Things NOT to do as a Newbie Runner


I started my distance running journey three years ago, and to say I have learned a lot my be the understatement of the decade. As I have mentioned before, I sometimes take for granted all of the knowledge I have gained about the sport, and forget that I , too, once was a newbie and all of this info didn’t just transfer into my brain overnight by osmosis.

With that being said, I would like to save you from some embarrassment by giving you some tips on things NOT to do as a new runner. Please keep in mind these tips are my own personal opinion, so if you don’t agree, that’s ok (or maybe you just need to re-evaluate things haha).

Don’t stop moving at the water stops: No lie, this is the best. story. ever. Probably because it involves making fun of my husband, but yall I laugh to this day thinking about it. We ran our very very very first race spring of 2009. It was an 8k out and back. I am of course a long way back from Bobby, but I can see him up ahead. I watch as he gets to the water station at the turn around, gets a cup, stops dead in his tracks,  hand on hip, drinks the cup of water, throws the cup in the trash can, and then starts running again! I wanted to die I was laughing so hard. Later, when I approached him about this, he said “I was wondering why I was the only one stopping to drink water…I had no idea you were supposed to drink on the go and then throw the cup on the ground!” I die.


however, it is ok to stop during a full marathon to slather biofreeze on you knee.

Don’t wear new clothes for the first time on race day: I know it’s tempting to buy a new outfit at the expo and show it off during the race, but please refrain. You could be chafed in places you didn’t know chaffed, end up running in a shirt that’s ill fitting, or shorts that ride up, or shoes that give you blisters. Save the new outfit for the next race after you have trained in it.


Don’t eat new food the night before or morning of: Especially if you have a sensitive stomach. You don’t want to be barfing on the side of the road, or stuck in a port-o-potty at mile 1 because some unfamiliar food didn’t sit right with you. Practice eating what you want to eat on race morning when you are doing training runs.


I like to eat pizza the night before a race

Don’t start out to fast: I admittedly still struggle with this one. I just get so darn excited at the beginning of a race, and I feel so good, I can’t help myself! I know it’s tempting to take off and stay with the lead pack, but don’t. It’s much better to finish strong then to start off too fast and have to crawl across the finish line, trust me.


dying at the finish line

Don’t dress to warmly for cold weather: Once you start running, your body will warm up, and you may wish you hasn’t worn those gloves and that heavy sweatshirt you now have to tie around your waist. Yes it sucks getting out the door in the cold, but it will be better once you get started, and may make you run faster!


Don’t run in place at a stoplight Ever see those people at crosswalks jogging in place waiting for the light to change, well, hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s really not necessary. As long as the light isn’t some crazy length of time, you will be perfectly fine to just stand still while you wait for the light to change.

Don’t schedule too far of an out and back: Nothing will make you look more lame than setting out on an out and back run that is too far for you, and you lose all your steam before you get back home…and then you are stuck two miles from home and feeling like death. If you aren’t sure you can cover the distance, do two shorter out and back loops so if something does happen you won’t be as far from home.


Don’t forget to plan a family meet up area: Let’s face it, some races are HUGE, and it can be tough to reunite with family and friends at the finish line, especially if you are about to pass out from your race. Have a pre determined meet up spot so you can easily reconnect and celebrate afterwards.


and my biggest tip for newbies (which irks me the most)

Don’t wear the race shirt to run the race: Personal opinion, but I think it’s bad luck to wear a race shirt during the actual race, unless your luggage got lost, or your baby threw up on your other shirt, or something of that nature. The shirt is stating that you completed said race, so how can you wear it when you HAVEN’T finished it yet? I’m really not sure why but this one bugs me!


My Centrum ProNutrients winner is KIM from Living Domestically! please e mail me with your shipping address and which ProNutrient product you would like.  congrats!


Yesterday I ran 5 miles, did weights and 25 minutes elliptical. I’m coming back baby!

