Back to My Roots: Tips for Beginners


So, some of you may have seen this post on Twitter yesterday.


Sigh. I was so ready for a nice, relaxing massage, and instead I spent an hour talking to someone who obviously knew NOTHING about running, but asking me a million questions. Was I annoyed? Heck yes! I paid money to relax! Not explain what a GPS watch is to you!

When I got home, I started doing some thinking. Was it wrong and very annoying what she did? Of course, BUT, at the same time, here was someone obviously very wowed by my running knowledge, eagerly wanting more info and tips. She actually jokingly (I think!) asked me to be her running coach. She also told me she would hate to see me kick someone as she was rubbing my calves. Is it weird that I took this as a major compliment by the way?


Anyway, here I was thinking “how can she not know what a Garmin watch is?” and “is she seriously asking me how I am supposed to know how far I have run “are there like, marks in the road that tell you?” As I began to feel slightly proud and cocky, I was immediately put in my place when I remembered that there was once a time when I didn’t know the answers to those questions.

How silly of me to assume that everyone knows how to get rid of a side cramp, and how you know what kind of shoes you need. To the “normal” world, these are not common knowledge issues. I do so much reading and research every day, it has become so easy for me to forget that everyone has to start from somewhere, and learn as they go.

So, I have decided to go “back to my roots” shall we say, and go over some things I wish I knew in the beginning but didn’t know.

GPS Watch/Garmin: These handy watches are amazing and it is my favorite piece of gear. They work via satellite and track your distance, pace, time, elevation, etc. Then you can plug it up to your computer and download your info to have for a training log, comparisons, etc. There are also phone apps for this purpose as well.

2011-08-07063016 (1)

(wearing my Garmin)

GU/Chomps: When I first started running I had no need for this as I was just running 3-4 miles at a time. When I got up to six miles I realized I needed to start using something for fuel. I was scared to try GU, the consistency seemed nasty, but now they are my BFF and I love trying the different flavors. I can’t do the chomps (if I can help it) because they get stuck in my teeth. The GU is easy to “suck down” when I see a water stop up ahead.


How to start training: If you are starting from scratch, I highly recommend the couch to 5k program. I have not done it myself but know people who have been very successful with it. We all start from somewhere, even if it’s your couch. YOU CAN DO THIS!

Sweat Wicking: You don’t want to run in cotton! It gets very heavy when you sweat and doesn’t feel good. Invest in some dri fit/sweat wicking workout clothes that wick moisture away from your body. I of course recommend running skirts for workout gear!


Log your workouts: It can be, or writing workouts in a journal, but keep track of what you do, and how you felt. That way you can look back to see how far you have come, what conditions you run best in, time of day, etc.

Body Glide: go buy some. You will thank me later when you don’t have burns and rashes all over and your friends do.

Walk Breaks: are perfectly normal. I hate that there is a stigma that if you walk during a run or a race you aren’t really a runner. I have done some experiments, and I actually race FASTER when I take a 20 second walk break every 7  minutes or so after I hit mile 8 of a half marathon. True story. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if you need to walk every now and then.

Rest: Being too ambitious in the beginning can get you burnt out or injured. Your body NEEDS rest days to recover and rebuild to make you stronger. Don’t forget to cross train as well. Build strength all over, and not just from running.


These are by NO MEANS all the tips there are, these are just a few off the top of my head I wish I had know starting out (and some my masseuse asked me!) As always, if you have ANY specific questions, please feel free to comment here or e mail me at I love hearing from readers!


Also wanted to add…I ran my FIST MILE since Thanksgiving Day today! It felt good! I took it slow, but ran the whole thing. I’m coming back! YAY!

QOTD: What is a running tip you wish you knew when you first started?

-Also of interest: This post I wrote on beginner running injuries.

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25 Responses to Back to My Roots: Tips for Beginners

  1. 1
    Sarah says:

    Those are great tips!! I am so glad that you are back to running! I am finally off the walk/jog schedule this week from my stress fracture!! Whoohoo to recovery!

  2. 2

    Great tips, and a great post!

