As a beginning runner, I have some advice for those of you who may be starting out.
Biggest mistake of my running experience thus far: Once you start doing longer runs, check your pedometer (or however you are tracking your runs) for accuracy. I use Nike+ which has a sensor in my shoe, and a receiver for my ipod. I love it. I am certain I would not have kept running without it. The nike+ program tracks everything online, and I love seeing my progress!
HOWEVER, I never checked to see how it calibrated with my own steps. Bad call. Its fine if you're running for fun. But in the half marathon, I realized it was off by about 1/10 of a mile. Which is pretty bad when you think you've run 13.1 miles, and you really have 1.5 left. It was a huge let down and I was pretty discouraged in the end.
Run however you feel comfortable. I wanted to carry a water bottle with me during the marathon, because that is how I trained. I'm glad that I did. It was easier for me, it was the way I trained, and I didn't want to chance it. If you live in a place that doesn't get as hot as Nebraska, you may not need water as often.
Don't get discouraged if you're not following a running schedule for training. I knew I needed to increase my runs every week, and run short-medium runs a few times a week, and long runs once a week. I learned to do my long runs on Tuesday after classes. I wasn't going to kid myself and wake up early on a Saturday to do them. You don't have to do the schedule exactly.
Don't buy a bunch of stuff just because you feel like you have to. I bought things I needed in increments. A few weeks ago I bought running socks, that helped with the blisters. They helped ALOT when I started doing 8+ miles. But you don't need them right off the bat. I also bought a running water bottle a couple of weeks ago so I didn't have to keep stopping by the house and switching it out on longer runs. I also got headphones that were meant for running, that way I wasn't constantly fidgeting and losing my groove (yes...I feel that I have a grove while running) If you have a smart phone, you may not even need something for a pedometer. I don't have a smartphone, so I did have to invest in one of those.
Train with more hills. Nebraska and Oklahoma are both flat. BUT there were alot more hills during the marathon than I had trained for. I ran on bike paths here, which are really flat. I should have done more streets.
If you wear glasses, I would suggest glasses, NOT contacts. Simply because your face gets sweaty and salt in yours eyes is not fun. You may not sweat as much as I do, but it also rained while I was running, so the sweat was running down my face. Extra salty. But try it however you want, and see what works for you!
This is just advice from one person to another- I'm just a beginner, like alot of you. But I wanted to share my experience while it was fresh in my head!