10 Things That Have Helped Me On My Running Journey

naty michele running

My running journey started a little over 4 months ago. After weeks of feeling at my lowest during quarantine, I knew that I needed to make some serious changes in my life. As I have shared before, I definitely overdid it on the drinking at home. My anxieties were at an all time high. There were many sleepless nights and tears that were shed. I truly think I got to one of my lowest points and it was difficult to open up and share that with everyone. This pandemic has shifted so much in my life, but ultimately has pushed me to grow into a better version of myself.

I was inspired by a close friend to get into running this summer. I’ve done it here and there in the past, even ran a 5K for colon cancer in 2010 in support of my father after his diagnosis, but never stayed consistent with it. That has pretty much been the extent of my relationship with running. It had been years since I did it, so that very first run was a struggle for me. I could barely get through one mile. I welcomed the challenge though and knew that this was what I needed to release a lot of the tension and stress in my life.

I recently hit over 100 miles run and it’s an accomplishment that I am very proud of. It’s such an amazing feeling to look back and see the progress that you have made. In no way am I an expert on running. This is still so new for me and I am constantly learning more about it. Since I have been sharing this journey with all of you on Instagram, I also wanted to share some of the things that have helped me get to this point. I hope you find it helpful and if you have any tips to add, please do!

CONSISTENCY 

The more you do something, the better you will get. It’s been important for me to keep up the momentum each week so that it could transition into part of my lifestyle instead of feeling like something that I had to do. Consistency has been a crucial part of this for me. I try to get out for a run at least 3 times a week.

SETTING SMALL GOALS 

The beginning stages of my runs were definitely challenging. Setting small goals, like running non-stop until I hit a certain point, helped so much. I then made it a goal to hit 2 miles, then 2.5, then 3 and so on. Once I accomplished this, I’d continue on with that specific goal for several runs before aiming for the next goal.

FOCUSING ON ENDURANCE, NOT SPEED 

This has been an important lesson for me. I’ve had runs where I started off really strong and fast, but by mile 2 my pace would decrease significantly and I felt like I couldn’t continue. I was burning myself out too quickly. Now I run at a slower, steady pace. Focus first on building up your endurance and over time your speed will improve.

CHANGING THE WAY I SPEAK TO MYSELF 

A big part of running is mental. We sometimes have a bad habit of speaking negatively to ourselves and creating this narrative in our minds where we start to believe that we can’t do something. I am so guilty of this and knew that changing my thoughts would have such a powerful impact on this experience. In the beginning I said things like, “I can’t do this. I’m so tired. I have to stop.” Now I say things like, “Keep it up. You got this. You can do it.”

INTERVAL TRAINING 

I didn’t get into interval training right away, but it’s helped me tremendously and I recommend doing it, especially when starting out. I do this within the SWEAT app and it has you run for 30 seconds non-stop and then recover for 30 seconds with a walk or jog. Continue doing this repeatedly for about 15-20 minutes. There are different interval running sessions that you can do. I recommend an online search to see which works best for you.

QUICK WALK BREAKS 

I’ve had people tell me not to stop during my runs and instead slow down when I have to, but taking quick walk breaks when needed has actually helped me a lot. I try not to take too many and when I do they only last for about a minute or so. In the beginning, I’d take them after each mile and it gave me a brief moment to reset. I’ve had a few runs where I didn’t need to stop at all and other times I had to stop several times. Don’t beat yourself up if you need the break! It can actually be beneficial for you.

ADDING ONE LONGER RUN EACH WEEK

Once I worked my way up to a steady 3 miles, I made it a goal to run that distance each time. Every week though, I like to do one longer run of about 4-5 miles. So far, 5 miles has been my longest distance. I’m so close to 10K and that is definitely the next goal I want to work towards.

A RUNNING BUDDY

I run alone all the time now, but in the beginning it helped to have someone to run with. I feed off of other people’s energy, so it always seemed to motivate me more and help me stay focused on my runs. This also helps if you don’t feel very comfortable or confident to run alone just yet.

NOT HOLDING MY PHONE 

For the first couple of months, I held my phone when running because I had nowhere else to put it. This actually became a huge distraction for me as I constantly checked to see my pace and distance. My friend got me an arm band that holds my phone and it’s been a game changer!

MY RUNNING INTENTIONS

I used to workout with the sole intention to lose weight and because of that I put all this unnecessary pressure on myself. Things have shifted so much for me since then including my intentions. I now run and workout to help my anxiety and mental health. It makes me feel so damn good and because of that it’s something I actually look forward to now.

A few other things…

RUNNING APPS

I personally use Nike Run Club and absolutely love it. It keeps track of all your runs, progress and achievements. I’ve also heard of Strava, Runcoach and Map My Run by Under Armour. I’m sure there’s other ones too!

RUNNING SNEAKERS 

EDIT: I was wearing Nike Downshifter and they recently ripped by my toes. I should note that I got these about a year ago before I ever started to run because I used to wear them for workouts at Rumble. I recently went to a running store here in NY and learned a TON about running shoes. They had me run on a treadmill and recorded a close up video of my feet. I am a heel dropper and my right foot turns inward while I run. The type of shoe you get is dependent on the type of runner that you are. They also recommend always wearing a half size up for extra room by the toes. The brands they had me try on were New Balance, On Cloud, Brooks & HOKA. Brooks and HOKA were my favorite and I’ll be deciding which pair to get soon!

MY RUNNING SCHEDULE 

I run 3-4 times a week. My running days are Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays and Sundays. I always go in the morning as this is what works best for me. I know that if I wait too long in the day I will lose the energy and motivation. Also, starting my days with a run sets a good tone for the rest of the day. On the other days of the week, I do workouts in the SWEAT app. Mixing in strength training has helped to improve my runs too.

It’s important to remember that every run is going to look different. I’ve had some amazing days and others that have really challenged me. I used to get frustrated, but quickly realized that it’s completely normal. Listen to your body and pay attention to your energy. I also want to note that I always run with a mask, but it’s just a regular one. I need to get an actual running mask ASAP. Any brands you recommend?

I tried to include as much as I could in this post. There are so many articles about running out there that can definitely give you more tips if needed. If running is something that you have been thinking about doing, then go for it! Don’t allow yourself to overthink it too much. The best thing that you can do is to start. As time passes you will get better and stronger. Give yourself grace and patience and go at your own pace. Don’t forget to hydrate and stretch. Good luck and I look forward to sharing more with you as I get further along on my journey!

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