Five for Friday: Things I’ve Learned From Running

18 Mar

Since I started offering running “advice” on the Couch to 5K Facebook page, I’ve gotten a lot of emails from new runners asking tons of questions about things I have totally forgotten I’ve learned from running. It’s been a really hard three years of training for 5ks, half-marathons, and a full marathon, but I’ve learned a lot!

1. Never wear anything new on race day, and eat the same pre-race meal every time. The worst thing to happen to a runner, in my opinion, is to get the dreaded “trots”, so it’s not too smart to experiment with new foods on race day. I always have plain white bread with peanut butter and sometimes a banana.

When I was in Chicago for the Healthy Living SummitRebecca Scritchfield and Heather Calcote shared some excellent fueling advice with us.

  • In order to fuel properly, eat low fiber carbs (white bread), fruits, oatmeal, fig newtons, pb crackers
  • Do not fuel with dairy or juice (I learned this the hard way!)
  • Avoid too much caffeine before working out
  • Post work-out fuel should be carbs and proteins (smoothies, drinkable yogurts, thick crust pizza)

Endurance Athletes should fuel with the following:

  • A high-carb, moderate protein, and low fat meal and 16 ounces of water 1-2 hours before workout.
  • 1 cup water/sports drink 15 minutes before workout along with simple carbs (gummies)
  • Drink 2-4 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes
  • Recovery nutrition as soon as tolerated
  • Meal or snack within 1 hour after workout

2. Chocolate milk is the best recovery drink. I especially love Muscle Milk. Drinking one of these after a long run helps me recover so fast! I’m usually back to normal the very next day!

3. Get fitted for shoes! I know there’s some controversy on the Couch to 5K facebook page about this, but I strongly encourage all runners to get fitted for their shoes.

I see so many people asking “what kinds of shoes do you wear?” It shouldn’t matter what someone else wears. Everyone’s feet are different. My shoes may not fit someone else. And I’ll be the first one to tell you how much it hurts to wear the wrong shoes! I even had to get x-rays on my feet because I thought I broke my foot by running in the wrong shoes for 16 miles. Never think that the newer model of the shoe you have been wearing will fit the same way. My Asics Gel Nimbus 11s fit completely different than the 12s. A waste of $120!

4. Do not ever quit the sport because of one disappointing race. I know what it’s like to have a really awful race and feel the dread whenever someone asks you what your time was. Have you read about my WDW Marathon?

It took me almost seven hours to complete 26.2 miles. I was heartbroken. I know I’m not a fast runner, and I know I wasn’t going to run the whole thing, but I was still sad, nonetheless. Do not ever let one race stop you from moving on and improving! After that marathon, I started right back at the beginning again with Couch to 5K, and I’m now running faster than I ever have!

Someone recently said on the Couch to 5K Facebook page “I don’t think I’m going to wear my number for the official race…don’t want my name in the paper with my snail’s pace time. LOL”  My response to her was “wear your number and wear it proud! All of those people reading the paper.. did they get up early and run that race? Did they even set out to start this program?!?! NO! Be proud of running that race!”

The one thing that brought  me out of my depression from that marathon is that I had to remember that I don’t know too many people who have even thought about running a marathon. I did something some people don’t even finish, and something so many people don’t even start.

I know it’s cliche, but if I can do it, anyone can.

5. No matter how out of shape or overweight you think you are, and no matter how slow you think you are, there will always be someone who would die to have your body or wishes they could run as fast as you! I realized this after having a talk with one of my friends who I had lost touch with since high school. I was telling her that I couldn’t believe how much weight I had gained. She said to me “Andrea, you are a beautiful girl. I’d kill to have your body.” I looked in the mirror and thought to myself “what is wrong with me!?” I’m a marathoner. No one, especially myself, can call me fat.

And when I hear someone say “Oh, I ran a 13 minute mile, but…” There is NO “but”. You’re a runner, no matter what your pace is!


Running teaches me something every time I put on my sneakers and set out to accomplish something new. Be prepared for more of my “lessons I’ve learned from running” posts. I have a lot more!


8 Responses to “Five for Friday: Things I’ve Learned From Running”

  1. Jennifer@ knackfornutrition March 18, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    I love #5. I have those types of thoughts all the time and it kills me. I hate that I beat up on myself. I need to remember that just because I don’t run 8 min/miles does not mean I am not a runner!

  2. Andrea March 18, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Great post!

    This: “I had to remember that I don’t know too many people who have even thought about running a marathon” is so true. My Dad refers to any race I do as “my marathons”. I’ve been beating myself up a bit about not working out this morning so I’ll end up with 5 work outs this week instead of 6. But that’s 5 more work outs than most people do in a month!

    All of your Disney related marathon recaps inspire me!

  3. Sonja Noskowiak March 18, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    I truly enjoyed your article on the things you’ve learned from running. I am doing the C25K program for the 3rd time in my life. I am on W6D3 now. On my Wk5D3 I was so worried that I might not be able to make it through the run that I paced myself at a very slow place. It took me 27 minutes to run that 2 miles. But.. afterwrds, I said… you know, at least I CAN run 27 minutes. So I’m just trying to finish, that’s the important part. I’ll work on the speed later. So enjoying running again.

    I can’t imagine running a marathon.. the most I’ve run is 6 miles at a time. It was incredible, so I can only imagine what even a 1/2 marathon would be. I’ll never be fast either…. I’ll always be an endurance runner.

    Thanks again for the article. I’ve just subscribed so I can read more as you post.


  4. Dawn C. March 18, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    I remarked this week that I was intimidated by all the “real runners” that I passed the last time I ran. Someone reminded me that the minute I started CT5K, that I was a real runner too! Thanks for for your post, it just reiterated that fact!

  5. Steve V. March 18, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    All great advice, Andrea! I really enjoy your blog and find a lot of inspiration in your words – keep up the good work! Let’s go for a run together sometime!

  6. Hollie @ Lolzthatswim(andRun) March 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    I love the advice of not having something different before a race. I have been eating the same prerace meal for the last year. It has propelled me through so many races. Sweet tater pancakes!

  7. Emily March 18, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    I love #5 – I have such a hard time calling myself a “runner” because I am so slow. Great advice!!

  8. Brittney March 29, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    Late comment here, but great post! I totally agree them all, and especially think 4 and 5 are important to keep in mind. One thing I love about running, is I feel like I’m really just competing against myself. It’s no one else’s run or race, just mine. I like that about running 🙂

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