Ten Things Every New Runner Should Know
My Top Ten List
Of Things Every New Runner Should Know
Recently I was standing at the starting area for a race waiting in line for the port-a-potties and a young man walked past all of the people in line and headed straight for the door of one of the occupied port-a-potties. After realizing that all of the doors were locked and the port-a-potties were occupied he turned to realize that the mass of hundreds of people standing about ten feet in front the portable loo’s were all waiting in line. I heard him say “You mean all of these people are in line?!” One of the friendly runners gave him a quick lesson in pre-race bathroom etiquette and he made his way to the back of the line. This funny little experience made me think about all of the little things that I have learned about running over the years that many new runners may not know so I put together this list of useful and sometimes humorous tips for newbies to the sport. We welcome you and hope you enjoy the world of running as much as we do!
10.) Port-A-Potties – Okay so after the story I just shared I better get this one out of the way. As a runner you will get very familiar with port-a-potties. The combination of pre-race jitters and nerves, cool morning temps, and runners trying to stay hydrated means that there can never be enough bathrooms at the starting area of a race. Many runners even go through the line and relieve themselves and then get right back in line because they know that inevitably they will need to “go” again. Get used to this one because it will always be a part of running.
9.) Race Numbers Go On The Front – There aren’t very many things that will signal to everyone that you are a rookie faster than pinning your race number on your back. When running a race make sure to pin your race number on the front of your shirt or shorts. Triathlons and cycling races have different requirements for number placement but for runners it is always on the front.
8.) A Marathon Is Only A Race That Is 26.2 Miles Long - Races are named by their distances and so you should only call a race a marathon if it is a full 26.2 mile race. A 5K (5 kilometers) is 3.1 miles, A 10K is 6.2 miles, a Half marathon is half of a full marathon or 13.1 miles, an Ultramarathon is anything longer than 26.2 miles or some would call it “crazy.”
7.) Chip Timing – When you hear the word “chip” associated with running it usually refers to a timing chip that will keep your time for the race electronically. When you hear that a race is “chip timed” that means you will be wearing a small chip that will be pre-attached to your race number or that you will attach to your shoelaces or ankle that will keep track of your time electronically. These little babies have made race timing so much easier and more accurate.
6.) Common Acronyms – If you want to intelligently participate in a conversation with experienced runners then there are a few acronyms that you should know. There are some not on this list but this is a good start.
PR = Personal Record
PB = Personal Best
BQ = Boston Qualifier meaning that you ran a time that qualifies you to run the Boston marathon in an approved race.
LSD = Long Slow Distance – which is your weekly long run to help you build up your distance and endurance.
DOR = Day of Race
DNF = Did Not Finish – You will see this in race results if the person didn’t finish the race.
DNS = Did Not Start – Someone who registerd but did not run the race.
SI = Speed Intervals
XT = Cross Train
5.) How far and how fast should I run in training? - This really depends on your starting point. Don’t start too fast or you risk injury so just do what you are capable of doing. If you need to start with a walk/run program or even just a walking program then that is fine. I have posted some good beginner programs here. The biggest thing to remember here is simply that you want to improve each week so follow the 10% rule and increase your mileage slowly by about 10% per week. Your running pace should be hard enough to get results but you should not be at an all out effort on every run. During most of your runs you should obviously be a little out of breath but should still be able to carry on a pretty good conversation while you run.
4.) Do I need new running shoes and how long should they last?- I recommend that every new runner should immediately visit a specialty running store and let the professionals there help you pick the right shoes for you. Every person runs differently and each different model of running shoes is made for a specific style of running. The wrong running shoes or shoes that are too worn out are some of the biggest causes of injury to runners. Your running shoes should last you anywhere from about 300-500 miles and then should be replaced. Heavier runners should replace their shoes more often than lighter runners. You can increase the mileage a little by taking good care of your shoes, and by alternating two pairs of running shoes. Store your shoes in a cool dry place, not in a hot car or other extreme environments. If you wash the shoes or if the shoes get wet then take the soles out and let the shoes dry completely before putting the soles back in. Don’t dry the shoes in front of a heater or in a clothes dryer.
3.) Don”t Overdress – One common mistake that I see with new runners is wearing too much and overheating. When choosing the clothes that you will wear for your run you should choose clothing that you would wear to walk around if the weather were about 20 degrees warmer. This means that if it is 40 degrees outside then you should dress as if it were about 60 degrees. You don’t want to be cold but the chances are a lot better that you will be hot once you get running. Also when running races unless you absolutely need to I don’t recommend carrying water or Gatorade with you. You definitely want to stay hydrated but the water stations provided by the race are there for a reason and will help you avoid carrying more weight and being uncomfortable.
2.) Shin Splints – Shin splints, or tibial stress syndrome, is probably one of the most common complaints among new runners. Shin splints can be caused by several differnt things. The most common causes are inflamed and irritated muscles often due to increased usage, stress fractures, and “flat feet” which causes stretching of the muscles and tendons. The best way to deal with shin splints is to avoid getting them in the first place. Start out slowly and if you start feeling abnormal shin pain then stop your run and take it easy. Stretch and warm up thoroughly before your run and do exercises to strengthen the muscles on the front of your shins. Running on soft surfaces especially when starting a new running program can help avoid shin splints as well. If you do develop shin splints then take time off to rest your legs, ice them and consider anti inflammatory medication to minimize inflammation. If you have “flat feet” then you may also consult with a physician about the need for arch supports.
1.) Running Can Be and Should Be Fun – This is probably the biggest misconception about running that there is. Running is not torture. I do understand that during the first few months it is very hard and not always fun but stick with it. Do things to make your running more fun such as running with a group and running on trails or in new places. Recruit friends or family to run with you. So many people will say to me “how do you do that?” when they find out that I run long distances. The truth is that I choose to do it because I love it. On my day off the other day I ran 3 miles, biked 15 miles and swam about a mile and when my wife got home and asked me what I had accomplished she said very seriously, “Oh…. so you had a day of leisure.” She knows me too well.
For all you runners out there please add any other tips that you can think of to help out those just getting started or if you are a new runner then let us know about any questions you have. You can also check out my other post with Tips for Beginning Runners here.
Keep Running Through Life!