Are you new to running?  Maybe you want to start, or maybe you started running during the pandemic and you are one of the millions of new “Pandemic Runners” and you want to learn more about your new passion.  First, welcome to the wonderful world of running!  Here’s your quick guide to the basics of running.

Choosing Running ShoesRunning Gear

Running is generally an inexpensive sport – you can run in just about any clothes that are comfortable.  I even remember seeing a runner almost every day in the winter running in jeans and a long-sleeved button-down shirt!  Once you get farther into your running journey, you may want to find some specialized running shorts, socks, jackets, etc.  But, starting out, feel free to wear what you have – any comfortable shorts or leggings, t-shirt and socks.

But, the one piece of gear you absolutely cannot skimp on is your running shoes.  It is so important to get properly fitted shoes and shoes that are right for your running gait and body structure.  So, go to your nearest specialty running store for advice.  You may pay a little more than buying online, but it is so worth it to reduce the chance of injury and blisters.  Many running stores have a treadmill where the shoe fitter will watch you run for a bit to examine your running gait, and others will examine wear patters on your existing shoes to find potential issues that can be alleviated with the proper running shoes.  Then, they will measure your feet and get the size right – don’t be surprised if they recommend a size that is a little different than your regular casual shoes.  Proper shoes means fewer injuries and fewer injuries means a happy runner!

The Training Plan – Take it Slowly

Ok, you have your shoes, now get out there and run!  Well – maybe not… First, if you have any health issues, make sure you talk to your doctor before starting a new training plan.  Once you are ready to start training, don’t go full steam ahead and run a 5km run.  Start slooooowly.  If you over-do it, you may injure yourself, or you may just be sore and tired and that will defeat your momentum and motivation.  As you start running, there will be days where your muscles are stiff and your legs are sore – that’s normal.  But, be aware of any sharp pains or aches that just don’t go away.  You may need to back off or go and see a doctor or physical therapist.

We recommend finding a “Couch to 5k” plan.  (You may also see it called “C25K.”)  These plans are all over the internet and they will take you from never running to finishing your first 5k.  (By the way – 5 kilometers is just over 3 miles.)  Most of these training plans include a lot of walking at first.  An example of an early “C25K” workout would be something like – warm up by doing a brisk walk for 5 minutes, then alternate jogging for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds for a total of 20 minutes.  The workouts gradually progress to more and more running until you are able to run a 5k without stopping.  Yay!

Race in Europe - Running TourThe Race!

The best part of running is the race!  Only 50% of new “Pandemic Runners” plan to participate in a race in the coming year.  Running is a great sport for your overall health, and running a race isn’t required, but if you have never participated in a race, you are missing out.

My 5 Favorite Things about Racing:

  1. Community – You will see runners young and old, fast and slow all gathering together to do what we love.  All so different, but we have running in common — it’s a beautiful sight!
  2. Adrenaline – There’s something about lining up at the starting line that get’s that adrenaline pumping.  It’s definitely not that quiet solo run you are used to.
  3. Competition – Do you have a competitive streak?  A race is a great way to test yourself – having other runners around always seems to get me to run faster than I thought I could.
  4. Cheering – Goosebumps!  The cheering crowds, the high-fives, live bands on the course – you need to experience it!
  5. Celebration – When we’re done, we celebrate!  Yes, our lungs and legs may still be burning, but we all celebrate our accomplishments together at the post-race party.


All of us in the Running Community are so glad to have you join us!  Get out there for a run (with some walking, of course) and enjoy it!

Are you a lone wolf or do you like to be part of a pack?  We’re digging into why you might want to do either and what it can do for your running.

Running Alone TrailBenefits of Running Alone

Your “Race,” Your Pace

You all have those days as part of your workouts or training when you need to up your tempo just as much as there are days when you should just run easy – let yourself recover and keep your risk of injuries at bay.  Those easy days are one of the best arguments for running alone.  When you run with a group, you will try to keep up (always competing are ya?) – and, if the pace isn’t just right, then you may risk injury, or at least you’re going to tire yourself out.  So, on those easier days, think about skipping the group run, and head out on your own, do your thing, listen to your body and take it easy.  Run and smell the flowers.

Meditation & Peace

Do you ever just need some “me time?”  (Right here!)  Running alone is a perfect time for that!  Skip the earbuds and just head out for a run with your thoughts.  Or zen out with your favorites tunes.  Either way, sometimes you need that alone time to work through a business issue, reflect on relationships, or maybe it’s time to think about nothing and clear your mind.  We are fans of getting out for a run on a trail or in a park and just listening to what’s around us or under us – our feet padding the ground.  Ahhhh.

Time to Focus

Are you in the middle of training for a big race?  Maybe it’s time to get serious and really focus on your workout.  Group runs can help to make workouts more bearable (we’ll talk about that below), but sometimes the chit-chat isn’t what you need – just run alone focus on your workout or your form & breathing.  You may get the most out of your run without any distractions.

