Tips for New Runners

It seems like I always think about food when I run.

Sure I think about other things, like my to-do list or upcoming events, but inevitably toward the end of a run, my mind wanders toward my next meal.

Sadie and I covered just more than five miles on our run this morning and during the last mile, my thoughts were dedicated to breakfast.

A strawberry banana smoothie sounded perfect.

Frozen Strawberries

After a quick shower, I got to work in the kitchen creating a thick, cool and creamy breakfast smoothie.

Into the blender went:

Strawberry Banana Goodness

Blended Up

I poured my smoothie in a large coffee tumbler to enjoy.

Smoothie Time!

I like my smoothies really thick and ate the majority of the smoothie with a spoon.


Me + Smoothie + Spoon

Though I do love Green Monsters, my heart really lies with a good old fashioned strawberry banana smoothie. I mean c’mon, it’s pink!

My Tips for New Runners

When I first received a reader request to compile a list of my tips for new runners, I initially thought I’m not qualified to do that!

As I’ve said before (and as you can see from my running story) I am by no means a gifted runner, but I had the desire to run.

Then, when I thought about it, I figured this probably describes a lot of new runners out there: People who want to run but feel a little overwhelmed or intimidated by running or assume they just don’t have the “running gene.”

I am simply a girl who wanted to run and eased my way into running by starting slow and keeping at it.

That being said, here are my tips for new runners:

  • Invest in a good pair of running shoes. I run in Mizuno Wave Riders (which I do not think are cute, but offer the comfort and support I need). I used to run in Nike Shox which were super cute, but gave me blisters. Not a good idea. Save the Shox for strength training!

My First Pair of Real Running Shoes

  • Start slow. Don’t overwhelm yourself by setting out to run five miles right off the bat. Start with a mile, then add a little more, and a little more until you reach the distance you’ve set out to accomplish.
  • Don’t worry about your time. If you’re truly a new runner, don’t worry about how fast you’re running. Just get out there and run! Whether you run a mile at a 7-minute pace or a 12-minute pace, run at the pace that feels right for you.
  • Set a goal. Whether your goal is to simply run three miles without stopping or compete in a 5k, 10k, half or full marathon, having something to work toward may help keep you motivated.

Running in a 10k

  • Research the training plan that is right for you. If you desire a little direction when it comes to training to reach your goal, search for a training plan to follow. There are lots of plans out there, from the popular Couch to 5k plan to marathon training. Some plans incorporate speed drills and hill running, while others stick to simple, long runs. Choose the one that’s right for you, your running abilities and your goals.

Running Race Recaps:

Here are a few links to races I’ve run within the past couple months:

Your Tips for New Runners

Here are tips for new runners straight from YOU:

  • From Elizabeth: Go to a running specialty store and have them fit you for YOUR perfect shoes.  Have them look at your feet and how you run so they can put you in the right shoe for you.  This will make running more comfortable and help keep you injury free! Set a goal.  Look online sign-up for a local 5k or 10k to work towards.  You can always walk the race! HAVE FUN! Don’t stress over pace and distance.  Start out going for time.  Walk/run if you need to.
  • From Vee: Start slow, mix it up with walking, then walk less, run more. And once you can run your distance, start working on other things – speed, longer distance etc.
  • From Ange: Invest in a Nike plus running system or the more expensive Garmin to track your progress & inspire! Treat yourself to a new running outfit at the end of every month. Make up fun playlists every week and run at a faster pace during fast songs. Eat complex carbs about at least 2 hrs before your run.
  • From Kait: I started by walking, then mixing walking with running, and then finally setting out on running adventures slowly upping my distance. I guess my best advice is don’t try too much all at once and stick with it, you’ll build the endurance over time.
  • From Katie: For brand-y new runners, definitely don’t go out there with some time or speed goals! Just get out there and run and have fun.  Take walking breaks, and slowly increase distance so you don’t hurt yourself (stress fractures love overtrainers!).  Don’t try to run every single day or again, overuse or just plain boredom set in.   Signing up for a 5k after your comfortable running 2-3 miles would be a fun goal!
  • From Angela: Start with the ‘jog for 2 minutes, walk for 1’ method, then work up from there. And don’t forget to stretch after, especially if your body isn’t used to working out on a regular basis (we don’t like injuries!!).
  • From Anna: I would definitely say to start slow and not get frustrated. Adding a little distance or time each week can seem really slow, but it adds up fast!
  • From Kelly: My tips for new runners would be to listen to your body and start slowly. Never increase your mileage each week by more than 10% to avoid injury!
  • From Holly: I think a good tip when starting is to just run light post to light post & then walk to the next one & do it all over! Or pick a particular thing & say ‘I’m just going to run to that stop sign’…and typically once you get to the stop sign (for example) you want to keep going.
    Also picking out good fast beat songs to listen to is another one. I love anything that pumps me up (usually rap- haha!).
  • From Kelly and Lindsey: I think one of the best tips is to get fitted for running shoes at a specialty running store…and not just buy any old shoes.

Real Man Shake

Breakfast this morning was served in one of Ryan’s massive protein shake cups. 

I felt like I was drinking a real man shake. 😉 

Green Monster Man Shake

Ryan drinks several protein shakes a day out of these cups. He gets them for free when he buys exorbitant amounts of protein online, so we have about a billion of them. 

Apparently I added an entire bush-worth of spinach to my green monster smoothie today because it was ginormous, as Buddy the Elf would say. 

"Have you seen Julie's green monster? It's ginormous!"

Into the mix went:

Green Goodness

It was thick, filling and, of course, terribly unattractive and green. 

