I remember when I started running eleven years ago, I was totally clueless. Now, 11 years, three marathons and countless half marathons later, I have a lot more knowledge and experience. What do I wish I knew 11 years ago as a new runner?

Here are 10 things that new runners need to know.

  1. Get the right shoes. I’m pretty sure I started running in cross-training shoes. I didn’t know any better. Then I went to a random store and picked some random running shoes off the rack, probably because I liked the color. If I could go back in time, I would have started out going to a running store and getting fitted. A good running store can see the way your foot hits the ground and match you in the right size, potentially saving you from injury.
  2. Cotton is not your friend. Clothing designed to wick sweat and breathe can make a huge difference in the success or failure of your running on any given day.
  3. Body Glide is your friend. New runners, listen up. There’s this magical substance called Body Glide. It looks like a stick of deodorant, and it will seriously save your life. Or your nipples/legs/shoulders/bra line/arm – wherever you have an article of clothing or skin rubbing against skin.
  4. It’s okay to go commando. Ladies, I’m not saying you have to go commando, but there are a few do’s and don’ts to the undergarment situation. It’s important to avoid thongs, seams, and fancy, silky underwear that doesn’t breathe. If you’re wearing underwear, make sure it’s an exercise material or designed for running. You’ll thank me later.
  5. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Don’t shy away from water, especially on those longer runs. It’s a great idea to start drinking before your run begins to keep your body in tip-top shape.
  6. Don’t be afraid to take the leap. Don’t think you can run a 5K, let alone a half marathon? Think again! Finishing a distance is half your head, and half your body. Don’t psyche yourself out before you get to the starting line. If you believe in YOU, anything is possible.
  7. Training plans can get you to the finish line feeling strong. You don’t need to run every day, and you don’t need to run the race distance multiple times (or perhaps ever) before race day. Find a training plan that builds your mileage and endurance, and your body will adapt as you condition it to running.
  8. Get there early. On your very first race day, get there early. As a new runner, you’ll learn that runners are early birds who sacrifice sleep for a decent parking spot and shorter porta-potty lines and don’t mind waiting around in the corral for the start. It’s better to be there early than to be stressed and dashing to the starting line as the starting gun goes off. Believe me, I’ve been there. And if you’re early, you can really soak up all that your first race experience has to offer.
  9. Pay attention to your surroundings. During training runs, it’s wise to avoid headphones altogether, or only wear one earbud so that you’re aware of cars, cyclists and other people approaching. And during a race, being aware of your surroundings extends to not stopping short to walk (there are runners right behind you!), and not running several runners abreast and blocking the course.
  10.  Run your own race. It’s easy to compare yourself to others in a running group or at a race, but remember that everyone started somewhere! And every runner has a different journey and a different body. Don’t compare yourself to others – just run your own race and focus on your own goals.

Starting your running journey is an exciting time. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn from others. We were all new runners once! And even though I’ve been running 11 years, I am always learning and growing as a runner.

If you’re a new runner — what’s one thing you’d like to know about running?

If you’re an experienced runner —what’s one thing you wish you knew when you started running?

By Nichols