Benefits of Running with a Group

Running Group WorkoutTalking Pace

Coaches always say that when running your easy pace, you should be able to carry on a conversation.  Long runs are such an important part of marathon and half marathon training — if you are lucky enough to have a running group with people of your same ability, a long run with friends is a great way to make sure you don’t run too fast.  Just keep running and talking!  The time and the miles will go by quickly and you know that you aren’t running too fast if you can still carry on the conversation.

Some of my fondest memories are going for runs with my college cross country teammates.  There was always lots of joking and telling stories while the miles passed below our feet.

Just be sure that you aren’t over-doing it. If you are trying to keep up with runners faster than you and running too fast, you will risk injury or you may just be too tired to follow your workout routine the rest of the week.  And in that case, what’s the point?


Do you run very early in the morning or at night?  Running with a group or a partner is a great way to feel safer.  It’s a sad reality that we runners (especially women runners) need to think about safety and harassment.  Be safe, plus get all the other benefits of running with a group!

Run Faster Together

On a dark morning, the bed is so comfy… If you have a group waiting for you, that accountability is sometimes just what you need to force you out of bed and into the running shoes.  And, once you are out there, it really does feel so good!  You won’t regret leaving your warm bed (most of the time).

There’s also something about running with others that lets us push just a little bit harder.  If I’m running alone, it’s too easy to just skip that last “rep” on the intervals.  So, running with others is great for those hard workouts.  There’s the encouragement from your cheering friends and a little friendly competition to get that extra push.

Reach Your Goals

There’s a time and place for group runs and for running alone.  Plan ahead, check in with yourself and see what suits you (mentally and training wise) and each type of run can help you reach your marathon or half marathon goals!

Brussels Belgium Marathon

I’m well on my way to my coaching certification (read about my journey to coaching here).  There is so much information to absorb and to compare & contrast to my 40+ years of running and racing experience.

Running CalendarAs I’ve focused more on the technical and physiological aspects of running, I keep noticing runners in Facebook groups asking about how to get FASTER.

That’s what we all want, right?  Keep improving and moving forward – get a Boston Qualifier, break 2 hours in a half marathon, get that PR (Personal Record).  But, most of the advice I see immediately suggests intervals and speed work.

There are so many ways to run faster, and intervals and speed work have their place (and I’ll be talking about them in a couple of weeks), but the first thing you need to is to do pause and PLAN.

The plan is the most important part of running faster.  Legendary Coach Jack Daniels says that you must always be able to answer the question, “What is the purpose of this workout?”  If you don’t have a schedule of how far & how fast you are running, then you very likely don’t have a purpose for each run.

Without a plan, two things can happen — and, they are the complete opposites of each other!

  1. You can flounder.  Without seeing that 3 miles written on the calendar for today, it’s so easy to just hit snooze and sleep in.  “I will run tomorrow,” you might say to yourself.  Well, tomorrow it will be cold and dark, and that extra hour sleep will continue to entice you.
  2. You can over-do it.  Last fall I was in pretty good shape and I was running a lot.  I was building up the mileage week after week.  I was enjoying seeing those big numbers on Strava and I kept increasing the mileage until I injured my hamstring.  If I would have planned out my autumn running schedule there is no way that I would have written down those big mileage weeks.  It would have been a better thought-out strategy of increasing my mileage for a couple of weeks, and then resting and recovering for a week before I started building again. (We’ll look at the magic of building up your mileage next week!)

Where should you get your running plan?  The answer to that question depends on your goals, how far away your goal race is, your experience, and many other factors.  There are tons of great coaches out there to help guide you in your plan to run faster.  (Message me and I can help, or I can point you to a another good coach.)  There are also lots of good books – I’m reading a bunch of them right now, and I will be reviewing them here soon.  But, some classics are “Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide” by Hal Higdon, “Hanson’s Marathon Method,” “Advanced Marathoning” by Pete Pfitzinger, and many others.  Also, check out your local running stores and running clubs for training groups and training plans.

But, you can even create your own plan!  I think it’s important to have a plan, even when you aren’t “training” for a goal race.  You might be 8 or 10 months from your goal race, so you are not yet in the thick of the training, or maybe you are recovering from an injury and not back in shape yet.  But, having a plan — even if that plan is all easy running — will help you stay in shape, stay focused and stay injury-free.

You also need to remember a plan isn’t set in stone.  Evaluate how you are feeling each day.  Are you inching up on an injury?  Did you have a terrible night’s sleep?  Is there added stress at home or work?  It’s ok to move a workout to different day, or skip it entirely.  The only caveat is to be sure about the reasons.  There have been many workouts when I just wanted to skip it during the warm-up, but once I forced myself to get started it, ended up being a great workout.  (Always remember the famous runner mantra – “The first mile is a liar!”)

Faster Marathon RunningOver the next couple of weeks I will be talking more about how to run faster.  I will be discussing the magic of mileage, threshold training, intervals, speed-work and more.  So, stay tuned and get out there and run!