For those who are considering running, here are 10 things I wish I had known when I started. Much of it was advice from my father (a marathoner) that took a while to sink in.
1) Lacing up and leaving the house is the hardest moment of any run. You never regret it once you are en route. (Length of time ignored: one year.)
2) Nothing is ever as bad as your first run. No other run will induce that level of fear and pain. There are legions of people who believe that every run will feel like that first time. It never does.
3) Cover your feet in Vaseline each time you run for longer than about fifteen minutes. Not only will it stop blisters—especially if it rains—but it will mean deliciously moisturized feet on your return. (Length of time ignored: two years.)
4) Running in the rain is not perilous but, actually, quite good fun. It proves the adage about there being no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothing.
5) Don’t eat too much before a run. Two bananas and a three-egg omelet are not necessary; that’s just more to carry around with you. You are a healthy woman, not an elite athlete, so you have plenty of reserves. (Length of time ignored: three years.)
6) There is an extraordinary market in D-plus-cup sports bras that has clearly employed the skills of some of the world’s finest engineers. If you rub Vaseline around your rib cage, you’ll be even more comfortable.
7) Don’t pay attention to anyone else once you’re out there. They are either absorbed by what they are doing or looking on in admiration. If you can’t do that, get a cap. (Length of time ignored: two and a half years.)
8) No one cares what you look like when you’re running. Ever. Whether it’s clean, cool, or baggy. Those first few runs do feel as if you’re thundering down a catwalk surrounded by sneering professionals, but that feeling disappears as you realize you just want to be comfortable—and that the rare glance might not be so bad after all.
9) Stop stealing other people’s running socks, they don’t fit you properly! (Length of time ignored: five years and counting.)
10) You might enjoy it.