When I set my mind to running the New York City Marathon I started reading a lot about running. Plus every person who ever ran at all started giving me advice. To me all the information was overwhelming, especially from random people who often conflicted with everything else I’d heard or read. So I decided to use the advice that my grandmother gave me when I was planning my wedding. She said, “Listen to everyone and then decide for yourself and do whatever the hell you want.” Good advice!
I kept listening to all the advice and to be honest, much of it was very good. I did, however, veer off the beaten path in several ways. The biggest item that I chose not to follow was about my running shoes. I’m sure some running god somewhere is ready to kill me for my sacrilege. I’d been told by just about everyone, expert and amateur, that I HAD to have 2 pairs of top quality shoes and that I HAD to get new ones every 300-500 miles or about every 6 months. I was warned that if I didn’t follow this cardinal rule I would get injured for sure. I was even told the night before my first marathon that I’d worn my shoes for too long (4 months) and that I would get hurt. (Thanks for the vote of confidence!)
The problem was that my running shoes (Asics by the way) felt much better after I’d been running in them for a while. I found that my stride seemed more natural and I had fewer blisters. Now, I’m sure some expert will say that I had the wrong shoes from the outset or something, but I truly like my shoes better when they are well broken in. I just go with the flow and how they feel. I figure that my body will tell me when things are not quite right if I just listen to it. Right now my running shoes are almost a year old and I love them!
I also went against the expert advice to drink sports drinks and the expensive recovery drinks that are hawked by every company out there. I listened to the advice of an amateur, yet accomplished, runner and drank Kool Aid with half the sugar and a dash of salt while running and then chocolate milk after a long run. Worked like a charm! I have since seen this same strategy mentioned by the experts.
To get a little more personal, I also never bought the requisite lycra sports bra. I stuck with my old standby cotton one and despite minor chafing along the seams no problems. I learned to apply a little Vaseline at the seams and the chafing was even less and I was comfortable!
If you’re new to running I recommend reading what the experts have to say and asking other runners what works for them, but ultimately you need to make the decisions about what works for you. No one else can feel what it feels like when you run. If you pay attention and listen to your body you’ll know when something isn’t right and then you can make an adjustment. As long as you don’t try to run 10 miles your first time out you’ll have plenty of time to adjust to what works for you. Listen to my grandmother’s advice and listen, but do whatever the hell you want.