Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When Fools Rush In - New Runners - Unicorns and Popsicles

First things first:
  1. Today is supposed to be the day I find out if my blog made the top 6 fitness/health blogs in Houston, but as of right now I cannot find if I did, and if so where you go vote!  I know its on CBS Local so if anyone can find the listing and let me know as well that would be great!  Right now the site is just overloaded with Houston Texans stuff from the game last night.  Yay Texans won!  We went, it was fun, we didnt grill out at tailgate because well it was over 100 deg and who wants to do that?  Not.  Us.  We did all bring snackey snacks and the best part of that was the yumolicious Mexican bleu cheese...so salty and so good!!! 
  2. Have you entered to win the Yurbuds and the SmartID's yet?  No?  Go!  You can get an extra entry TODAY if you blog the information on your blog, Facebook or Twitter (must contain the link!)  Just leave an additional comment that you did.  One entry only, not 1 for each!  LOL!
  3. Since I wrote the little piece re: marathons and time, I lost 2 followers.  This makes me sad!  I hope that the pieces from the Today Show or any of my or others comments didnt make you decide to not follow anymore!  As I had stated in the piece, I sure couldnt do it.  Walk a long distance race.  
    1. I suspect that if there ever comes a time where I can no longer run the majority of any long distance race, whether that is straight running or by run/walking due to age or long term injury, then that will be the end of that for me!  Thinking seriously about it, I suppose my cut off to walk would be at the most, a 10K.  Mentally I just dont think I could handle it!  So kudos to all of those that do!
    2. In response to those that left comments, kudos to you, those that have supported others and to those that train!  I have been at the Finish line for a friend that was struggling.  The year was 2007, and I had just done my first marathon here in Houston.  He was doing his first as well.  The cut off time was (and still is) 6 hours.  He finished it over 7 hours (I cant remember now the exact time).  But it was warm that day.  The streets had all been reopened and there were no more water stops.  They had dumped ice from the stops on the side of the roads and thats where he got fluid from.  Ice that had been discarded.  There was no more finish line or time clock. The convention center had locked up and 99% of the volunteers had gone home.  One of my other friends that was there with us, waiting, heard that he had made it to downtown (which meant about a mile to go) and so he ran off to meet him (in sandals) and to run him in.  Remembering it now, I have tears in my eyes.  He finished the marathon that day, and one of my other friends banged and banged and yelled and yelled outside that convention center door until someone opened it up and we got him a medal.  So yes, it is something to behold and special to be a part of Lesley.  Clearly I havent forgotten, nor will I ever.

Every year somewhere around the 2nd week of August something strange happens.  Actually two things happen:

Fools Rush In
  1. L's L becomes even more crazy, more busy and more mind-numbing than all of the other weeks of the year put together (not counting the week before the actual race day of the Houston Marathon).  Seriously, with Houston being such a huge running town to begin with, the store is just jam packed every single weekend.  So much so that I am still constantly dumb founded by the sheer number of people that come in to buy shoes, clothes, nutrition etc.  All of the running/training groups around town (and there are a lot of them, 2 big ones: Houston and surrounding USAFit groups and Kenyan Way), basically start up their 'training' for Houston at this time.  Therefore in addition to the orientation nights, they have their own meetings and they send people to the store.  The new people.  The people that know nothing of gps watches, shoes, nutrition, hydration, clothing...and that is perfectly ok!  Thats why we are there and one of the main reasons I still work part time at L's L.  Because I like to help runners!    Now on to the 2nd part...
  2. The same folks above, the new people, show up at the 1st day of training (typically the first 'long' run) with pie in the sky dreams and see nothing but rainbow'd unicorns and fluffy kittens.  For the most part, if I was a betting girl, there is probably a few of the newbies MIGHT have ran a few short distance fun runs, a couple more MIGHT have done a half marathon, but the majority I am willing to bet never really have run farther than 3 miles casually at the park with their friend who was basically looking to be looking at the 'scenery'.  They show up in the tech shirts given to them at orientation (rookie mistake), and they look around kind of odd and some of us that are already sweating profusely because regardless if we are training for a race, we run before the run.  Some will have their hair done, others will have make up on and then there are the ones that know nothing of pace and distance and how to handle that, so they line up along the fenceline with the pace group that will more than likely eat their lunch before they reach half the distance of that days route.
Now I love love love new runners!  However, there is a madness that sometimes needs to be quieted just a bit, so if you know a new runner, reach out to them and give them a bit of advice.  It will help them in the long run (no pun intended).  Its just that the majority of them way over spend and way over estimate their ability, and what I generally see happen:  a) things get brought back to the store and b) by about 6-8 weeks into training, the crowd is lighter and lighter at the start of the group runs on Saturdays.

Its very easy to get burned out (or injured!) because a new runners expectations are just too high.  No matter how many times you tell them, the goal should be to finish and to be in an upright position at the end of it, they put time goals (which is ok but be realistic and set a, b and c goals!) or they compare themselves to other runners or think they can 'run with the big boys and girls' and they just cant and defeat is a horrible thing to accept.  Its so important for new runners to not set themselves up for failure at the crack of the gun!

