Idiot Runner Girl answers questions about running

It’s insane the amount of people who have come to me in the past few months and said that I have inspired them to start running. I don’t see why, I’m not fast and I’m not breaking any records. But what I am is determined, stubborn, and refusing to give up. I’m a real person out there running, giving it everything I’ve got.

A lot of those same people have been asking me quesitons about running lately, and I figured that a running FAQ was in order. I want to preface this with a little warning…I am not in any way, shape, or form a pro. I just know what works for me and am willing to share what I know with you and if that helps you in some way, then I’m totally stoked to have given you some kind of advice that will make this experience a little bit better…or may make you want to lace up some sneakers and meet me to pound some pavement.

Easy question first, James. How do you run? First – you need to make the concrete decision that this is something you are willing to put the time and effort into. I’m serious. This isn’t something you are going to wanna half ass. It’s gonna hurt, it’s going to take time, and it’s going to be a one of those “blood, sweat, and tears” things. Get yourself mentally prepared for that now.

Still wanna try it? Awesome, because it’s totally worth it. My advice on how to start running is simple: Go slow at first, and go short distances. Trying to go too far and too fast will make you miserable and make you want to give up. That’s not worth it. Instead, try a program like the Couch to 5K program or map something out that will allow you to run a quarter mile and then walk a quarter mile and do that for say a mile or two. And GO SLOW. Don’t try to push yourself into something you think you are ready for. Then, once that feels comfortable, bump it up to half a mile. Then bump it up to 3/4 mile. Soon, you’ll be running a mile and if you can do that, you can do two. And so on and so on.

As you go, remember to breathe. I know it sounds stupid, but trust me…that moment you realize you are dying you’ll be glad I said something. Just ask John Gaughan when he ran with me the entire first half of the year when I was training for the Gate after my injury. “Remember to breathe. You’re not breathing. In and out, Jamie” was all I heard for miles. Make it a mantra in your head. Breathe through your nose AND your mouth on the in, but breathe out through your mouth.

What do you wear when you run? I wear whatever is comfortable at the time. In summer, I tend to run in as little as possible because of the heat, and in the colder temps I tend to layer in tighter, form fitting layers but only enough to stay warm. I don’t generally go with brand name gear except for Champion because they make awesome compression sports bras.

I do, however, believe in getting fitted for running shoes. Before you even think about taking a step outside and going for your first run you need to hop into that car of yours and drive out to your local runner’s store (In Jacksonville it’s 1st Place Running or Jacksonville Running Company) and go get fitted. Yes, the fitting will be a bit time consuming as they measure your feet, figure out where your weight distrubution is and then go through shoes to figure out what works but getting fitted for the right kind of running shoes for your feet will save you from injury and will improve your run significantly. Both John and Richard Nunn had told me to go and get fitted for shoes after I started running again and I’m so glad they did. The shoes are the most important part of your attire. I also get my running socks from the running stores. They are the second most important part of your attire.

Ladies, a really awesome fitting sports bra? Also important. Champion compression sports bras. Target. Get you some. Big or small, they will thank you.

What about all that tech gear stuff? Garmin and whatnot? I really want a Garmin. Like REALLY want a Garmin. I want the Garmin that has the heart rate monitor on it so I can monitor my heart rate because I have this little problem with over doing it. HOWEVER – I’m on a very tight budget and can’t afford the very intense price tag that is on said Garmin and still take care of the other things that I want, including race entires. So…I have a cheap stop watch thing that I got at Walmart that I use to time my runs. It’s black, grey and purple, and it cost me $8. Now that I own an iPhone I downloaded the RunKeeper app and I use that while I run and it keeps my pace, my time, my milage, and all that other fancy stuff. I do, however…still want a Garmin.

In reality though…you can go to MapMyRun and map out a run on there to figure out milage and then grab a cheapy stop watch kind of thing and go. It’s not important to have all the tech stuff. All you REALLY need is sneakers and the open road. And maybe a music player if you are like me and can’t run without music.

HOWEVER – and this is a biggie, I do think that everyone should have some kind of ID on them at all times while they are running or carry their phone with them. I like RoadID, and am going to be getting one for my birthday. It has all your information on it and you can get it in bracelet or anklet form. Think of it as a dog tag. And I run with my phone. That way if something happens when I run alone, I have a way to contact someone to help me.  Also – if you run at night…BLINKIES. You can probably get them free at a big race’s expo or purchase them from the net…but a flashing light to let drivers know you are there is a life saver. It’d suck to get hit by a car when you are out trying to do an easy 5

What keeps you motivated? My reflection in the mirror. The fact that my sister Heather, my friend and running partner Kat, my husband Brian and everyone I run with at WJXT is faster than I am. Every clock time I have from every race. The desire to go longer, faster and be better.

It’s really hard to stay motivated, especially when you have a crappy run. Which you will. Not every run is going to be spectacular. But that’s why you need a coach or a cheerleader. That’s where I come in, and let me tell you…I make a fantastic cheerleader. Just ask Kat or Heather. I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement and hard work, but also rewards for goals reached no matter how small or meaningless you might think they are.

I highly recomend DailyMile as a website to sign up for to log your miles and chat with others. There is a lot of support there and you can find the link to my profile under the contact page.

Tell me about races. Where can I find one? Great question! In Jacksonville, I am constantly stalking the 1st Place Sports website because they have a section called a running calender that has pretty much all the road races here in town. If you aren’t local, I’m pretty sure you can google it, or check out They are usually pretty good about listing all the local road races.

And races are awesome. The sooner you register, the cheaper they are, so register early. And don’t scoff at the price. Not only is the cost covering your shirt, it’s also covering your water, your food, the police who will be stopping traffic for you, and if it’s for a charity, your donation. While I am on the WJXT running crew and do some races for free, I pay to do a bunch of them as well so I can make sure that some charities get their donations. My favorite so far has been the Wounded Warrior race in September.

Do you always race in costume or in a tutu? As often as I can. Why not? It’s fun to make and it’s fun to run in. I usually only run in costume or in a tutu for the big races. The Gate River Run is a big one, the St. Patty’s Day run is another. I’m seriously thinking about making a big yellow tutu for the Run To The Sun 8k in April, and maybe something patriotic for the 4th of July race (or I might just re-wear my blue one) I’m trying to come up with a costume or tutu idea for the half marathon series in the fall as well. But that’s a while away, and I have plenty of time.

Do you really run races with people who ask you to? Absolutely. 100% yes. I’ve had insane amounts of support from people who have helped me get to where I am and I’m still getting support from people who are helping me get better. And I support them just the same. I would do the same for anyone who came to me and said “You have inspired me, I want to run, if I sign up for a race, will you run it with me?” …the answer will be yes every time. I’ll even make us tutu’s to run in.

Got questions? Hit up the contact me page and ask me anything you want or leave it in the comments, and I’ll answer it right away! 🙂

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