QOTD: What tip would you tell a newbie runner, something for them NOT to do?

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  1. chelsey @ clean eating chelsey says

    Great tips! I do think it depends on the person though on the water stations. Personally, I walk through water stations if I’m going to get a drink because a) I don’t want to choke and b) I do better running when I take tiny 10-15 second breaks every few miles!

  2. Amy Lauren says

    I accidentally had to do that last one at a 5K once- I underdressed for the race so I had to wear the race shirt or else I was going to FREEZE… but yeah, I always tell people not to do that, I think it’s a newbie or first timer thing though because they’re still excited about t-shirts (me, I could care less now…). And the out-and-back tip is great, that’s why I really prefer loops and staying closer to home.

  3. I love the last one. It’s just like how you should never wear the shirt of the band you’re going to see. Obviously, you like them, you’re at the show. And obviously, you’re doing the race, you’re there.

    Don’t be THAT guy!

  4. Oh oh oh how I neeeded this before my first race! 😉

  5. Don’t forget to refuel! I like to make sure I bring some GU or whatnot if I am going to run longer than 7 miles. And that I fuel up by around 40-45 minutes during my run. What works for each person may vary but I feel a lot better when I actually refuel on long runs :).

    • To follow up on that, I think the big thing to remember is that if you’re running a long distance, fuel up *before* you feel like you need it. GUs aren’t absorbed instantly so you want you body to be able to absorb what it needs while you’re still feeling good so you can completely avoid feeling like you’re running out of energy.

      And before you even step foot out the door, make sure you’re not running on an empty stomach. Food is fuel and you need fuel. If you don’t have food in your stomach, you body will actually burn muscle in addition to fat.

  6. All very good tips to newbies. Will have to pass along!

  7. My advice for a new runner would be DON’T worry about your time! Running shouldn’t be stressful, just go out there and enjoy the experience and you can worry about times later.

  8. Great list… I also eat pizza before races… its such a routine for us. I love it!

  9. I HAVE to stop at resties, mostly because I have a lazy epiglottis and I will choke if I don’t.

    • really! you can’t even walk? thats so strange! and it sucks! well, for MOST of us, coming to a complete stop is not necessary. 🙂

  10. These are great tips! Everytime I throw a cup on the ground after a water station, I cringe! But you know I won’t stop chugging along either! LOL

  11. Your Rouge-Orleans teammate here… and I am SO GLAD I’m not the only person who eats pizza the night before a race! We might have to do this that Friday night. 🙂

    I think all my advice pretty much is the same as yours for a newbie. And I always like to stress to NOT push too hard, especially if you’re just starting out and don’t know your body as well as you should.

  12. These are awesome ideas!!! I love them! I still have problems with dressing too warmly (even after all these years!!!)
    Definitely RT’ing this now!!!

  13. I don’t consider myself a “newbie” runner, but I still struggle with dressing too warmly for winter runs AND starting out too fast during races. My garmin has helped with the latter, but the former is a work in progress!

  14. Yay! I’m so excited that I won! I’ll be emailing you soon 🙂

    I LOVE your #1 rule of not stopping at water stations. That is my #1 Pet Race Peeve (besides a group of runners running along side each other and taking up the entire lane, with earphones in, so they don’t hear you saying “excuse me!”)–I’ve almost ran people over at races because they stop dead in their tracks as soon as they get water and I’m usually a grab on the run and go.

  15. Great post for beginning tips. The out and back tip and scheduling a meet up place are great ones that you don’t hear too often. Also, I’ with you on the race shirt thing. I want to wear mine as pride for finishing it and not put it on until that happens. 🙂

  16. Kristyn @ Life In Running Shoes says

    Love the tips! I agree with Erin-we should all do pizza Friday night before RO!

