What is a Newbie?

I’m currently training with a friend of mine, who jokes that she’s recently been referred to as a “newbie.” She’s been running her whole life, and she’s very good at it, so she’s hardly a newbie in my book. But how, exactly, does one classify a newbie?

Is it someone who’s only run a few races, and maybe only for charity/fun and not competitively? Maybe someone who runs slower than a certain pace? Could it be someone who hasn’t completed a marathon? (C’mon, that’s silly; marathons are hardly an indication of running expertise.)

So I asked myself, what is a newbie? And I was stumped. I can tell you how I felt when I joined a running group in Toronto, back when I was a “newbie” …

Oh. My. Gosh. All of the people in this group have run long-distance races. Who in their right mind runs 26 miles! Freaks!
I am totally wearing the wrong clothing. This old T-shirt doesn’t say the words “dry” or “fit” anywhere.
What the heck is a split? How does one know their splits?
And what’s the conversion between a mile and a kilometer? UGH.

What’s my pace? It’s the speed I go before I can’t talk anymore. I have no idea what that is.
I don’t have a watch. WHY didn’t I wear a watch?!?
I hope I can keep up; everyone looks so fast. 

The good news is that every running group has newbies. Every race has someone who’s running their first [insert distance].  I can’t tell you how long it takes to go from newbie to bona fide runner, but I can tell you this: it doesn’t matter how many races you’ve run, the distance you’ve covered, or the speed you move. You are a runner if you show up and believe in yourself.

It’s not about expertise, but about experience. I think that’s why people ask me for advice; I’ve experienced a lot of running scenarios, but I’m not necessarily an expert in anything. Just stay the course, and when you show up at a race more nervous about your goal than your running attire, you are probably no longer a running newbie.  — Amie


Respect the Distance

Hitting the WallI made a rookie mistake this weekend: I forgot to respect the distance and my body all but gave out.

When you increase your mileage week after week, you start to feel invincible. When you run eight miles, 10 doesn’t seem so bad, but there is a threshold, a point in which you need to respect the road, if you will. For me, it’s usually the 10-miler. I’ve made this mistake many times, but here I am again, shaking my head at my rookieness.

  • Give yourself plenty of time to eat and hydrate before your run. I ignored this and just drank coffee.
  • Take water and sustenance for the run itself. Did I do this? Nope.
  • Mentally prepare. I didn’t give it a second thought, even when Doug kept asking me, “Are you sure you want to run 10?”

When I passed the eight-mile marker, my fatigue all but consumed me — I was light-headed, delirious (hello, wall), and it hit me. I had done it again, I had made the same mistake again and I was going to have to shuffle home in shame, hopefully having learned my lesson this time.

Respect the road, respect the distance, respect your body, and only then will you reap the real benefits of distance running. — Amie

Successfully Failing

Recently, there has been a lot of attention on the importance of failure as it relates to character development. The theory goes that kids who have never failed actually withdraw from things they find challenging.

It makes sense. I actually know some adults like this — and quite a few more teenagers/young adults — who were raised in the “everyone-gets-a-ribbon-for-participating” era and now shy away from activities that are not a guaranteed success.

Admittedly, I have had a pretty sheltered life. I’ve always had the things that I need, and within reason, I have always gotten the things that I want. So, how have I grown to be a relatively balanced, down-to-earth, I’ll-try-anything-once kinda gal?

I attribute much of this to my athletic career. Sports have allowed me to experience failure — in a very public way — throughout my journey into adulthood. During my sophomore year of high school, my basketball team won two games the entire season. That’s a loooong season of losing, folks. It’s just one example of many, but I wouldn’t change a thing about any of those losses.

Those failures taught me an important lesson: You can’t truly experience and appreciate the euphoric highs until you know what it feels like at the bottom of the barrel. The agony of defeat is a powerful thing.

You’re probably wondering how running factors into this rambling train of thoughts. Well, I think my attraction to running as an adult is that I appreciate the possibility of failure every time I go out there. In the same way that soccer, basketball, track and volleyball did for me growing up, running makes me feel alive and bolsters the feeling of happiness when I achieve what I set out to do. It’s so much more satisfying that way. The hard is what makes it great.

It’s time to stop worrying about valiantly conquering each race, each run, each step in life. That’s not the point. In fact, it’s overwhelming and daunting to go about anything with that mindset. The point is to tackle the challenge ahead and find a way to get through it — for better or for worse.  — Aidz