THE NEWBIE: comes late to practice on the first day, gets lost on trail runs, has no clue how to run a certain pace, no idea what racing is, running more than 1 mile a day is a HUGE accomplishment (me circa spring 2014), doesn’t even own a running watch (also me when I showed up to my first day of practice at Santa Clara).
Go forth with beginner’s enthusiasm!
While being the newbie to the running world certainly has it’s downsides, it has many perks as well. So many perks, in fact, that to this day I have tried to maintain my newbie mindset from when I first started running, and here’s why I think you should try it out too…
- Ignorance is bliss- There are some things in life where ignorance is definitely not bliss, and knowing as many things as possible about a subject is very helpful. For instance, as a civil engineer knowing as much as I can about building a bridge is a very helpful thing indeed. A bridge left standing is a job well done. However with running, some level of ignorance can definitely lead to bliss. Not over analyzing every race or workout can help you to just focus on the simple facts of the race. Maybe you don’t know every hill and curve of the cross country course or maybe you don’t know all the PR’s and facts about your competitors and that’s okay. All you need to know to be successful in running is that you believe in yourself and all the work you have put into your training. I’m not saying to not learn from your mistakes, or to refuse to learn new things but the essence of running is really quite simple. That is what you don’t need to overthink. You just need to know that giving it your best and trying your hardest is all anyone is asking for, and you can be ignorant about some of the rest just like the rookies do.
- Every day is an adventure- My first day of cross country practice at Santa Clara University, and the many practices and races that followed, were scary. EVERYTHING was new. The only way I was able to get myself through this huge transition period in a relatively civil manner was by telling myself that each day was just one new adventure. Newbies do this because to them everything is new, and fun, and exciting. Look at each day as a chance to experience something new, overcome a new obstacle, and make new memories along the way.
- Less pressure, more fun- Did you have any expectations for your very first race? Any at all other than just giving it your best go? I know I didn’t and I hope you didn’t either. As the rookie in racing, you get a sort of free pass and no matter what happens, whether you run fast or DFL everyone seems to be supportive and happy with the effort. Even yourself! So what I am saying is, why can’t you maintain this newbie mindset forever? Even now as a professional in the sport, I try to remind myself that at the end of the day as long as I have given every race every ounce of energy I had then I have done a good job. Keeping my expectations to a minimum has made running and particularly racing more fun as I have less pressure to achieve specific goals and more flexibility to achieve improvement in whatever terms that may be for the day.
- Keep your passion alive- This is my particularly favorite excuse for maintaining the mindset of the newbie, and I think the most powerful reason as well. As a newbie to the sport you are acutely aware of why you started running in the first place. For me, I started running 4 years ago as a way to fill my time. Reluctant to let go of sports altogether when I quit soccer I knew I needed some sort of competitive and physical outlet in my life. I chose running because it seemed like a good new challenge and mostly because being on a team, making new friends, and competing in a sport was FUN to me. So every time a workout gets hard or a race seems scary I go back to this: this is supposed to be FUN. In pretending you are the perpetual newbie you can keep yourself close to your roots, reminding yourself of why you started running in the first place, and keeping your passion for the sport alive and burning hot.
So there you have it, a few of my favorite upsides to being a newbie. As a newbie to the professional running world myself I have kept these things in mind as I approach new workouts, longer weekly mileage, and more competitive races. The moral of this story is to not act like a newbie (don’t get lost on runs and show up to training prepared) but that the mindset of the newbie is something powerful that we can tap into. As for me, I intend to keep approaching life with beginner’s enthusiasm and a newbie mindset and maybe you can give it a try too!