Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gear for New Runners

I told you a while back that I'm one of the many mentors for a new runners group called No Boundaries....

We had our kick off the other night and I'm telling you, it was so exciting.  There were about 200 new runners there, 120 or so in the Huntsville PM group (the one I'm helping out with).  The program is set up to take someone from non-runner status through their first 5K race.  Each person sets their own goal-walk, walk/run or run.  There were so many people who came to the registration table saying, "I don't know if I can do this, but I'm here to try."  I can't tell you the good feeling I have "knowing" they really can because they are trying, because they have taken that first step of saying, "this is something I want to do".

Speaking of new runners...I found a newbie's blog, "Running North"...and I love it.  She's moving from a self-professed hater of running to someone who recently ran her first full mile (and then did a couple more intervals afterwards for a 3+ mile run)!!!!  Her posts are beautifully written, not like the angst filled bathering on I did when I first started.  (Okay, and not like the bathering on I still do...)

If you read every post, as I did today, you'll see I made a comment on every single one!  I just couldn't help myself.  A couple of things came to mind as I was reading that I thought I should devote some of my words to today.

The very first thing you should do as a new runner is to get properly fitted for running shoes.  Do NOT lace up the shoes you've had in your closet for years that you bought to walk the dog.  Do NOT go to the mall and look for a cute pair of tennis shoes that are on sale.  Find a running specialty store, even if you have to travel an hour to get there if you live in the sticks.  Chances are, if you live that far away from "town", you have to go that far to get to the doctor: just consider it a preemptive measure to save MANY future trips to take care of the inevitable injury you'll get if you don't take this first trip.

TELL THEM you are a new runner and are there for your first pair.  You might think those are dollar signs flashing in their eyes, but hopefully that's just the sparkle runners get when they see someone taking that first step toward an addiction they are fully in the grasp of themselves!  Don't be skeptical, you are doing the right thing.  But...

The place you go to should, at the VERY LEAST, measure your foot and watch you run in some neutral shoes, before making suggestions.  I don't want to get too technical here, but depending on how your foot moves when you run, and how your foot is shaped, you will have different needs in terms of support.  It's very likely you could need inserts as well as shoes.  I'm not talking orthotics that you have to get from a doctor, although some people do find they have to go that route, most can just get a stock insert to add to the shoe.  Ideally the store will have a treadmill set up with a video camera that will allow them to slow the image down to show you exactly what is happening when you pound pavement (or trail).

If you have been running a good bit, take the shoes you've been wearing with you.  Also be sure to mention any pain you have when you run which can also be useful information in determining what kind of shoe you need.  The store should be able to show you several options.  More expensive is not necessarily better-try them all on if you have to.  Run around the store, or on their treadmill.  Good stores will have a generous return policy that will allow you to run in the shoes for at least a week or two to try them out.

WOMEN ONLY:  The next thing you need to get, most likely at the same place (since you didn't go to the local shoe store, but a running specialty store), is a properly fitted running bra.  Now, if you are like me and can almost get away with wearing band aids, it's not so critical (in my opinion), but if you have breasts larger than your average 12 year old girl, then you need proper support for your "girls".  Most women are wearing the wrong size every-day bra (if they haven't been fitted recently), so just going to The Bullseye Boutique and picking a sports bra off the self won't cut it.  Again, I'll resist the temptation to get too technical here, but breast are supported by Cooper's ligaments which can be irreparably damaged.  Get measured, get fitted, buy more than one, and take good care of them (the bras, as well as your "girls".)

And, finally (for today anyway)...don't forget proper moisture-wicking running socks.  Let me be clear--the blister pictured here was NOT the result of improper socks.  This runner is an experienced ultra runner who got this nice trophy after running 161.1 miles in four days.  It's just a nice graphic example of what could happen with improper socks.  NO COTTON.  They hold in moisture, they stretch, and they WILL certainly create friction.  Put enough miles in them and you WILL get a blister.

I have a favorite brand and, because I've had very good luck, I've been reluctant to try anything new.  But, I won't mention them here because I actually don't think they are the best sock out there....I think I've just gotten really lucky.  Find what works for you and don't be afraid to try out some different kinds until you discover your favorite.

To my darling husband:  I have a piece of gear I am going to want to buy before too long as I start training in earnest for Rocket City...a freezer.  Yes, a freezer.  See, the other day I tried to take an ice bath but even the full container from the ice maker didn't really make my bath water cold.  After today's Group Power beat down, I wanted to come home to a nice FULL bathtub of ice but knew I'd have to carry out at least 3 or 4 bags from the store-something I was not going to be able to do since I had trouble even lifting my PHONE to my ear after that class torture session.  If I had a freezer, I'd stock it full of ice for times such as this.

So, honey, when I ask you if you read my blog today and you say yes...and when I say, "so can I go buy that gear I talked about needing" and you say sure....don't ask me why Lowe's is at the door saying our freezer is in!!  ...Trust me, buying a freezer would be a lot cheaper in the long run than buying ice after every long run, or "Elizabeth* beat down" class, I'll ever do!  (*She's the dominatrix that lead the Group Power class today, as well as the leader of Extreme Abs.)

Thanks for stopping, come again soon!


  1. Thanks so much for the shout out! Got the shoes already. Will look into the sportsbra (bandaids didn't cut it for me even when i was 12 lol) Socks are on my list for when I am in town tomorrow. I realy enjoy your blog!

  2. Love all the great information.

    I will wear my bra while running from NOW on! :)


Don't hold back, tell it like it is....