1) How to set reasonable goals
If you just completed a couch to 5K program, it is probably ill-advised to train for a 1:30 half-marathon. However, if you’ve completed a bunch of 5Ks and 10Ks, it is very reasonable to not just expect to finish a half-marathon.
Choose a goal race and pace within reason. Build long run and overall mileage by no more than 10% a week. If you are training only 3 days a week now, don’t jump into a 6 day training program. Injury and burnout will sideline you quickly.
2) How to prepare for obstacles
There will be a late meeting at work. It will rain for 4 days in a row. You will get a cold. Be as prepared as possible to keep excuses at bay. Get up before work to run if you constantly have interruptions in the evening.
Learn to love the rain or the treadmill. If you are too sick to work, you are too sick to run. Don’t try to make up missed mileage. Pick up where you left off when you are recovered.
3) How to be inspired, but avoid comparison
Some runners are best at 70 miles a week. Some are best at 20. Some runners can run a 17 minute 5K. Some are working to break 45 minutes. Social media has made it really easy to play the comparison game and get caught up with other people’s workouts or training regimens.
Allow yourself to be inspired to be the best version of you, but don’t get bogged down in comparing ability.
4) That you need to eat to run – not run to eat
Running does burn a lot of calories, but it is not an invitation for a buffet free-for-all. Many runners get caught up in allowing themselves extra treats or portions simply because they feel as though they’ve earned it.
In fact, a lot of runners gain weight while training because of this notion. Stick to reasonable sized portions and stop when you are sated.
5) That you will plateau
Beginning runners will likely to continue to improve if they stick with it. As you begin to increase mileage and speed, it will seem as though there is no limit to getting better. However, every consistent runner reaches a plateau eventually.
The remedy is usually time, but many runners will find themselves searching for a new training plan or a new pair of shoes to provide a magical fix.
6) That it doesn’t get easier, but it does become habitual
At some point, every runner will have the aha! moment in which they realize they are a runner. If faced with injury or illness, an experienced runner will often feel frustrated or angry that they cannot run.
It doesn’t mean that running suddenly becomes easier for those who have developed the habit. It just indicates that running has become a way of life.