8 Things That Surprised Me When I First Started Running

All posters via Runner’s World

When I first started really getting into running, I was totally a newbie to the sport–I’d never done track in middle or high school, I’d never enjoyed any time I’d spent on a treadmill, and I’d never run more than 4 miles at a time EVER before I started training for a marathon back in 2012.

Therefore, it should come as no shock that I was in for some definite surprises in my running journey.

Here are eight things that surprised me about running:

1.Running does not equal automatic weight loss.

Although running is supposed to be one of the best forms of cardio and one of the most efficient calorie-burning exercises, I usually don’t notice any difference on the scale until I’m 2-3 months into some hardcore training regimen, and even then, it’s iffy if I’ll actually lose weight. The culprit is simple, really—

Running makes you really, REALLY hungry. Like all the time. So if you’re running in order to lose weight, keep in mind that you can’t come home and just eat whatever you want just because you went on a run.

(Hey, I never said these 8 things would be revelatory, okay?)

2. Running does, however, really tone you up well.

Even though I know I should be doing strength training in addition to running, I very rarely get around to it. Lucky for me, running apparently is pretty much a total-body toner all of its own accord–I’ve especially noticed the difference in my arms.

(Which is weird, if you think about it—-your arms really don’t move that much during a run unless you’re sprinting, which I’m usually not, or unless you’re one of “those people” who run with their arms “like that.” So how on earth running can tone them up so well is a baffling mystery to me, even still.)

3. I can run a lot farther than I think I can.

Before I started training for my marathon, my usual limit at the gym on the treadmill was 2.5 miles–after that, I was convinced my lungs would collapse in a dying heap and I would have to be lifted off the treadmill by the sweaty guys who are always hogging the bench press machines.

Surprisingly though, when I started running really regularly (and–and I can’t stress this enough–running OUTSIDE), I discovered that I was always capable of going much farther than I thought possible, especially if I slowed down my pace a bit.

So if you’re convinced you can’t run more than a certain distance, try taking it at an easier pace—I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how far you can go.

4. Running longer distances requires intensive planning.

To me, whenever I thought about running a half marathon or a marathon, I only considered the actual running part. Once I actually started training for a race, I realized there was a whole lot more to worry about—namely, what I ate for up to 24 hours before a major run and what I actually had to ingest ON the run.

I quickly learned that taking in the wrong food or drink before or during a run spelled disaster in the worst way, and I’ve had to cut many a training run short due to having an irresistible need to find a bathroom, and pronto.

Lesson here = watch your fiber. Don’t eat whole wheat anything before a long run, and definitely lay off the beans (and in my case, leafy greens like spinach and kale).

5. Runners are actually supposed to run AGAINST the flow of traffic, not with it.

When I started running outside, I figured that running should be like biking—stay on the right side of the road, as far into the gutter as possible, and pray you don’t get hit. Apparently, that’s a major no-no: runners are actually supposed to run facing traffic while still staying as close to the side as comfortable.

And now all you drivers can stop cursing at those dang people who run on the “wrong” side of the road.

6. Once I’m into a running routine, it actually becomes relatively easy to keep up. Once I’m out of a running routine, it can take months to undo the damage that only took weeks to do.

Case in point: I had to take off 3 weeks from running over the past month due to sickness and work responsibilities, and I added a minute and a half back onto my regular mile time.


7. Although most runners complain  about how hard running is on their knees, I actual feel the majority of soreness in my hips.

I guess this one would depend on how much weight you’re carrying around, how that weight is distributed, and what your form is like when you run, but for me, I’ve VERY rarely experienced any knee discomfort whatsoever while running (even after running very long distances). However, I went on a 4.5-mile run this morning, and I was feeling my hips by mile 2. Go figure.

8. Through it all though, the thing that surprised me the most about running is that I actually LOVE it.

Considering how very much I was NOT a runner growing up (nor had any real desire to be one), I was shocked at how much it has really become a part of my life.

Have you ever given running a real shot? Did you learn anything surprising from the experience?

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