Hey everyone! Welcome to Runs on Espresso with me, Jenna a mid-pack runner. Runs on Espresso is a podcast all about running. I’m not a professional but have been running since 2012 so I think I’ve picked up a few things. I’m also still learning and trying to be better. I hope you will join me on my journey!

This week’s podcast we take a step back. I’ve been doing this running thing for a while but I wish I had some better guidance and advice back in 2004ish when I first started. At the time I didn’t know anyone that ran. I didn’t know there were magazines and resources you could consult. I thought you just grabbed your music and hit the pavement. I bought my running shoes at Kohls (probably Nikes for about $30 on sale). I think I would have enjoyed running more and adapted better if I had help. A guru so to speak.

I may not know everything but I think I know enough to help a newbie get started. Or someone that’s been out for years and wants to start running again. I know my podcasts are a little out of order but I go where the ideas take me. If you aren’t a beginner, you can still listen and maybe send me your tips and advice for beginners to share on a future episode! 

So maybe you see someone out running every day in your neighborhood and you think, “I could do that”. Since about March when Arizona shutdown and gyms closed due to covid I’ve seen many more people out walking, biking, and running. There’s never a bad time to pick up a healthy habit!

Maybe you see your friends posting about that race they did over the weekend and it looks like fun. For me, I love races. They are a great thing to work towards, they can be challenging, and the swag is always what gets me! I kick myself when I see someone post a cool shirt or medal from a race that I missed. Races can be a great motivator for new runners.

And if I can run, pretty much anyone can run.

Growing up, I had exercise-induced asthma and it was not well controlled. I could barely do a lap around the track. I remember elementary school I would have to go to the office and take asthma medication. First, it was a gross liquid and then a pill. It didn’t seem to help much. I loved playing basketball but couldn’t deal with all the running. I remember around 5th grade we had to run a mile in gym class. I could never run the mile. I always had to take walk breaks. I’d be in the last group to finish, with maybe 2-3 other kids that couldn’t or didn’t want to run. 

No one ever taught me HOW to run or deal with my asthma. Doctors always gave a drug with only the basic instructions to take 15 minutes before exercise. Gym teachers didn’t care how we finished the mile as long as we did it. They’d encourage us to run but no one ever said, you need to run slower. Or you need to do a more structured run/walk.

When I started running on my own, I would run until it was too hard to breathe and then walk. I didn’t track my outdoor runs back in the early days but I would go for about 30 minutes based on songs (so about 10 songs or so). Based on my current pace, I probably ran about 2-2.5 miles depending how I felt and the time of year. It was so much harder for me to run outdoors in Wisconsin winters. I knew it was my asthma but didn’t know how to help myself. When I joined a gym I was able to run much easier on a treadmill than outside. It helped that the treadmill would hold a steady pace and I could increase and decrease as needed. I easily did 3-5 mile runs at the gym. 

One thing I learned from running on the treadmill and applied during the times I ran outside was increasing and decreasing pace as needed. The treadmill time was an eye-opener on how to be better outside. It was still harder but I didn’t know that was to be expected. Hint, it’s harder to run outside. Well, at least to start. 

I learned to run the hard way. On my own, testing different ways. Not realizing there were resources out there. But you don’t have to do it that way. You have lots of information available at your fingertips. 

I am all for sharing my love and knowledge of running. I hope that my joy is infectious and others turn to run and love it. I want others to reap the health and fitness that comes from running. To clear your brain and stress less. If I’m not the runner for you there are many other podcasts and blogs out there. You can pick up Runner’s World, Women’s Running, Trail Runner, and a plethora of over magazines and books. You can follow professional and every other level of runners on social media. There are almost too many options now. 

But just how does one get into running?

Let’s take a quick sponsor break before we get into the nitty-gritty details.

Welcome back! Let’s get running!

As with any other workout programs, here is the basic disclosure: always consult your doctor before starting a workout program. As I said in episode 5, I’m not a doctor. I have no medical training. I want you to be a happy, healthy runner so please make sure you are healthy and cleared before you start!

Have you tried running in the past and given up because it seemed too hard? You went all out and didn’t enjoy yourself? Don’t beat yourself up, it happens to a lot of people. When I started, I often went too hard when I first started. Shit, I sometimes start out too fast still! 

My biggest tip for new runners is to go slow. I cannot emphasize this enough. Most people start out too fast, too hard, or try to do too much. Almost every new runner says the same thing, “I can’t go longer than a few minutes before I’m out of breath.” Running is like anything else, you gotta start slow. You wouldn’t pick up a paintbrush and expect to paint the Mona Lisa so why do we think we can go out and run 3 miles? You don’t learn something new in a day. This applies to running too. If you start struggling to breathe? Go slower. You should be able to talk (or sing) while you run. If you can’t, go slower. What if the pace feels good at first? Go slower. You may think it’s good for the first few minutes but what about when you get to 30 minutes? You could be gasping for air. So, go slower.

There’s no shame in going slow. You are out there, doing your thing. You are taking a step towards a healthier, happier you and that’s what matters. Not the time on your watch.

My second tip is to take breaks. Too many people think they need to go out and run 30 minutes straight. Nope. Walk breaks can be beneficial, especially when starting out. There are even training plans for run/walk for distances up to marathons! Walk breaks allow your breathing to slow down and gives your legs a little bit of a break from the hard work.

