Running tips and tricks

I did it!

Happy Tuesday! I had a little too much fun at Taste of the Nation last night (recap coming soon!), so while I recover get my photos organized, check out the oldie, but goodie posts I dug up for you:

Fuel for endurance running

IT band pain and how to fix it

Best Places to run in NYC

The Runner’s Commute

How to run on your lunch hour

How to buy fancy groceries on a budget

How much of running is mental? I think it’s at least 50%. Check out my latest True/Slant article on the topic – It’s all in your head.

In a previous post, I asked if you had any running questions. Read on for the Q & A!

1) I, too, am running the NYC Marathon in the fall, and I was wondering – is there a specific training plan you follow (did you find it in a certain book or on a certain website)? I’m just wondering which training plan you think is best!

Well I’ve never actually followed a pre-set training plan, I’ve always created my own, but if you go to you can check out their wide variety of training plans. I just put the finishing touches on my 2010 NYC Marathon Training Plan – take a look! Big props to Megan from Bites of the Apple – she created the framework for the plan andddd she’s going to be my training buddy!

2) I know running long distances requires lots of practice, but here is my issue – after maybe 2 miles, my legs hurt so badly, to the point that they are throbbing. I’ve run in a few 5k’s over the past couple years, but feel like I can’t do anything more than that. On top of my legs hurting during my run, the rest of the day they are sore and often throb. I now try to only run once or twice a week to not overdo it, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference. Is there a reason for this? Do you have any tips for ways to improve longer distance running?

Hmm, it sounds like you might be starting off too fast. Many new runners will begin at a pace that is just not sustainable for them and this makes running very unpleasant. It’s better to start out slowly, take occasional walk breaks, and build endurance over time. If your calves are still giving you trouble, you might want to try upping your potassium intake. Dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance can cause muscle cramps.

3) As someone who is currently in training for a marathon, I was running how upping your training mileage affects your weight and also whether you estimate calorie intake?

My weight has stayed with in the same 5-lb range for the last 3 years or so, however I do notice a slight gain when I’m running very high mileage (i.e. marathon training). I’m not really sure of the cause, it could be fluid retention (from increased carb consumption or muscle tissue inflamation) or perhaps I’m just eating more – running makes me hungry! It always seems to even out in the end though, so I try to focus on quality foods and not overthink it. I don’t count calories on a daily basis, but occasionally on long run days or race days I will use a tool like calorie count to make sure I’m refueling enough.

4) I had been running for about 2 years and participating competetively in endurance events (mostly 1/2 mary’s and 1/2 iron men) for about a year when the dreaded IT band syndrome benched me about six months ago. Do you have any tips for the return to running? I’m especially struggling with my mentality; when I know I’ve run 13 miles at sub 8 minute pace it’s soooooo frustrating to struggle trying to maintain an 8:30 pace for a mile or two. I feel like I’m starting from scratch! How did you build up your speed and endurance so quickly after your IT band injury?

Runner’s World recently published an article about post-injury worries. The article provided some tips on how to regain confidence after some time off. Coming back from injury isn’t easy, so if you can, try not to compare your current paces and race times to your pre-injury times. Just try to get a little faster or run a little longer than the day before. It will come back to you!

Question: If you could give a new runner one piece of advice, what would it be?

  • Just one piece of advice? That’s tough! I can’t do it…how about 2? #1 Shoes are #1 priority. The right shoes can make all the difference in the world and prevent alot of injury. #2 Training plans are not “one-size-fits-all”..just because “so-and-so” does “this or that” dosen’t mean you should. We all come into running with different backgrounds, fitness levels, genetics, body types and adaption. Do what what works for YOU, and take the time to learn what that is. BELIEVE ME, it will save you alot of pain and injury in the long run. This is about your journey into running!

  • Great Q & A! I do find that if I am running a lot more my weight is a bit more (nothing really noticeable) but I think it’s from my constant hunger! I actually just wrote about tricks to motivate yourself to exercise. You should check it out, I bet you’d have a few ideas to add.

  • Jesse

    Sooo much of performance (be it running or other sports, or test taking, or musical performance) is in our heads. I’ve done a bunch of work with my “mental game” for performing, taking auditions, etc. I think it’s what holds us back much of the time. My grad school teacher introduced me to a great resource for thinking about that stuff: Bob Rotella’s golf books. (“Golf is a Game of Confidence” among others.) If nothing else, they are a series of fun stories, even if you’re not a golf fan!

  • I would say: don’t expect it to be a breeze immediately and stick with it! Running is tough if you’ve never tried it before; a whole new set of muscles to get synched up and the like.

    It also can be tough on your body and I think a lot of people starting out (ahem, myself included) think that they should immediately be able to run 5, 8, 10 miles straight and feel wonderful. Baby steps are where it’s at.

  • My advice to running beginners: When you don’t feel like running, lace up, get out the door and just go. 95% of the time, you will find your rhythm and enjoy the run.

  • i’m totally jealous you went to taste of the nation. can’t wait to hear that recap!

    i think running can often be more mental than physical, so getting past self-doubt for those new to it can push you farther than you think you can go. but it’s also so important to listen to both your mind and your body – if your body is sending you signals, be sure to listen.

  • I would say patience, patience, patience and never give up!

  • My tip for new runners – take it slow and have fun! I’m going to follow those same tips once I get the all clear from my foot doc and get to run again!

  • These are great tips! I talked a bit about “mental/emotional long runs” in last night’s post!

  • Jessicat

    i find that having many different colors and varieties of shoelaces that i can rotate throughout my shoe collection makes me excited to have jazzy feet and somehow motivates me to get out the door!

    but honestly, i think that those who run to “lose weight”, or “look good”, are not the ones who are going to stick with it for life. my best running advice is to just enjoy it. enjoy your body. enjoy the relationship running and your body have together and be amazed at what you can do with just your legs and an open road!

  • Ellen

    Oh wow, I’d say running is definitely more than 50 percent mental! 65 AT LEAST. In my opinion. My advice to a new runner would just to be keep at it. It sucks at first and it’s SO hard, but once you gradually improve, you will love see the results and progress! The hardest things in life are usually worth the effort 🙂

  • Jacqui


    My advice: SLEEP. Get enough sleep.

  • Great post! My advice to a new runner would be to increase mileage slowly and don’t get discouraged – no matter what. Everyone had bad days – even the best of runners. But the bad days are usually followed pretty closely by some amazing days. 🙂 and those amazing days make it ALL worth it!!

  • My advice would be get your feet into some good shoes and don’t get discouraged! We all have days where we really don’t want to run and our legs feel like lead!

  • Put one foot in front of the other! Simple as that!

  • Thanks for re-posting some of those links. I know you always talk about your IT Band pain, but I just recently realized that my knee pain while running on pavement is most likely ITBS and not a knee issue. I use Kinesio Tape for my shins, which is similar to the KT Tape (same thing, different brand), so I just watched a video for ITBS Knee pain and will have to try out the taping method.

  • emily

    i was a beginner about a year and a half ago. take it slow at the beginning – run/walk for time instead of distance. make sure you get out at least 3 times per week and increase running:walking ratio slightly each week until running feels comfortable.

    a great running coach told me that for every five runs, one would be great, one would be lousy, and the remaining three would be decent. don’t worry if you have a bad day! everyone does.

    …no longer a beginner, i’m running my first half marathon tomorrow!

  • This is such a great informative post! Thanks!