What I’ve Learned From Fifteen Years Of Running

As I enjoy the rolling hills and pretty scenery of the GW Parkway Classic 10 miler this weekend, I will be reflecting on what I’ve learned from fifteen years of running. 15 years. I know some of my friends started running in high school–or even earlier–but I hated running in high school. As a senior, I was forced to join the cross-country team because I couldn’t fit P.E. into my schedule and our cotton gym shorts did not treat my thighs kindly.

Fifteen Years Of Running

My bib from the 2001 GWPC 5k 

Avoiding cotton isn’t the only thing I’ve learned in fifteen years of running, although it could be the most important. Since I’m linking up with Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia, I’ll share the top five lessons I’d like to pass on to new runners.

Five Lessons From Fifteen Years Of Running

1. Training runs do not need to be at your target race pace. I started running to help maintain my weight loss and treated it like any other exercise. If I can do a 45 minutes aerobics class, I can run for 45 minutes, right? If I want to complete a 10 miler in 90 minutes, shouldn’t all of my runs be at a 9 minute/mile pace? I didn’t know about couch-to-5k programs, or that long runs were supposed to be long slow runs, and ran myself right into an ITB injury that sent me limping to a chiropractor. I am still trying to figure out how to train smart and avoid injury, but at least I know that I need to build up to longer distances and faster paces.

2. Strength training is key to healthy running. I endured several injuries before I learned to make strength training a regular part of my schedule. Now I enjoy strength training in its own right, but it wasn’t always that way. Even now, on days that I don’t wanna, I remember my ITB, and my piriformis, and do at least some of the exercises that help keep me injury-free.

3. Good running shoes are essential. I didn’t know anything about running shoes when I started running, and think it took another injury–plantar fasciitis–for me to learn how important the right pair of running shoes can be. Luckily I have a great local running store that helped me figure out which shoes work best for me, although I am still tempted to try new styles that others are raving about.

4. Compression shorts don’t ride up. When I started running in 2001, it didn’t take me long to discover Body Glide, but since then I’ve found that compression shorts do an even better job of keeping my thighs safe from each other. I have a few running skirts that work fine for shorter runs, but compression shorts are a safer bet for longer runs and races. Speaking of compression, did you see my review of Physiclo compression tights with built-in resistance training?

5. Crappy runs happen. As much as I love running, I admit that running can be frustrating. I expect every run to be as good or better than the last one, but crappy runs happen. Runs when my legs feel like lead the whole way. Runs when my breathing is hard even when my pace is slow. Runs when my pace is a minute slower than it “should” be and I can’t blame it on my Garmin. One of my friends dubbed those runs “character-building runs,” and she’s right. Accepting that crappy runs happen, pushing through them, and then moving past them and lacing up my running shoes again another day have made me a better runner–if not a better person. I even wrote a poem about it.

What lessons did you have to learn about running?

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14 Responses to What I’ve Learned From Fifteen Years Of Running

  1. I prefer the combo of compression shorts under skirts. I get the benefit of my shorts staying in place without the look of compression shorts. I’m just not a fan of how I look in them.

    And yeah, everyone has a crappy run now and again. Makes the good runs better.
    MCM Mama Runs recently posted…Five Ways Runners Can Celebrate Earth DayMy Profile

  2. I completely agree especially #1 and #5 are things my trainer and I talk about all the time. Good list!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…The Fit Foodie Race Weekend is Coming-Run with me GiveawayMy Profile

  3. This is great! I just read in a magazine yesterday an article that some one wrote about what they learned in their 20 yrs of running and #20 was “if you wait to use the port o potty until you REALLY have to go, then you waited too long”. It was pretty humorous but had some truth to it! Have a good weekend.

  4. Chaitali says:

    Wow, 15 years is very impressive! These are great lessons. I definitely am working on absorbing the one about easy paces.
    Chaitali recently posted…Friday Five – PhotosMy Profile

  5. Rachel says:

    Amen, sister! I can relate to all of these. 🙂 Except the compression shorts one. Haven’t gone down that road yet.
    Rachel recently posted…5 Reasons Spring Running is the Best [Friday Five]My Profile

  6. I definitely learned how to train smarter! I mean, I feel like I learn something new every week about training and I have been running for over 10 years now.

    However, I do like doing race pace runs. Obviously not every run should be at race pace- I’d be injured in no time if I did that!
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…5 Things About My Race Tomorrow (Friday 5!)My Profile

  7. Fully agree with all of this, except the compression shorts… only because I haven’t tried them, afraid they would ride up. LOL. Guess I need to get a pair.

    ps : I only started running 10 years ago and HATED it in junior high and high school. I did cross country one year and still remember the awful shin splints that lasted all season…
    Karen – Fit in France recently posted…Life adjustments while marathon trainingMy Profile

  8. Ana says:

    Compression shorts are savers! I was afraid of buying a pair, but after I did, I regretted waiting so long! Thanks for the tips!
    Ana recently posted…Friday Five – My Five Gettysburg Marathon GoalsMy Profile

  9. These are some excellent lessons! Yay to 15 years! And it was so nice to run into you on the streets of Chicago last week 🙂
    courtney @ eat pray run dc recently posted…Five Best Things About Work TravelMy Profile

  10. Crystal says:

    So much! It’s crazy how much we grow as runners as times goes on. I’ve only been running for about 5 years but I feel my whole outlook on running has changed.
    Great list!
    Crystal recently posted…Run for it: Blackfalds to LacombeMy Profile

  11. Running has taught me so many lessons too! I’m now learning about the benefits of compression shorts since I’ve had chafing issues with shorts in the past! And when I first started running, I too used to always run at the same pace.
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…Goals for the Broad Street RunMy Profile

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