I’m not an expert on running, but here is a list of things that I either wish I had known before my first race or that I was thankful someone told me before my first race.


1. That your arms can hurt worse than your legs while running and that chanting and music are amazing cures

Despite all of my efforts to cross-train, my arms remain pathetic twigs.  Because of this, and because of my “sports-induced asthma,” my arms and my breath tend to give out before my legs whenever I run for more than twenty minutes. During mile 6 of my first 10K, when I thought I couldn’t breathe, I started chanting to in my head like a Bhikkhuni. It went like this, “My legs will get me there, my breath will catch up.” I repeated this over and over again in my head until the end of the race and it worked so well that I’ve used “chanting” ever since.  It may sound psychotic but like Kyle said, “thinking about running is harder than running” – and chanting in my head keeps my mind off of what I’m actually doing.

Chanting is for desperate times so before I pull it out of my bag of tricks, I usually try a song. This Mumford and Sons song is my “magic juice” right now.

2.  That running can make nipples bleed

I would have been less shocked during my first 10K if someone would have warned me that nipples bleed during races. Marthoning men should get to wear sports bras without getting made fun of.  This is just not fair:

The girl in orange can’t believe it

3. That it’s harder to stop running and start again in the middle of a race than it is to keep running

This is what will happen to you if you stop moving during a race

It’s harder to stop running in the middle of a race than it is to just keep running – even if it looks like you are hobbling. If I were to stop running and start walking, I would never be able to start running again. Just trust me on this one, don’t be like Kitty.

Also, if you ever want to get up or move again after running farther/faster than usual, you should walk around for a few minutes before you completely stop. Coming to a complete stop after running for so long seriously hurts and makes me feel like I’m going to faint.

4. That running really gets the bowels moving, especially for men

If you’ve ever run/watched a big race you’ve noticed that within the first mile all of the men veer off to the side and pee. It’s crazy weird. Hundreds of them stop to pee before the first mile is complete. I’m guessing it’s nerves or drinking too much water pre-race, but please leave a comment explaining why this happens if you know.

To avoid painful bowel movements, take Christy and Kyle’s advice and stay away from that precious coffee pre-run (even if your race is before sunrise).

This was the start of the 10K two years ago and when Kyle and CJ told me that I shouldn’t have my morning coffee…I didn’t and I didn’t get a single cramp!

And you know those electrolyte things…yeah these guys:

The James Tribe LOVES these guys, but don’t take too many and make sure you have the right water-to-tab ratio or prepare for an upset stomach by mile three.

5. That a “runner’s high” is a real thing

The runner’s high keeps people coming back for more. That’s why everyone you know is either a runner or not.  The first race is the hardest because the hardest part about running a race is being brave enough to sign up and show up. The second race is easier because you understand that you are chasing a feeling, not racing your neighbor (and because you know it’s possible).

Bonus Secret About My First 10K: You always overestimate how hard your first new race will be. When I ran my first 10K I had never run more than a 5K (not even in training), but I ran the entire 10K. Believe in yourself because you can do it. Just keep pushing and keep your mind right. Once you do one race, you’ll think you can do them all……and then you’ll have a really bad day and never want to run again, but that’s another topic.