  3. 3
    Amy Lauren says:

    These are really good tips! Honestly I was pretty long into my running career when I found out what things like “GU” and “chomps” were, just because I’ve never seen some of that stuff in stores here (Nor have I ever really used it, although someone sent me two for Christmas so I guess I’ll try them now). But yeah, it does kinda stink that the lady talked the whole time during what was supposed to be a relaxing massage.

    Couch to 5K is a really great program. We had people from my job do it and if you follow it by the book you can run a 5K with a pretty good time in that 8-9 weeks of the program. I’ve never done it, but my experience in motivating them has taught me that it really does work.

  4. 4

    I started my running life with the couch to 5K program in Nov 2010 and loved it. I recommend it to everyone!
    so, can you tell me that trick for getting rid of a side cramp? :)

  5. 5
    Nichole says:

    These are excellent tips. We all start somewhere! Buying new workout clothes is sure to inspire a few folks.

    And I completely loathe a masseuse talking the entire time.

  6. 6
    Tara Burner says:

    wow big fail on masseuses’ part but glad you found good and a blog post in it :)

    great tips!!!
    ironically I don’t have a Garmin and am sadly starting running from the beginners stage again compliments of back/hip/leg injury…

  7. 7

    Ahhhh yes. It’s so easy to forget the little things. I have been running (short distances) for years, so a lot of it seems so easy. However, I’ve just been adding on distance recently, so I’m a newbie all over again. I plan to use my first Gu packet on Saturday, actually.

  8. 8

    This is a great post!! I wish someone had told me some of these things when I started =) I am going to share this on my FB page!!
    Stinks that you couldn’t enjoy your massage! Maybe you could coach her for some free massages? =)

  9. 9
    Mindy says:

    Great tips! I am not necessarily a beginner but due to some health issues I take it slow. I am reaching the 6 mile mark in my training so I have begun to wonder about when I’ll need water/food. Right now I can do 5.5 miles without water but I’m not sure I can go much father beyond that. I will look into the GU product.

  10. 10
    Crystal says:

    Great post! I was fortunate to have my good friend tell me everything I needed (gear) and needed to do in preparation for my first half. I just did what she told me, and was great! I do wish I had been in the right shoes, though. Even though I had been fitted, it wasn’t until I started training for the wdw full that I realized I needed neutral not stability shoes! I could have avoided injury!

  11. 11
    Karolina says:

    i have a friend who is a massage therapist, and often complains to me when people don’t want to talk. I understand that side of it- i imagine it would be really boring to sit in silence all day in a dark room. I’d fall asleep, and talking helps keep you engaged. On the other hand, like you, I go get massages in part to relax, and I don’t necessarily want to answer a bunch of questions! I hope you felt good leaving, even if she did talk throughout!
    Congrats on being able to run again!

  12. 12

    Thank you so much for these awesome tips! I am a beginner and so these are very helpful. You didn’t mention how to get rid of side cramps though! I read that and then was hoping there would be more below…;-)

    • 12.1
      Heather says:

      haha so sorry!
      1.) it happens a lot to beginners, so push through it and the stronger you get the less it will happen
      2.) dont eat right before you run
      3.)it has to do with your breathing, so slow down or sto and walk, change your breathing cadence, it should go away. Sometimes pushing in and up on the side thats hurting helps, too!

  13. 13
    Keirstin says:

    I did Couch to 5k! It was perfect for me. I hated running, but knew a 5k was something I wanted to check off my bucket list… just to say I did it. By the end of the program, I was obsessed with running. I missed it on my off days! Thank you for the info on bodyglide. Never heard of it!

  14. 14

    […] Back to My Roots: Tips for Beginners [Running] :: Running with Sass […]

  15. 15
    kalee says:

    Great tips! I received some GU Gels/Chomps to try, and I have been debating when I need to eat them. Its great you are telling people to not just eat one right after a regular workout because your body won’t use it as well as long distance running!

  16. 16
    Emily says:

    Ugh!! I hate it when the masseuse talks to you during a massage. Don’t they know it’s my nap time? :)

    Great tips and CONGRATS on running a mile!! Welcome back! :)

  17. 17

    This is such a great post! I especially like the tip about walking during runs. I have always had this concept that if I walked during a run then I couldn’t count it as a run. Silly, not that I think about it. These really do help me want to stay more focused and train better!

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