I know I’ve said it before, but I love the way I feel after downing one of these bad boys. Cheesy as it sounds, they make me feel alive! It’s probably all in my head, but I’ll take it! 😀 

I'm Alive!


Today’s BodyPump class was emptyyy. Apparently no one was feelin’ the gym today, because there were less than half the amount of people who are normally there in class this morning. 

I actually missed the energy of a packed class! I like the “we’re all in this together” feeling I usually get during such an early morning group exercise class and I missed it a bit today. Still, the instructor did a great job, as always, and I got a good workout. Success! 

After Pumpin’ it up, I did 25 minutes of light cardio on the elliptical while reading about the latest celebrity trash. I think those celebrity gossip magazines are great gym reading material because they’re basically like picture books! Since it can be hard to read while working out, they’re a perfect fit. 

Do you like celebrity gossip magazines? 

I used to try and hide it, but who am I kidding? I love that stuff. Do I care that Carrie Underwood is engaged. Yes, I do. 🙂

Chocolate > Spinach

After indulging in my own mini Cookie Sunday and having several slices of my friend Courtney’s cake last night, my body was cravin’ some serious nutrients this morning.

Thank goodness I picked up a large bag of spinach at the grocery store yesterday because a MASSIVE green monster sounded perfect after my morning workout.

Spinach Overload

It’s still almost incomprehensible to me that I cannot taste the spinach in my smoothie when there is practically an entire bush in there.

I’m not complaining though because taste-wise, chocolate > spinach.

My green monster included:

  • 5 lbs. of spinach… almost.
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 large frozen banana
  • Ice cold water
  • Bob’s Red Mill xanthan gum
  • Fresh strawberries

Green Monster with Sliced Strawberries

Doesn’t that look ridiculously thick?

It definitely was super thick and I owe it to a combination of the frozen banana and the xanthan gum, a gluten-free thickener and natural carbohydrate.

Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum

Monday Morning Breakfast

Red + Green = Christmas in a Bowl

My body is happier already!


This morning I took my typical Monday morning BodyPump class. This was my first time doing the latest release and it was a goodie.

My chest was burning by the end of the chest track! (It’s really too bad that working out your chest doesn’t make your lil’ girlies grow. 😉 )

After the ‘Pump, I did 20 minutes of light cardio on the elliptical with the June 2009 issue of Women’s Health (slim pickings on the magazine rack today), followed by five minutes of incline walking.

Best Packaged Foods For Women

Women’s Health comprised a list of the best packaged foods for women, sorted into categories ranging from veggies, soups and snacks to condiments, sweets, frozen meals and dairy.

Naturally I went right to the sweets category to check out the “best frozen yogurt.”  The winner was:

Ben & Jerry’s FroYo Chocolate Fudge Brownie
The delicious chocoholic blend not only is thigh-friendly but also delivers 150 milligrams of calcium. Builds bone; fights heart disease.
Per 1/2 cup: 170 cal, 2.5 g fat (0.5 g sat), 34 g carbs, 95 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 5 g protein

You can check out other winners here.

Cramping + Critters

This morning when the alarm went off at 5:30 a.m., I made the executive decision to go back to sleep and skip BodyPump this morning.

Sleep = Good

There’s an 8:30 a.m. BodyPump class on Saturdays at my gym, so I figured I’d flip flop my Friday and Saturday workouts in favor of a little extra sleep time this morning. (Stay tuned for a BodyPump overview post tomorrow!)

Instead of the ‘Pump, I leashed up the pup for a run outside.

I intended to do a large loop that typically takes about 50 minutes to complete.

About 10 minutes into my run, as I was breathing in and out, a BUG flew in my MOUTH! Ick. After hacking and spitting for a good minute, our run resumed.

Not long after the creepy crawly incident, I had to stop again, this time due to some serious cramping. 😦

Do you ever get cramps when you work out?

I usually run without cramps unless I eat something too soon before a run. That was not the case today, so I couldn’t understand why I kept cramping up!

I think my water intake was much lower than normal yesterday, so that may have been a contributor.

The cramping was really strong in my left side, so I took a long walking break and finished the run by alternating running and walking. Surprisingly Sadie and I finished the whole loop in 55 minutes, only 5 minutes slower than we usually do when we run the whole thing.

Preventing the Side Stitch

After my cramping incident, I looked up ways to prevent future side stitches and found the following tips (source):

  • Take even, deep breaths while running.
  • Time your eating. Having food in your stomach during a workout may increase cramping by creating more force on the ligaments (Avoid eating one to two hours before a workout).
  • Stretching may prevent or relieve a cramp. Raise your right arm straight up and lean toward the left. Hold for 30 seconds, release, then stretch the other side.
  • Slow down your pace until pain lessens.
  • Breathe deep to stretch the diaphragm.
  • Drink before exercise. Dehydration can increase muscle cramps.
  • Massage or press on the area with pain. Bend forward to stretch the diaphragm and ease the pain.


Even though my run wasn’t exactly amazing, it still felt good to get outside and sweat with Sadie.

I came home and made myself a cold and super-thick green monster.

Blend Me Up!

Check out all that spinach!

My smoothie included:

  • 1.5 scoops chocolate protein powder
  • 1.5 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 frozen banana
  • An entire salad’s worth of spinach
  • Water
  • Pinch of Bob’s Red Mill xanthan gum

Two things surprised me about this smoothie:

  1. It still tasted really creamy when I used water instead of milk
  2. Xanthan gum is no joke! That stuff really thickened up my smoothie! Love it.

Green Monster


Because I feel the need to eat something, not just drink something, in the morning, I also had a piece of lightly buttered toast.


I’m so happy it’s Friday!!! 😀