5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running

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Hindsight is 20/20. As I look back on the nearly 14 years that I’ve been running, I want to change a lot of my past training. I’ve made a lot of mistakes – small decisions that resulted in an injury, a poor race, or missing half a year of running.

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Female runner wearing a pink long sleeved shirt and black capris.

Fortunately most of those mistakes can be avoided, which is why I’m sharing them here so that you can learn from my mistakes and hopefully avoid the problems that I’ve had to face.

5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running

1. Success in Distance Running Takes Time

It takes 2-3 years of training to really reach your potential. You learn to race a specific distance by racing it. To really understand what works and doesn’t work in marathon means you have to train for, and race a few marathons. Distance running success is about consistency and a gradual, yet progressive, pattern of training.

Another problem I’ve faced is going from 20 miles per week to 40 miles per week in a few months. I of course got injured.  Be patient and recognize that modest increases in mileage done over a long period of time will have you running fast over the long-term. There are no shortcuts.

2. Runners Don’t Just Run

I used to think that I had to only run to be fast.  I ran and ran and ran.  I never did any core work, or speed work, or hill work and avoided weights entirely. Huge mistake!

Having the strength to run with proper form is crucial to running success.  Here are a few articles to help you out:

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3. Do the Little Things

Doing all the little things matter. Ice when you need it, take a nap after a workout, eat healthy, get enough sleep and listen to all of those small aches and pains before they become big aches.  Go buy a foam rollerir?t=moonthru 20&l=ur2&o=1 - In this post I share with you some injury prevention tips and the 5 things I wish I knew when I started running., follow (and stick to) a training plan.

4. Form Matters. Work on it.

Every sport relies on heavily on proper form and technique.  Running is no different.  Running is a skill, like any other athletic movement and needs to be done efficiently to run fast and prevent injuries.  

5. Get Off the Roads

Road running is awesome but there’s something to be said about changing things up every once in a while.  With a softer surface you recover sooner from hard workouts and the varied terrain helps build coordination, balance and stabilizing muscles.  Plus, trail running is FUN!

A gravel trail with trees lining the trail in the fall.

In summary: a) be patient b) strength train c) listen to your body d) work on your form and e) hit the woods and trails.


What do you wish you had known when you started running?

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  1. Yes! Great post. One thing I wish I knew when I first started running was to work on my aerobic threshold… to run (and embrace) the slow runs. Not every run has to be speedy. 🙂

  2. jill conyers says:

    Yes to your whole list and add listen to [and trust] your body.

  3. My thing is that if isn’t broke, don’t fix it. I used to never get injured and then I started messing with my shoes and now I’m always just this side of an injury.

  4. Diatta @ Femme Fitale Fit Club says:

    I have learned a lot through running and me and trail running don’t get along.

    1. LOL! I don’t get along with hill repeats 🙂

  5. Abby @ BackAtSquareZero says:

    I am still working on number 2. I know this, but I really struggle with it.

  6. Totally agree about the runners don’t just run statement!
    I didn’t really cross train or strength train until about 10 years ago and it has made a huge difference!!

  7. Stephanie says:

    These are excellent tips! I have been running off and on since I was in high school. Back then I was a sprinter so my training was very different. Now in my 40s and after having two babies, it is important to me to keep active and stay injury free. So when I get out there I am careful to stretch before and after each run.

  8. I wish I hadn’t been so apprehensive about joining a running club. I’m naturally shy so it took me YEARS to get up the nerve to join not one, but two great clubs. Now I can always find at least one person to run with…,some faster, some slower, some just right! And I’ve made great friends in the process.

  9. Yes, yes, yes, to ALL of that. Oh how I can relate! It’s funny to me how now, 8 years later, running is finally starting to come “easy” to me. I never believed that way back when people told me it would happen “in time”. And I’m a significantly faster runner now that I a) regularly weight train and b) regularly trail run. Great post!