Tips for the Newbie Track Star

You can link to my full article on beginning running The Long Run on Huffington Post.


Pile O' Shoes by Stephen Bell

Pile O' Shoes by Stephen Bell


1. The first rule of running is: don’t think about running. The resistance is all in your head. Running is a head-game; the body knows exactly how to do it. Determination, commitment, perseverance are required to break through the resistance in your mind, not your body.

2. Of course attention to the details will keep you from injuring yourself, and help your body do what it’s designed to in the best way. Posture is important. I was directed to keep my abs engaged, my torso as upright as possible (but not to run with my chest), and my arms loose. This supports your upper body so that your legs absorb the impact properly and undue stress doesn’t fall on your knees. Also, to use the full ‘expression’ of my foot as I land on the heel and roll to the toe, instead of the flat-footed shuffle-hunch you see a lot of runners doing.

3. A note on breathing: don’t forget to. Try to keep it relaxed and rhythmic. If you let it get haggard or stressed and go into oxygen deprivation you’re doomed. The best way to do this is don’t pay attention to it at all, unless you can do so without altering it.

4. A note on shoes: avoid bells and whistles. Supplementing support can weaken your feet in the long run, so unless you have a condition that requires extra-help, go for the basic.

5. It’s only when I notice that I’m getting close to my goal that I get fatigued and feel strained. Resist the urge to break before you planned, it’s much harder to start back up than to keep going. If you can break through the panic and distract your thoughts your body will carry you. Music was key, especially when I started. Anything with a bounce and lyrics that kept my head busy. I’ve included some suggestions. Please feel free to post your own in the comments.

6. Some other things that seem obvious but that I had to figure out for myself: run on an almost empty stomach, and don’t drink a lot of water during. Some near vomiting taught me these valuable pointers.

7. A note on venues: I am in love with my YMCA, which I joined in order to run. Because I am not a morning person, I like to run at night, but not on the streets of Brooklyn. The Y is great. I’d heard this before, but I really believe it now. I like that it’s a non-profit, filled with families, has guitar and art lessons, and that I get a discount for belonging to my local food co-op (they have all kinds of discounted local affiliations).

Music to Run to:
Blondie, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Gaga, Robyn, Janelle Monae, Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, Jay-Z’s wife, MGMT, Old-school hip-hop, and ‘80’s classics.

3 Responses to “Tips for the Newbie Track Star”
  1. Julie Henderson says:

    omg! you are hilarious!! i love it! Great music choices! I know this is cheezey but i love the ROCKY soundtrack as well to run to!! Music really saves the day!

  2. Angela says:

    Great tips, Leona! I used to be a runner, I have ran one marathon and many half marathons and I think the one thing that I love the running with friends! Since I have had my 2nd child, running has become a bit harder to fit in, I have the double stroller, but it is a pain to run and push two kiddos! There is nothing like running on a beautiful, crisp, fall morning. I miss those days, I am trying to incorporate running back into my life. I love running to the song “Footloose”! 🙂 Thank you!

  3. Aimee says:

    I need to take your words of advice and get practicing for the run/walk this November. And download some of the tunes you mentioned to keep me moving!

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