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Out There: 11 Truths New Runners Must Accept

Columnist Susan Lacke writes a letter to the new runners of 2017.

Dear New Runners,

Congratulations on choosing a running resolution for this brand new year! You made a very, very good choice. That’s surprising, given that we can’t say the same about most other decisions you’ve made under the influence of champagne.

You’re not alone—thousands of runners, including yours truly, started off just like you. The New Year marks the beginning of many, many running journeys—some lasting decades, others lasting mere minutes on January 1 before hanging up the shoes in a slew of hungover profanities.

You’ve probably done at least a little bit of research on running, so I won’t bore you with the many clichés you’ll hear again and again — “Running will change your life,” “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch,” “Are you going to do something about those bleeding nipples?” Instead, there are a bunch more important things that never really seem to get mentioned. Things like…

For a while, you’re probably not going to like it very much.

Running kind of sucks. Make no mistake—races are fun and the runner’s high is a very real phenomenon, but it takes a while to get to the enjoyable stuff. Your first few months of running will be a lot like puberty—awkward, confusing, and full of strange discoveries about your body. Just know this: It’s totally normal, don’t be scared, and you may want to check out a few Judy Blume books to read on the treadmill.

It’s okay to walk. Scratch that—plan on walking.

This troubled me a lot as a new runner. I made a New Year’s resolution to finish a 5K race, and thought training for it involved running nonstop. So my first day, I set out to run 30 minutes, went until I got out of breath/tired/frustrated, then stopped to berate myself for not being able to make it for more than a few minutes (running is hard, man.) No one told me I could take walk breaks, so I’m telling you now—take the freakin’ walk break.

“Do it for the selfie” ain’t gonna cut it.

Make a list of reasons to run that have nothing to do with how many people double-tap the photo of your medal on Instagram. What will get you out the door for your run the day you discover no one really cares you’re running? (Because—and this is a hard truth for most of us to accept—no one really cares you’re running.)

While you’re at it…

Please raise your right hand, don your best Joan Crawford voice and repeat after me: “No selfie sticks! EVER!” The trails have enough hazards as it is. Plus, you look like an idiot.

Spandex wants to make you cry.

The first time you don a pair of running tights can be an undignified experience (“My thighs are shaped like that?”). Unless you hum the theme from “Batman” and pretend you’re running after the bad guys. Then it’s actually pretty badass.

You stink.

Resist the urge to put off laundry day by re-wearing yesterday’s running shorts. There are some things in the world you just can’t un-smell, and two days worth of crotch sweat is one of them.

Self-control is sometimes close to impossible.

You’ll soon develop a newfound appreciation for food—it’s the fuel that gets you through your miles, after all. Going forward, don’t be surprised if your body begins to crave fresh, healthy ingredients. You should heed that call and make yourself a salad or something. But be more prepared for the onset of Runger, or post-run hunger, in which you start voraciously shoving food—any food—into your face hole. Yes, your body is a temple, but sometimes the temple demands those tasty-looking Oreos on the altar.

You will learn more about your digestive system than you ever wanted to know.

The day you figure out how to consistently poop before a run may very well be the greatest day of your life. Please, wash your hands before doling out the celebratory high-fives.

Haters gon’ hate.

This is the time of year when a small group of last year’s gym-goers loudly complain about newbies like you clogging up the treadmills and trails. I don’t know why they do this, but I assume it’s because their rear ends are sore from riding such high horses. Smile, shake it off, and keep showing up.

Don’t be That Guy next year.

All the aforementioned people complaining about you right now have forgotten they were new runners once. I beg of you, don’t follow their example. The world has enough jerks—we don’t need to add to their ranks. As you become more confident and accomplished as a runner (and you will become more confident and accomplished), don’t forget how those first runs felt.

Like it or not, you’re one of us.

Runners are weird. They wear weird clothes, eat weird foods, and obsess over weird things. They wake up at weird times to perform weird exercises and record weird data about what their weird bodies accomplished. Right now, as a new member of our group, you may recognize that weirdness, but here’s the really weird thing: pretty soon, all of this will become completely normal to you.

Welcome to the family, weirdo. We’re glad you’re here.


About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). Susan lives and trains in Salt Lake City, Utah with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete husband. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke.