5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Started Running

When I first got into running, I experienced everything from painful blisters to chafing to unsupported bosoms ¡ª no wonder I hated it. I wish someone had sat me down and told me these basic tips and tricks to help smooth my transition from nonrunner to runner. If you’re just starting out on your own journey pounding the pavement or treadmill belt, here are things you should know about running.

It Gets Easier

As with most things, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. To strengthen your muscles, acclimate your heart and lungs, and increase your endurance, run at least three times a week. Start off with a doable distance such as two miles. Once that distance feels good, gradually increase your mileage. The key is to move at a comfortable pace for a reasonable amount of time. If you do too much too soon, you could end up with an injury or a deep hatred for the sport.

You Don’t Have to Wear Two Sports Bras

If you’re well-endowed, running can be painful. I wore two sports bras for the longest time because I couldn’t find one that prevented the uncomfortable bounce. A cheap cotton sports bra from Target just won’t do. You might have to spend $50 or more, but it’s worth it when you only have to wear one bra you trust.

Don’t Skimp on Gear

For my first run, I picked up a $25 pair of sneaks and a pack of cheap cotton socks and wondered why I had screaming blisters. You don’t need a ton of gear, but what you do need, you shouldn’t skimp on. Spring for a trusty pair of well-fitting sneaks ($60-$120), a good pair of wicking socks ($10-$15), a super supportive sports bra ($30-$70), a seamless tank to prevent chafing ($20-$40), and a lightweight pair of running shorts to avoid wedgies ($20-$40). Technical gear specifically designed for running makes a huge difference and could make or break your new running career.

There Are Apps to Chart Your Run

I often drove running routes in my car to figure out mileage until my hubby introduced me to the wonderful world of iPhone running apps. The GPS not only keeps track of your distance, but it’ll also chart your workout time, pace, calories burned, and elevation and give you a map of your run. Being able to track your workout might motivate you to keep going so you can beat your personal records.

Running Outside Is Harder Than the Treadmill

My power was out one morning ¡ª meaning no treadmill time for me ¡ª so I decided to run outside instead. It was so much harder! The real hills, the uneven terrain, the wind, the sun, the heat ¡ª it all makes running tougher than it already is. But I’ll tell you, once I started running outside, I saw a huge improvement in my strength and endurance. I even lost the five extra pounds I could never quite shake, and my muscle definition was noticeable to others (“Damn, look at your calves!”). I know people are in love with their treadmills, but I wish someone suggested I run outside because the difficulty made me a better runner.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell

5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Started Running

When I first got into running| I experienced everything from painful blisters to chafing to unsupported bosoms ¡ª no wonder I hated it. I wish someone had sat me down and told me these basic tips and tricks to help smooth my transition from nonrunner to runner. If you’re just starting out on your own journey pounding the pavement or treadmill belt| here are things you should know about running.

It Gets Easier

As with most things| the more you do it| the easier it becomes. To strengthen your muscles| acclimate your heart and lungs| and increase your endurance| run at least three times a week. Start off with a doable distance such as two miles. Once that distance feels good| gradually increase your mileage. The key is to move at a comfortable pace for a reasonable amount of time. If you do too much too soon| you could end up with an injury or a deep hatred for the sport.

You Don’t Have to Wear Two Sports Bras

If you’re well-endowed| running can be painful. I wore two sports bras for the longest time because I couldn’t find one that prevented the uncomfortable bounce. A cheap cotton sports bra from Target just won’t do. You might have to spend $50 or more| but it’s worth it when you only have to wear one bra you trust.

Don’t Skimp on Gear

For my first run| I picked up a $25 pair of sneaks and a pack of cheap cotton socks and wondered why I had screaming blisters. You don’t need a ton of gear| but what you do need| you shouldn’t skimp on. Spring for a trusty pair of well-fitting sneaks ($60-$120)| a good pair of wicking socks ($10-$15)| a super supportive sports bra ($30-$70)| a seamless tank to prevent chafing ($20-$40)| and a lightweight pair of running shorts to avoid wedgies ($20-$40). Technical gear specifically designed for running makes a huge difference and could make or break your new running career.

There Are Apps to Chart Your Run

I often drove running routes in my car to figure out mileage until my hubby introduced me to the wonderful world of iPhone running apps. The GPS not only keeps track of your distance| but it’ll also chart your workout time| pace| calories burned| and elevation and give you a map of your run. Being able to track your workout might motivate you to keep going so you can beat your personal records.

Running Outside Is Harder Than the Treadmill

My power was out one morning ¡ª meaning no treadmill time for me ¡ª so I decided to run outside instead. It was so much harder! The real hills| the uneven terrain| the wind| the sun| the heat ¡ª it all makes running tougher than it already is. But I’ll tell you| once I started running outside| I saw a huge improvement in my strength and endurance. I even lost the five extra pounds I could never quite shake| and my muscle definition was noticeable to others (“Damn| look at your calves!”). I know people are in love with their treadmills| but I wish someone suggested I run outside because the difficulty made me a better runner.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell

Should You Be Going Gluten-Free?

Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration’s rules about what can be called gluten-free were finally set in place, a standard that had been a year in the making. Now, a product labeled gluten-free must meet certain requirements, including ensuring any food that has been processed to remove gluten must not contain gluten levels over 20 parts per million. This is great news for those who are allergic to gluten, such as people with celiac disease, but should you reach for gluten-free goods even if you aren’t?