No one started out running marathons. We all started out slow and built up. I’ve done a few races without training but that’s after years of pretty consistent running. My body was already used to running. Most people cannot just go out and run a 5k without building up to it. 

When I started running in college there weren’t really apps. There was a Couch to 5K plan online but you had to print it off and time yourself, no prompting. It was hard to remember how long I was supposed to run and walk for. I usually tried to use cues, a block, or a song length. Luckily, nowadays, there are a million apps and coaching programs available. The apps and programs are great and I guarantee you can find one that works for you. If you already have a Garmin or other fitness or smart watch you may even have built-in coaching or workouts. The options are endless, so don’t get analysis paralysis and just pick one and stick to it. Otherwise, apps like Nike Run Club, Map My Fitness, or Strava can be helpful for timing and tracking your run.

If you are unfamiliar with Couch to 5K you will do a run/walk a few times a week and slowly decrease the walk portion. Don’t be afraid to repeat days if you aren’t comfortable moving on yet. I know plenty of runners that have repeated days or weeks because they felt they needed to. 

A lot of the programs also have a 30-minute 5k as the end goal but don’t feel pressured to go fast. The closest I’ve gotten to a 30 minute 5k is 32 minutes. And that’s with years of running. You don’t have to be fast. If you finish in 40 minutes or an hour, what is important that you finished! 

We can’t all be a hare. Some of us need to be the tortoise.

I am a strong believer in setting goals. They can help keep you motivated. To keep your eye on the prize. Goal setting should also start small. If you’ve never run before maybe your goal is to run around the block. If you are doing a couch 2 5k your goal is to tun a 5k in however many weeks your program is. 

So, grab a pen and paper and write down your current goal. 

Instead of wishing you were out in the race, why not start training for one? Start dreaming about which race you will do. Make sure to give yourself plenty of training time. Remember it can take anywhere from 12-20 weeks to train for a race depending on your current running level and the distance you want to accomplish. A lot of runners tend to do a 5k then 10k then half and then maybe a marathon.

Don’t feel you have to follow that trajectory. Many runners find a distance they like and stick with it. I haven’t done a marathon yet but I’ve trained for them. They take a lot of time and energy. I much prefer the training for a half or shorter. No matter what distance you choose, you’re a runner!

Many people start running for weight loss or maintenance. It is a great exercise for that but please remember you still need to fuel your body especially if you are starting a new workout program. I’m not a nutritionist or dietician. I’ve found what works for me over years of trial and error and learning about food, nutrition, and proper fueling. Without it, your running will suffer so please remember you need fuel. It’s an overused comparison but you wouldn’t drive your car on fumes without some dire consequences so don’t do it for your body.

For me, I’ve found I can do shorter runs (3-4 miles) fasted. I usually get up, sip about 8 ounces of water, and head out. I also sip water while running and then come home and eat breakfast. When I am going out for longer I eat some carbs before, oatmeal, bagels or waffles with peanut butter. Then when I get back I have another small meal, usually egg and cheese on a bagel. Sometimes I have chocolate milk, as it’s a great post-run beverage for carbs and protein.

I also make sure to stay hydrated during the day, another very important thing. Your body needs water. 

There is so much more to nutrition and timing your foods with your workouts that it could be an entire podcast in itself. I will probably work on that for a future episode. For now, just make sure you are getting enough water and healthy foods, including carbs.

And lastly, I recommend finding a community. Runners can be amazing, supportive people. I’ve met some great friends through running, some I am friends with in real life and others are online friends. I’ve got IRL runner friends all over the world. People travel for races and you meet people through other people. Online running friends can be an endless resource of support and help. My non-running family and friends are supportive but they don’t get my drive to run. They will cheer me on at a race but look at me funny when I go to bed at 8:30 because I have to get up at 4 am to go to a race. Or they don’t get why I want to run a race while on vacation.

Running communities are a great resource. Almost any question you have, I can guarantee someone else has had the same question or issue. They can provide advice and support. They share their experiences and mistakes. They can help you avoid the pitfalls they went through. 

So find your people. It will make your running more enjoyable.

Do you have a dream race you want to do? I’d love to hear what it is! Find me on Instagram at runs_on_espresso or drop me an email at jenna@runsonespresso.com

And now… coffee corner!

Next week starting on the 24th I will be participating in the Online Nourished Festival. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on the podcast yet but I have celiac disease and have to maintain a strict gluten-free diet. I could probably do an entire episode on celiac disease, being gluten-free, and running. If you are gluten-free or have another of the top 8 allergens the Online Nourished Festival is for you! Plus, it’s free. 

I got the list of current brands and classes. Oh. Em. Gee. There are so many brands participating! I was worried it wouldn’t be a lot since this is new for everyone, usually, these are in big conference or event centers. Plus there are lots of bloggers and influencers like me participating. I haven’t even really looked at what brands will be there or the classes yet. I opened the lists but they were a bit overwhelming! I definitely need to set aside some time to go over everything. 

You can discover new products (always a fav for me), get coupons, enter giveaways, and shop! It should be fun for everyone and I highly encouraged you to check it out. It will run from September 24th to the 26th. For more info head over to online.nourishedfestival.com. Maybe I will see you there!

Lastly, I’m still looking for injury topics and stories. Be sure to email me yours at jenna@runsonespresso.com to be included anonymously.

Until next time, may your runs be as strong as your coffee.

Categories: Podcast


Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.