Become a Runner: 3 Rules

I started running in college just to relieve the stress of finals. I ran with a tape deck, which we Gen Xers fondly call a Walkman. I ran to Duran Duran, which was kinda old school even in the late 90s, and Fleetwood Mac, which was definitely old school by then. I didn't run far or fast. I only started because I had so much pent up energy, it seemed natural. And I felt so much relief after running a couple miles. It didn't occur to me to actually work at and get better, and I didn't become a runner.

After graduation, I stopped running. Years and two states later I decided to sign up to run a marathon, all 26.2 miles of it, and I did. For that, I had to train, and for that, I had to write a few rules for me as I was training with a group that was (not surprisingly) full of people with much more running skill and prowess than I had.

My soundtrack at the time: "I can't run a mile and yet I have the audacity to sign up for a marathon ... and finish every training run dead last by at least 20 minutes." The group's cheers from the finish line of our long runs in the country made my teeth gnash. For such a big goal, I needed some basic rules to keep me from getting overwhelmed by the bigness of a marathon. Here they are:

A runner begins his 13.1 mile course at the inaugural Yellowstone Half Marathon in 2014. A runner begins his 13.1 mile course at the inaugural Yellowstone Half Marathon in 2014. (Credit: Juliette Rule)

1. Walking is OK.

It's fine. Really. Do it. And when you're just getting started, it's impossible to not walk some of the time. Forgive yourself for it ... make your mantra "keep moving forward."

2. Are you a runner or a racer?

You'll figure out in time, to quote #TeamSierra member Kristie Salzman. She said this to me a few years ago - well after I ran my marathon - and I haven't forgotten it. I'm a runner. (So is she.) If you're a runner not a racer, it's fine. Just keep moving forward. No matter what your training goal is or what that dumb inner voice says to you.

3. Create a training program.

Literally write it down. Running is a great sport, but it's not easy for anyone who doesn't do it regularly. You'll get better ... especially if you follow a training program and stick to it. Your goal is simple: Keep moving forward.

That's it. My three rules for new runners (and walkers).

I always say that being able to run three miles is a great measure for me for my personal physical fitness. It's not a long distance, but it's not too short. It's not a big time suck, but as mentioned, running is hard for anyone who doesn't do it regularly. So being able to handily run three miles is just a great feeling. So, yes, I run. But sometimes just once a month (and yea, it's always hard when you do it infrequently). Nothing helps me get and stay motivated like a having a goal, and this is truly the thing I think I love most about running. It's so easy to set a goal, download a training plan and experience the joy that comes from becoming stronger. Who's up for a 5k?

Better yet? It's one of the lowest cost sports you can get into. Naturally, Sierra Trading Post has a host of ways to help you get fit with running and fitness apparel, Speedy McSpeeder!

Oh, my marathon? I completed it. On June 6 of that year, I literally couldn't run a mile. On Sept. 27 of that same year, I ran 17.5 miles nonstop and ran/walked the remainder of the course. That medal still makes me proud. Big goals have a tendency to do that.

What have you learned as a runner that might help a newbie? Share it in the comments below!
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Juliette Rule
Juliette Rule is a former social media and public relations manager for Sierra Trading Post. She loves riding her mountain bike or road bike - in every Colorado season. Juliette lives in Fort Collins, Colo., with her rescued Australian cattle dog, Maszlo.
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