to watch Emma compete that day. So, not only was it ever so uncomfortable to sit, especially in a car for about 4 hours but it was even worse trying to walk. As soon as I got home I bought a big tub of it. Lesson learned!

8.           Parkrun’s are great

If you’ve never ran a Parkrun before, I highly recommend you try it at least once. It’s a great way to judge yourself as a beginner runner, like me, and even lay down some short and long term goals, like, aiming to finish the race running continuously, running under 30 minutes or lowering your personal best (PB) each time you run it.

I ran the South Shields one for my first experience of the weekly event, and it helped massively towards spurring me on to keep running and aim to lower times. I’ve learned how to pace myself over the course too.

7.           Winter weather

Winter’s coming. Well, it’s pretty much here to be honest. Is it just me but when you hear the rain or gale force winds in bed, it’s more relaxing or you get cosier…no? Okay then, just me.

You’ve heard the rain smash against your window like someone is peppering your room with stones. The wind is howling and the draft is chilling, yet you’ve planned a run and with every breeze that’s heard, you sink deeper and deeper into your pit, I’ve done that a few times. I’ve learned that no matter the weather, you do your run, no matter how long the distance is. Just think, the sooner it’s over and done with, the sooner you can have a hot shower, clean clothes and a cup of tea to celebrate, without the guilt of doing nothing.

Winter weather is minging of course, but running in the rain isn’t half class. I used to hate training outdoors when it was lashing down, now, I love it! I can’t wait to run some more during this winter period. May even run on Christmas Day again!

6.           There’s always that ‘one’ session

You know the feeling, you’ve trained hard, focusing on a goal or a race, and your sessions have been consistently good for weeks – until you have that one rubbish run.

I’ve had sessions where, as soon as I’ve started, I knew it was going to be crap and one to forget. There was one long run where I felt goosed after 5k, I hadn’t had any bad foods or alcohol the night before, so I knew I was okay in that department. I knew that, the first mile of a long run is always tough before you get into some kind of rhythm. Trying as hard as I could, I just couldn’t shake off the horrible feeling of exhaustion and it was another warm day. I had to make a call and did so by knocking it on the head. I took my normal route along the slip road of the A184 and along Kirkwood Gardens towards Pelaw Metro Station. I felt rubbish and grumpy – I hate missing or cutting training short. I realised, after a chat with Emma and stewing over it, those types of days happen.



5. Running events for the first time

It’s like Christmas has come early when there is a running event on, especially when you’ve been training for it or it’s your first one.

But when you’re planning to run a big 5/10k or even a half marathon, there’s always a bit of nerves floating about and it’s all good, I had a good 2 hour’s worth of butterflies on the day of the Great North Run. But there are other things that I have picked up on to use for the next race or next event after running them for the first time – that’s when you collect experience and apply them next time.

For me, it has to be getting to the starting point WAY before the gun goes. For three events, including the GNR, I’ve rocked up late and hardly had time to do a good warm up or left me in an utter panic to run around like a headless chicken trying to get myself organised.

3.           Buying new kit

If there is one thing that I’ve loved since being an athlete, is buying brand new kit. Although it’s tougher now than it was when I first took up the sport back in 2004, looking for new spikes, running shoes, leggings and t-shirts is one of the best feelings ever. Every year I’d head to Start Fitness to buy new training tops and, if I had the money, even buy a new pair of spikes.

Of course, I can’t do that as much anymore but that shop doesn’t half tempt me! If I can go there and walk out without buying anything, then I’ve been very strong!

It’s great to walk in to a shop like Start Fitness or Sweatshop and have the help to pick out the best shoes and kit to tailor for your running. Especially the way they analyse your gait and then pick out running shoes that match the results, it makes things so much easier!

2.           Garmin Gang

I’m not a member of this gang, but I wish I was!

The technology that goes with running excites me, I’m a huge techy and stats fan, so the Garmin watch pretty much sorts my fix out for things like that, trouble is, I don’t own one!

For sessions I’ve completed with the running group I’m in, there’s been splits and temps sessions, where I have to run a certain distance then turn around. I’ve only got a stopwatch, so I’m going off estimated times and learned the hard way, plus I do feel a little bit lost not knowing what my times were. I’m hoping that Santa brings me one for Christmas.

1.           Running Community

Since I started running, the amount of times that runners have said “hello” or nodded their head to me has been great, but I didn’t have a clue who they are!

It’s seems like, no matter where you run, anyone and everyone greet you, even if you feel like you’re on deaths door almost. They can provide help as well regarding kit, races and training sometimes, because of the experience some of them have picked up.
I’ve noticed that, during races and running events, people care. I’ve struggled up a hill or I’m feeling flat, I can almost rely on one runner to spur me on with encouragement – and boy oh boy, it helps.

I’ve reciprocated the gesture as well. During the Gateshead 10K earlier this year, the steep hill near the end, knocked a few runners off their stride, so I gave those struggling, a pat on the back and told them to “just keep gan, just keep gan”, I don’t know if it helps, I’d like to think it does.

So there you have it, that’s my list. I’m sure it’ll grow over time, well, I’m almost certain it will. Is there anything you can relate to? Comment below!

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