Ask A Runner...


Why do you run?
I could go into all of the physical benefits of running, but we all learned about the importance and benefits of exercise since we were little.  When someone asks me why I run, my typical answer is "because I can."  You never know what tomorrow will bring you so why not embrace something you love doing.  I love running because it is something that helps me escape the stresses of life.  When I have a bad day I can always count on my run to turn the day around.  While I am out running every problem/stress I have seems to escape me - it is me and the road/trail and nothing else.  

How did you get into running?
I have not always been a runner.  To be honest, I was that girl in high school gym class that threw up after running a mile.  I did my conditioning short sprints in volleyball from middle school through high school but that is the extent of it.  

I did a 5K (walking) in college with my family.  It wasn't until after I gained about 40 pounds between having limited physical activity from a car accident, graduate school and just living a poor lifestyle.  In March 2011 I decided to turn my life around and eat better and exercise.

I started by walking 5Ks then built up to jogging some and then running.  I am by no means a "serious" or "elite" runner.  To this day I am your average "middle of the pack" runner, but I enjoy what I do and that is what matters.

Do I have to run in order to do a 5K?
Absolutely NOT!  Almost every single race is walker friendly!  My mom recently got the 5K bug and walks her races.  Some races have a required pace that you must maintain (typically 15:00/mile or 16:00/mile) which is a fast walking pace.  Start off by walking your neighborhood after work for 10 or 15 minutes then build up from there.  Even a slower walker can complete a 5K in under an hour (20:00/mile).  See the race etiquette section for tips on being a walker in 5K.

How can I start running?
First, I need to recommend consulting your physician to make sure you are in proper health to start a fitness routine. 

There are many different ways that one can start running - find what is right for you.  I will mention three different programs to give you a starting point to give you ideas, but it is important for you to research into methods and what fits you, your goals, and your life.

What I personally utilize is the Jeff Galloway method.  Jeff Galloway was an Olympian in the 70s.  I had the privilege to run with Jeff during the runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend.  The Galloway method uses a "run-walk-run" method.  There are different formulas for the time to run vs. the time to walk based off of your goal pace.  

I asked my runner friends for tips for beginner runners and my friend Jessica suggested the Runner's World Smart Coach app.  There is a basic version for free and an upgrade available for a fee.  Jessica uses this app (the free version) and she is a very well seasoned runner, and just ran her 3rd full marathon!  Jessica recommends this app because it is very customizable and is great for those looking to do their first 5K or their 50th marathon.  Thank you Jessica for the recommendation!

With the growing popularity of smartphones, there are many apps that you can download (a lot of them are free).  One of the most popular iPhone apps is the Couch 2 5K program.  Couch 2 5K starts you off with straight walks and incorporates running slowing into your program.  The program utilizes intervals which is a program that has you run for a certain amount of time/distance then walk for a certain time/distance and back to run, etc.  The end goal is to fully run a 5K at the end of the program.I personally have not used this program, but it quite popular in the running community.


What is your most important piece of equipment/gear for running?
I see my shoes being my most important piece of gear.  In running (or walking) your feet are what make you go (literally).  It is critical that you are in the correct running shoe or you could very well be facing injury in the future.  Yes, those Nike's at Kohls are cute and on sale plus you have a 30% off coupon, but they are not the ideal shoe for you necessarily.  

I personally am fitted for my running shoes at a local running store (by Landy at Athlete's Locker).  When I am fitted for my shoes Landy look at my foot dynamics in order to put me into the correct shoes.  I have been going to Landy for shoes since I started running and he always gets me into good shoes.

Yes, I pay more for my shoes by going to a specialty store.  I wear Asiacs Cumulus 14's right now and they typically cost me about $100 a pair, but they are honestly the most important piece to my running.

Where do you buy your running attire?
I have already mentioned my shoes, so where do I buy the rest of my gear.  There are many places you can purchase your shoes, shorts, etc.  I enjoy nothing more than a good deal, so I don't like spending a lot of money on my running clothes.  My tops typically come from Kohls or TJ Maxx.  I am not too picky about my running tops - I do make sure they are comfortable and are made of wicking material (material that absorbs moisture).  For my shorts I swear by Nike Tempo shorts.  Since Nike does not come cheap, I visit my local Nike Outlet Store frequently and shop their sale/clearance racks.


