What to Expect When you Start Running
What happens when I start running?
Why would anyone want to start running?
I only run if someone is chasing me.
I hate DRIVING 26 miles!
Running is bad for your knees.
I like my sleep.
I heard runners sometimes poop their pants.
These are all things I have heard from my non-runner friends. I get it…runners are a little crazy. Not everyone enjoys reading books about running, running while listening to podcasts about running, or planning vacations around a marathon. We put ourselves through months of training. We get up early on the weekends when everyone else is sleeping. We forgo late nights, dairy, and happy hour (sometimes). We pay to run on public streets. We train for races that we have no chance of winning. But, there is something about running that keeps us coming back.
You are here because you are thinking about joining us crazy runners, and you want to know what you can expect when you start running. I want to let you in on a little insider information, so you are not caught off guard in the coming months when you begin to run consistently. It’s true, running sucks sometimes, and it’s not always fun, especially in the beginning. Here is a rundown of what you can expect your first day, week, month, and year of running.
What can I expect the first day I run?
Depending on your fitness level, you will probably have to walk a lot, and that is okay. Your body isn’t used to the demands of running. You will be out of breath. You might feel a little awkward. You haven’t developed your ideal running stride, and your body is not yet efficient at running. Your skin might itch as you begin to sweat. You might be in the wrong running shoes. All of this is completely normal. Run as much as you can, walk when you can no longer run. Run for time, not distance. Tell yourself that you will go out for 20 minutes. Run and walk those 20 minutes to the best of your current ability, noting how far you got (you can use a tracking app like Strava, or a GPS watch). In the coming days, you will notice that you are able to cover more distance in those 20 minutes because you are able to run more and more each day.
What can I expect the first week of running?
Soreness. Tiredness. Tight muscles. Shin splints. I’m not going to lie, you will be sore. Your body isn’t used to consistent running. It takes time to build up your running muscles, bones, and cardiovascular fitness. Shin splints are common among new runners. Getting proper running shoes can help. It might be difficult for you to walk down stairs, because your quads are on fire. Sleeping might be a little difficult too, depending on how sore your muscles are. And you will have laundry..lots of stinky laundry. It is in this first week that you will feel like giving up, DO NOT GIVE UP! Running gets easier the more you do it. You won’t always be this sore.
What can I expect the first month of running?
You’ve made it over the initial shock to your body, though you still might get sore after a particularly tough or longer run. You’ve spent the month juggling your schedule, trying to fit running into an already packed day. You also know what time of day your body reacts best to running. I love running after work. It clears my head and washes the work stress away, while my friend enjoys getting it done first thing in the morning. You have probably gone out and bought new running clothes, realizing that a good fitting pair of shorts is worth the price tag. You can probably run the entire 20 minutes now, and may even be thinking about lengthening your running time, switching to distance instead of time. You’re starting to see the positive effects of running and you are happy you stuck it out!
What can I expect the first year of running?
You’re a badass! You have gone from non runner to someone who can run 4, 5, 6, 7…miles without stopping. You are probably thinking about signing up for a race, maybe even a half marathon. You mastered the art of juggling your schedule to fit runs in. You even look forward to running and feel weird if a couple of days have gone by without a run. Maybe you are inspiring friends and family to run with you, enriching the lives of others through running. You have realized that if you let sweaty clothes sit, they never smell right again. You also have some pretty cool tan lines!
This is a brief rundown of your first year as a runner. No matter what happens, you are not alone in this journey. Reach out to me and others in the running community. Chances are, if you are experiencing it, someone else has too.