Miley Cyrus, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Oprah Winfrey are just a few celebs who have touted the gluten-free lifestyle at some point. Because of its high-profile endorsements, many people believe that adopting a gluten-free diet can help them have more energy, lose weight, have clearer skin, and feel healthier overall, even when they have no idea what gluten is (which Jimmy Kimmel hilariously pointed out on his show). Gluten-free products have cropped up on supermarket shelves around the country, exponentially more than the prevalence of gluten sensitivities (which spells good news for those who used to search high and low for suitable foods!).

An opinion piece in the Annals of Internal Medicine, however, says that going on a gluten-free diet for nonmedical reasons is a waste of money, since many people invest in expensive gluten-free foods that end up containing more carbs, sugar, and calories than their gluten-filled counterparts. While only about eight to 12 percent of people buy gluten-free goods because they have a gluten intolerance ¡ª including the one in 133 who have celiac disease ¡ª one poll found that 35 percent of people asked thought that “gluten-free” meant healthier. And while it’s true that giving up things like pizza, pasta, and bread does mean low-carb, buying products labeled gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be eating low-carb ¡ª the carbs and calories in all those gluten-free cookies and bagels are, unfortunately, still there.

Even so, one study did show a benefit to going gluten-free, even if you don’t know you’re intolerant. The study looked at over 3,000 individuals and found that those with a gluten sensitivity who didn’t know about it had fewer gastrointestinal issues and general improvement of heath when they were placed on a gluten-free diet. But, as the authors warn, more research is necessary to find out if it could be something else in wheat flour, not gluten, that’s causing the sensitivity in some people.

There’s also a possible beneficial effect from just believing a gluten-free diet is helpful. Tennis pro Novak Djokovic famously went from loser to winner with what his trainer says is the result of a shift to a strict gluten-free diet, which has helped him lose weight and overcome mental blocks to vastly improve his game. And although the tennis star is allergic to gluten, his trainer says that other people may benefit from gluten-free diets, even if it’s only due to a placebo effect, and some experts agree. “If you believe in a cause of your disorder, it becomes the cause,” says David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University. “We see this in many different studies. If you believe it, you change your behavior in the direction of being cured.”

It’s true that it’s important to realize that gluten-free doesn’t equal low-carb or healthier. You won’t necessarily lose weight from eating a gluten-free diet, and you’ll just be restricting your diet for no reason. However, if you think you may have a gluten sensitivity, eliminating it from your diet may help you feel better (just make sure you stick to whole, unprocessed foods and fresh fruits and vegetables) ¡ª whether or not it’s all in your head.

Image Source: Thinkstock

Should You Be Going Gluten-Free?

Earlier this week| the Food and Drug Administration’s rules about what can be called gluten-free were finally set in place| a standard that had been a year in the making. Now| a product labeled gluten-free must meet certain requirements| including ensuring any food that has been processed to remove gluten must not contain gluten levels over 20 parts per million. This is great news for those who are allergic to gluten| such as people with celiac disease| but should you reach for gluten-free goods even if you aren’t?

Miley Cyrus| Gwyneth Paltrow| and Oprah Winfrey are just a few celebs who have touted the gluten-free lifestyle at some point. Because of its high-profile endorsements| many people believe that adopting a gluten-free diet can help them have more energy| lose weight| have clearer skin| and feel healthier overall| even when they have no idea what gluten is (which Jimmy Kimmel hilariously pointed out on his show). Gluten-free products have cropped up on supermarket shelves around the country| exponentially more than the prevalence of gluten sensitivities (which spells good news for those who used to search high and low for suitable foods!).

An opinion piece in the Annals of Internal Medicine| however| says that going on a gluten-free diet for nonmedical reasons is a waste of money| since many people invest in expensive gluten-free foods that end up containing more carbs| sugar| and calories than their gluten-filled counterparts. While only about eight to 12 percent of people buy gluten-free goods because they have a gluten intolerance ¡ª including the one in 133 who have celiac disease ¡ª one poll found that 35 percent of people asked thought that “gluten-free” meant healthier. And while it’s true that giving up things like pizza| pasta| and bread does mean low-carb| buying products labeled gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be eating low-carb the carbs and calories in all those gluten-free cookies and bagels are| unfortunately| still there.

Even so| one study did show a benefit to going gluten-free| even if you don’t know you’re intolerant. The study looked at over 3|000 individuals and found that those with a gluten sensitivity who didn’t know about it had fewer gastrointestinal issues and general improvement of heath when they were placed on a gluten-free diet. But| as the authors warn| more research is necessary to find out if it could be something else in wheat flour| not gluten| that’s causing the sensitivity in some people.

There’s also a possible beneficial effect from just believing a gluten-free diet is helpful. Tennis pro Novak Djokovic famously went from loser to winner with what his trainer says is the result of a shift to a strict gluten-free diet| which has helped him lose weight and overcome mental blocks to vastly improve his game. And although the tennis star is allergic to gluten| his trainer says that other people may benefit from gluten-free diets| even if it’s only due to a placebo effect| and some experts agree. “If you believe in a cause of your disorder| it becomes the cause|” says David Levitsky| a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University. “We see this in many different studies. If you believe it| you change your behavior in the direction of being cured.”

It’s true that it’s important to realize that gluten-free doesn’t equal low-carb or healthier. You won’t necessarily lose weight from eating a gluten-free diet| and you’ll just be restricting your diet for no reason. However| if you think you may have a gluten sensitivity| eliminating it from your diet may help you feel better (just make sure you stick to whole| unprocessed foods and fresh fruits and vegetables) ¡ª whether or not it’s all in your head.

Image Source: Thinkstock