  17. Haha! Poor Bobby! I totally didn’t know that you were supposed to drink on the go at first either. But thankfully my first 5k was with a seasoned pro so she taught me the ropes. 🙂

  18. lol…couldn’t help but laugh at the hubby stopping. Totally something I’ve done before AND been ran into by runners behind me when I did. gah!

    • I just remember seeing him up ahead and thinking “what in the world?” but I guess if no one ever tells you then you don’t know!

  19. Tara Burner says

    great tips! 🙂
    love it

  20. Great list… Some of those you learn along the way, unfortunaltely. I wish I had known some of these before I actually did them. Kudos (and great pictures — you always look so happy!)

  21. I’ve been at it 15 years and seriously, I still learn something new every year. My big lesson from the past two years has been not to over-race. You’ll get more out of each race you do if you allow some downtime for solid training in between.

  22. I agree on the race shirt too, but can’t really place why. Although, pairing that up with not wearing new clothes for the race is a good point! I’d rather wear the race shirt in celebration later that day. 🙂

  23. Great post, Heather! 🙂

  24. It’s always great to read advice for newbies!!! I also don’t like wearing the actual race shirt to the race! I’m with you on that one 100% and there is no particular reason it just seems odd.
    When it comes to drinking from a cup and running I have to be on that one with your husband because it is an ART one needs to master.
    I still can’t do it so I just stick with water that way if I get it all over me I don’t feel sticky like if it was a sport drink.


  25. Oops- I’m one of those people who jog in place at stoplights! Sometimes it’s because I know if I stop, I won’t get going again- like if it’s on a hill at the end of my run. But usually I think it’s just habit. Hopefully I’m not incurring too much scorn from fellow runners! 😉

  26. Love the tips as someone who is just returning to racing this is a great reminder post and some of the things I did last time – especially dress too warmly for a race 🙂 Great post!

  27. Yeah, I always jog in place or do high knees or ankle lifts at stoplights. Sorry if that looks dumb but I use it as a chance to stretch my knees in a different position than my running form. So I am not sure that one is a DON’T. Maybe just a.. you don’t have to.

    • stretching you legs and running in place are different in my opinion. A new runner may think this is a necessity to “keep their run going” but it’s really not, but I think stretching is a great idea!

  28. Bethany Couto says

    You’re a hero for telling people NOT to jog in place at a stoplight LOL. There is a girl in Boston who drops and does push-ups at red lights, i’ve seen her several times. oh boy.

  29. Great tips! I actually had pizza before the half at Disney the other week, and was worried about all of the cheesiness, but it was totally fine. Phew.

    I definitely know runners shouldn’t try new fuel while running. If you train with certain foods or drinks (well, and clothes too), then that’s what you should stick with on race day.

  30. This post is great! I usually eat pizza on Friday night before my Saturday long run – but before a race it’s usually more ‘bland’ since there are nerves involved too 🙂 I have almost run into so many runners who stop at a water station – but they don’t get off to the side first! I usually walk through – running while drinking water usually results in most of it down the front of my shirt 🙂 Love all the great tips in the comments too!

  31. I too am a water-station choker! Haha! One big inhale and most of the water lands back on the ground with all the cups! Enjoyed reading your tips!

  32. Well said! I would also put “don’t over-think it”. Some people get super stressed out over their first or millionth race. Over-thinking takes all the fun out of it.

    Also, I’d love to see or write a post on signs not to hold during a race. Sometimes a spectator thinks they’re funny, but they’re just kind of rude. But I’m probably being a little sensitive…;)

    • You are right. That can take the fun out.

      Haha I have seen some hi-larious signs. One of my faves at RnR St. Louis at the top of a big hill “You’re almost there! (that’s what she said)” I started laughing out loud. So funny.

  33. Love your tips! Grateful for them!! Thank you!!

  34. I wholly agree with all your points! I’d like to add one, don’t consume anything on course that you haven’t already trained with. I only drink water & take Gu on long runs. I stupidly took gatorade also, while doing a half. I got such an upset stomach from all the sugar.

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