my best running advice

What’s my best running advice? Let’s start at the beginning…

Over the last decade I’ve run 5K’s and 10K’s, 2 full marathons and so many half marathons I can’t tell you the number because I’ve lost count. I love distance races because they’re some of the most inclusive events I’ve ever witnessed. They’re filled with people of every age, every body type and every ability level. They’ve got wheelchairs on the same course as sprinters. They’ve got 80 year old grandpas on the same route as a mama pushing a jogging stroller on a 10 minute mile. I love being a runner and the cool part –at least, I think it’s the cool part– is that I didn’t grow up as any kind of athlete. If you’d asked me to run a mile in my twenties I would have told you that I hated running! But once I did my first race, it completely changed what I believed myself and what my body was capable of.

Since that time I’ve learned so much and developed a lot of personal hacks for running, training and even hopping into races last minute. There are incredible running coaches you can find all over the internet, but this is my best running advice for anyone who’s interested.

  • Just Start: Stop overthinking it. Stop freaking yourself out. Just sign up for a race and start training. Distance training requires no membership fees, special equipment or financial investment to get started. Yes fancy sneakers look cool, but most runners I know (myself included) are rocking the same gear we’ve had forever… the worn down lulu leggings I wore in my most recent half marathon? Same ones I’ve worn in full marathons, mountain climbs and across the Camino de Santiago. Yes, most organized races have entrance fees but I’ve run countless races by setting my goal in a free running app and running until I crossed the “finish line”. This is way less fun than an actual race but my point is that distance challenges are awesome because they don’t require anything but your commitment.
  • Try the 7/3 Method: I got this piece of advice from my buddy Jesse Itzler and it’s a game changer for someone who’s starting out or hasn’t run in a while. Instead of trying to run a full distance without stopping, try a 7 minute / 3 minute split. Jog for 7 minutes, then walk for 3 minutes. This really helps you to pace yourself and gives you a chance to calm your heart rate after each jog. Not able to go for 7 minutes yet? Try 6/4 or 5/5 and work your way up. Last weekend I ran a half marathon with ZERO training (the most I’ve run lately is 3 miles) by doing an 8/2 cadence.
  • Sing While You Run: Sounds silly but this is the best method I know to pace myself. While I run I sing –yes out loud– for at least 30 seconds of every song in my playlist. This is the best trick I know of to make sure I always have gas in the tank. If I can sing without too much trouble– this means I’m running at a pace that’s in line with my ability. If I’m unable to sing aloud it means I’m running too fast for my current training level and I’ll slow back down. Lots of runners use timing to pace themselves but I find that singing is the most accurate indicator of how my body is doing rather than the pace I think I “should” be at. Also, yes sometimes other runners hear me belting show tunes or Disney soundtracks but they usually just smile because they’re also trying to keep themselves going and nobody judges on race day.
  • Buy Bigger Shoes: The beauty of a distance challenge is that you don’t have to buy anything to get started, but I know you guys, and I’m willing to bet that most of you will buy yourself some gear if you sign up for a race. My best running advice? Buy your shoes a half size bigger than you need to– it will help you with blisters and allow you to keep all your toenails. Trust me on this one! If you’re able to, go to a real running store. They’re usually small and niche but the people who work there are runners too and they know everything including the best local races and run clubs you can join.
  • Figure Out Your Pre-Game Ritual: When you’re just starting out, you really want to figure out a pre-run ritual that works best for you. For years I would eat a piece of toast with almond butter and drink some pre-workout on my way to my favorite running spot. Nowadays it’s usually a little oatmeal and a banana… possibly more if it’s a super long run. The point of training for a race is that it allows you to experiment as you go and see what makes your body feel best. Remember, whatever you do (or don’t do) before a run will give you the energy you need to complete it. Make sure you hydrate, stay away from alcohol, and eat food that’s gentle on your stomach. If you’re running more than 45 minutes, make sure you hydrate and take in calories as you go. I usually have a Gu for long runs, it’s gross and the texture is awful but I haven’t found anything better to keep me going.
  • Pay Attention to Your Cycle: I’m going to assume that almost everyone reading an article on my website has a uterus 😂 If so, please let me remind you to be thoughtful about where you are in your cycle as it pertains to your training. I don’t typically run long-distance in the few days after my period because I have both low blood pressure and anemia and the loss of blood usually makes me feel pretty weak. Years ago I would have beat myself up for my lack of energy but now I just allow myself the chance to rest so I can come back stronger. That being said, my first marathon happened while I was on my period (bad planning on my part) and I was totally fine. In this instance, I can’t recommend a menstrual cup enough (I mean, I recommend them at all times but during a race it’s so much easier than carrying tampons!)
  • If you Train, You’ll Be Fine: One of my biggest fears when I signed up for my first half marathon was that I might puke or poop my pants. Give yourself some credit! Your body is an incredible machine and if you train properly you shouldn’t experience any adverse reactions… except for maybe blisters, but those are a badge of honor in your first race. OK, one time, years ago, I did actually ruin a pair of my pants right after a half marathon, but that was because I broke two rules: I hadn’t trained properly and I didn’t utilize my pre-game routine so my stomach was super upset. Good news though, I made it to the bathroom before that happened and I learned a valuable lesson: no Chipotle the night before a race. Be prepared and train properly! There are thousands of free training programs online and apps where you can input the race you sign up for, where you’re at physically and how much time you have. It will literally tell you exactly what to do to pull it off. Also, most cities have run clubs where you can meet up with other runners on the weekend and run together. It’s a great chance to make friends, have accountability and grow your circle to include like-minded people who are working on themselves.

  • Realize that You’ve Already Won: One of my favorite things about yoga is that almost every teacher I’ve ever had says something along the lines of “You’ve made it to your mat today, you’ve already done the hard part” Showing up on race day is the same way. If you show up for a 5K and only run 2K… you’ve won. If you show up for your marathon and only make it 1 mile… you’ve won. By starting that race, no matter how far you go, you’ve already done more than BILLIONS of other people will do that day. Good for you! I think most people don’t sign up for a race because they’re terrified of failing but there is no failure here. Anything you do is more than you would have done otherwise. Embrace the experience and trust that if for some reason you don’t finish, you can always try again.