GUEST BLOG: Becoming a Veteran Runner - Coach Marc Pelerin
How to take your running from beginner level to advanced
The 8 tips you can follow to have a happy and successful journey of distance running
Everyone was once a beginner runner. What you might be seeing as a new runner looks impossible, but believe me, we felt the same way too! There are of course learning curves in just about every sport, but what’s so special about running is the miles we put in as a new runner are still with us when we’re 10, 20 or 30 years down the line!
Here are 8 tips I believe can help any new runner stick with running and find the passion and motivation I have after 20 years of running.
It’s easy to think that you have to do this, or you have to do that. It’s ok to think of your running career as a marathon and not a sprint. You don’t HAVE to run every race you find online. I find it best that you pick 1-4 races per block of training, especially if they are longer races like a half marathon or marathon, that you truly want to do well in and focus on doing your best at those races. Then, take time off and pick another set of races you want to go after.
When you think long term, you don’t necessarily feel the pressure to nail every run or workout. You can be ok with an off day or a bad race. When you know there will be plenty of more runs and races, you never put too much stock into any single run.
Stick to your plan of action until it doesn’t work any longer. It’s ok that a week of running didn’t go your way. It doesn’t mean abandon ship! Secondly, don’t succumb to FOMO (fear of missing out) because a friend registers for a race. (See Have Patience) Have a game plan for the season and stick to it.
Use cross training to supplement your running - whether that’s yoga, swimming, strength training or something else - but use it to keep you balanced. Runners should be more than just runners. Find what motivates you and gets you sweating and working that isn’t running. It’ll extend your running career by years!
If you can only run 3 times a week, then run 3 times a week. Whatever it is you can do, that’s what you should do. It’s very easy for us to get crazy and try and run all the miles, but you know what happens? We get burnt out, injured, or leave the sport. Be consistent in your efforts - think about what you’ll be able to handle every week, every month, every year.
Use a training log - most coaches will provide you with one. If you’re not using a coach (which you absolutely should), something as simple as a notebook is great. You’ll want to know how much and how often you run, how many miles are on your shoes, and how you felt during your runs.
Invest in Gear
Running isn’t a cheap sport despite what appears to be minimal gear. However, if you can only spend money on one thing, it must be shoes. Proper shoes are so key to a healthy relationship with running. Find a running-specific store that watches you walk/run. They’ll put you in a running shoe that fits your running needs.
Follow a Training Plan
Using a science-based training plan, written by a certified running coach, will help you with the planning and implementation of your running goals. You can find running coaches online or through word of mouth, but before you settle on any particular coach, find out if the coach and you mesh. Do they have experience working with brand new runners? Ask them questions and see if they are a good fit for you.
It’s so awesome that you’ve found the sport of distance running, but don’t feel rushed to accomplish all of your goals! Since you’re new, there will be lots you might not know yet - and that’s a-OK! When you believe that you’ll be in the sport for 30 or more years, it’s ok to take your time getting faster. When the right time comes, invest in your talents and sign up for races. When you know you’re committed, find a coach who is there to help you reach your best and stay injury free.
Marc is a USATF and vDOT certified running coach based in Cherry Hill NJ. He’s the distance coach at Cinnaminson Middle School as well as online at TrainwithMarc.com. Marc has been competitively running for over 20 years, first at Cherokee High School, then Villanova University before continuing into his 30s. Marc works with new runners and runners seeking help reaching their old PRs.