How do you find races in your area?
My favorite race webpage is RunGeorgia.  RunGeorgia is a great source because you can view tons of races across the state of Georgia.  I like their site because on the main page they have featured races then you can access the event calendar which shows by date races that you can register for.

How do you chose what race is right for you?
For beginners I recommend finding a smaller local race.  Your first race can be intimidating, so only having 100 participants at the race can help reduce your nerves.  There are lot of HUGE races in Atlanta periodically that have 5,000+ runners and sometimes a lot of chaos, so I recommend finding something that is in a suburb for your first race.

A lot of races are hosted to benefit a charity of some kind.  A lot of the time I chose what race I will do based off of the charity that is being supported.  I am a huge advocate for supporting cancer research, the children's hospital, and the Ronald McDonald House.  I see my race fees as a way that I can help support causes that I support while having fun doing something I love.

How do you register for a race?
Most all races have online registration which is frequently done through a service called Active.  They will just ask a few questions such as your name, age, gender, shirt size, emergency contact, etc.  It is a very painless process and takes about 2 minutes to do.  At the end you will pay your race fee via credit card and you are done.  One word of advice is to make sure you save your email confirmation so you have record that you registered and have it handy when you go to the race in case it is needed.  I have  a folder in my email that I put all of my running confirmation emails into.

There is typically an option to do "race day registration" which you register the morning of the race.  It is not guaranteed that the race will have race day registration available, so always check prior to going.  I always register ahead of time for my races - this helps me save money and have concrete goals as to what I doing.

What are race/registration fees typically?
It really depends on the race.  For small, local races your fees might be $20-$30 and larger 5Ks might be up to $50-$60.  My most expensive race was Disney's Princess Half Marathon which was $160 (plus travel expenses) - for this race you are paying for the Disney experience.

A lot of races have price breaks for if you register early.  When you look at a race website a lot of races will tell you what the fees are at each point in time.

What is included in race fees?
Every race is different but most races provide runners with a t-shirt and a post race party with food and drinks provided by race sponsors.  Remember, usually the race is being held as a fund raiser for a specific organization, so race fees go here as well.  

How far is 5K, 10K, etc?
The K means kilometers.  Below are a few of the mile equivalents for race distances.
5K = 3.1miles
10K = 6.2 miles
Half Marathon = 13.1 miles
Marathon = 26.2 miles

What is your favorite distance?
Each distance has its own aspects that I enjoy.  If I had to chose a favorite it would be 10K though.

What happens on race morning?
After getting to the race, you will check-in at tables to receive your race bib (don't forget to get pins off the table) and some races will give you your "swag" (goodie bag with advertisements, samples, and shirt).  Pin your bib to the front of your shirt - this helps race volunteers know that you are part of the race and will also help you find race photos of yourself (if they are taken at your race).  

Sometimes races are chip-timed.  Chip-timing means that you are personally timed using an electronic timing chip.  Timing chips are usually either via chip attached to your bib or by use of a "d-tag"(also called a toe tag).  A "d-tag" is an orange strip attached to the bib that you remove and attached to the laces of your shoe in a "D" shape.  There are instructions attached to it and they are simple to follow.

Race Etiquette:
If I am running a race, what should I keep in mind?  What about walkers?
Race etiquette is fairly simple.  When you line up for the start of the race, try to line up by your anticipated pace.  If you are going to run a 6:00/mile go to the front of the pack, if you plan on doing 10:00/mile pace go in the middle, and if you are walking go to the back of the pack.  Doing this will help prevent anyone from getting ran over by other runners and it also courteous to the other participants.

Think of running/walking as you would driving: faster runners to the left and slower runners/walkers to the right.  If you are using a run-walk-run method or just need a break, pull off to the right when walking.  This helps keep the path clear for those passing.  If you are passing someone it is courteous to pass on the left side (just as you should when driving).

One final piece of etiquette involves groups.  Typical race etiquette is to not run/walk in a group of more than 2 abreast.  Yes, running/walking can be a social activity, but for the safety of those around you, it is best to not have more than 2 abreast so others may pass safely as needed.

I need to spit - what do I do?
A lot of runners have to spit while running.  The best way to handle this is to pull off to the side, make sure no one is within your "spit path" (take the wind into consideration), and spit.  Easy!


What does "PR" mean?
PR means "personal record" which simply means the best time that someone has ran a distance in.

What are some questions you have about running/racing?  Post your questions below and I will be happy to answer them for you!  

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