I always suggest starting one pace group slower than what you think you are, and if you are indeed able to keep up and maybe actually exceed that, then slowly catch up to the next pace group and you end up negative splitting!!!   Since there arent any pace leaders (at KW there are not I should say), the pace groups for the most part are usually spread out because you will always have those that run faster than training pace, those that run training pace and then those that are running slower than training pace due to just being a bad day or just wanting to go in that pace group for whatever reason. 

When it comes to what you need to start the training process?  Well thats simple.  You need to be fitted for shoes, some type of shorts/shirt that is 'dri-fit' (maybe a couple of these; you dont want to stink every day!)and if your group doesnt provide fluids then you need hydration system of some sort.   You dont need nutrition at this point.  You dont need a gps.  You dont need a heart monitor.  You don't need compression socks, compression sleeves or compression whatever.  In time, should a new runner continue on, then one can add slowly etc. 

People say that the people that say running is cheap exercise are wrong, are the ones that are wrong.

Running is cheap exercise!  People make it expensive because of all of the pretty colors and beeping alarmy things out there for us to choose from!  Thinking back I remember that I had a FuelBelt and I had some shorts/shirts and that was it.  My first Garmin was a 110 and it required AAA batteries and it wasnt very reliable but its all I needed at the time, not knowing if I would continue running after my first half marathon (which was my only goal at the time; I never intended to do a full marathon 3 months later).  However once you do figure out that its going to be an ongoing thing, really the only thing you continually have to replace are the shoes.  Must replace those shoes to avoid injury!!!

Remember that running is and should be about the health of it.  The joy of it.  It doesnt have to be all about marking something off of a bucket list (one of my pet peeves), or about traveling the world to the do the majors, or to run a race in every State.  I don't have a lot of expendable income anymore, but I do like to go and do races with my friends that are some of the bigger ones, but if I couldnt do that, I would be ok with it.  I space them out, and I budget.

Lately, a lot of the time...I can be sitting in the house, just zoning out in front of the tv...8, 9pm...or sometimes at work and I wish I could just go run a mile.  Maybe 2.  I think about that a lot actually.  Sometimes I just want to run.  Not far, but just run.

Is that what separates a real runner from a bucket list runner?  I don't know...but now, in writing all of this I have given myself something else to think about...

So ... What do you think?  Is a real runner someone who just loves to run with no time, distance or race goals?  Or is someone who trains and completes one marathon a runner as well?  Are you a new runner?  Do you have anyone helping you?  Or are you going at it alone?  Or are you someone already helping someone?  Whats the one piece of advice you would give a new runner?


Jamoosh said...

My advice is: Don't spend a dime until you hit five miles. You will know and understand when you need something - new shoes, hydration device, etc.

Cassie said...


There you are! :)

Kellie said...

Great post! I'd tell them to take it slow and easy until their body starts getting acclimated to the entirety of it - whether that be the outside heat of Houston or the pounding of the pavement on their bodies.

Neeraj Rohilla said...

The moment we differentiate using the words like "Real runners" we are asking for trouble and it is a slippery slope. Real runner according to whom? For 10-11 min/mile people, 15 min/milers are not real runners. For a 6 min/mile person anyone running slower than 9 min/mile are not runners at all forget real, and the list can go on and on.

For me, anyone who doesn't belittle/complain too much about other runners is a true REAL runner. I have seen sub 3 folks jogging easy with a new runner and chatting with them. And, I have seen 2:30 half marathoners with such negativity towards other slower runners that it makes me wonder.

At, the end of day a real runner is a person who just runs/jogs and their goals/motivation doesn't matter. Everything else is just blah blah blah...

Lesley @ racingitoff.com said...

Your posts always make me feel the need to comment! (This is a good thing... means I'm thinking and not just scrolling.) First, I trained for my first half-marathon with a Timex (just ran by time). I also wore COTTON, yes cotton. I did get some dri-fit right before the race, but while cotton can suck, I still survived just fine. BUT if newbies want to buy stuff, and they can afford it... then go for it... if it makes them feel good or it makes them really feel like a runner, then I find they are more motivated to act the part.

I seem to have the opposite problem with the girls I coach than what you see at the store... they tend to underestimate themselves. They'll ask me for a 10k, and I'll get them to a half instead. Maybe that's an advantage of one-on-one vs. group...

runlikehil said...

I'm a new runner and feel overwhelmed with all of the information out there!
My main goal is to just finish- no time/pace goal or anything because that is uncharted territory for me. What happens on race day is beyond my control and all I can do is prepare to the best of my ability. But now that I've run for a few months and I'm improving every week, it easy to get ahead of myself. I'm excited and motivated and want to tackle everything RIGHT now.

Right now, no one is really helping me in regards to being a new runner. I run with USAFit but I run in a big group. I love any and all tips/advice from seasoned runners.

saroy said...

I agree with Neeraj. The term "real runner" always gets under my skin because it's SO subjective. A runner is someone who runs. Doesn't matter why or how. :)