Are you thinking about beginning a running routine? For many, running is a love/hate relationship. During your run, you may be wondering why you are even doing it. The endorphins that you feel rushing through you, though, are what keeps you going back to do it again and again.
Besides walking, running is one of the simplest forms of exercise you can do. All it takes is putting one foot in front of the other, and you’re off! If you have some concerns about how to get started, here are 7 tips to get you out the door and into a running routine.
1. SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Running may be simple, but it isn’t easy. It takes work, and you may not even enjoy it at first. Feeling discouraged in the beginning shouldn’t put you off of sticking with it. Give yourself time for your running routine to feel more natural and comfortable. With time and consistency, your distance and speed will gradually increase, and it will feel easier. You’ll even start to look forward to hitting the pavement. On that note, work on improving your distance before speed. Once you have the stamina to run for several miles or more, you can work on getting it done faster.
When I was beginning a running routine, I could hardly run a couple of minutes without needing a walking break. The entire time, I was thinking, ‘this sucks!’ The important thing is listening to your body. That first time you run a mile straight, you’ll feel such a sense of pride and accomplishment that you’ll want to keep pushing.
2. START WITH INTERVALS
Not only are intervals a great way to ensure you don’t burn out too quickly, but they also lessen the risk of injury or soreness. When you first start, you’ll likely be sore anyway. But you also want to be able to move the next day! Intervals are great because it makes the run seem less intimidating. You can start by running a minute, then walking for two, or more of a 50/50 approach.
When I first started, I liked to make a game out of it. I would run for the duration of a song, then walk a song. I did this until it started to feel easy. My next goal was to run for two songs, then walk for one. Before I knew it, I was running 3 miles straight. When you find a way to turn your routine into a game, it automatically shifts your mindset, and it feels more fun.
3. SIGN UP FOR A RACE
Races are an excellent motivator. They create a certain energy that you just can’t get while running throughout your own neighborhood. Chances are, if you pay the registration fee and buy those expensive running shoes, you’ll be more likely to stick to a training plan. After all, most people hate wasting money! By having a concrete date on the calendar, it will give you something to work towards and look forward to.
A race is what got me starting to run in the first place. Beginning a running routine had always been in the back of my mind, but I never did anything about it. An ad on Facebook for The Great Pumpkin Run (Now Gourdy’s Pumpkin Run) popped up on my news feed. I clicked on the link, liked the race swag (medal, shirt, pumpkin, cider) and signed up. I started training the next day. During the next couple of months, I signed up for 3 more races to keep the motivation going. Races have turned into something very enjoyable for me, and I always have my eye out for the next one that I can sign up for.
4. DRINK ENOUGH WATER
If you aren’t adequately hydrated, your performance won’t be at its best. You should be drinking at least half of your body weight in ounces of water per day. If you are picking up your activity level, this amount will increase. If you feel thirsty or sluggish, have a glass of water. Don’t forget to take a bottle with you if it is hot outside and you’re running outdoors. Your body will thank you!
During my first race, I was getting over a cold and didn’t feel well anyway. I got there two hours early to find parking and to make sure I knew where I was going. Because of this, I didn’t drink any water that morning other than a few sips. The last thing I wanted was to worry about having to use the restroom. It was only 3 miles, right? I thought I would be fine. BIG mistake. It was a hot 88-degree morning. The recent illness mixed with dehydration resulted in having to take a walking break after only two minutes. I took a glass of water at the one and only water station, but it was already too late. The race was sluggish and I felt miserable and disappointed in myself. It was a lesson learned because now I always make sure I am properly hydrated before and during any run.
5. INVEST IN GOOD RUNNING SHOES
Good running shoes can make all the difference in the world. The best thing you can do for your feet and your running is to get fitted for proper running shoes. Most cities have running specialty stores where the employees can assess your stride. They will have you try on multiple shoes and walk/run on a treadmill with them to see how they feel. Be warned, good running shoes do not come cheap. They definitely are an investment. Plan on spending no less than $110.
I should also warn you that after you see how awesome your first pair is, you’ll likely want to get a second (or third) pair to rotate! The shoes I started running in were from an outlet store and were marked down in price. They were fine. I thought that they were comfortable. But then, out of nowhere, it started to feel as if I were running on concrete barefoot. As soon as I got fitted for shoes, I was able to run longer and faster. Goodbye, crappy shoes!
6. DO IT WITH A FRIEND
If you have a friend who also wants to start running, consider beginning a running routine together. You’re more likely to stick to a routine if you have somebody to do your running with. If you don’t have a friend to run with, join an online group, and get an online running buddy. Having somebody to be accountable with and report to is a way to make sure you get out there and stick with your plan. Trust me, it’s all too easy to say ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ if nobody knows about your goals.
7. CROSS TRAIN
This could look different to different people. Taking a break from pounding the pavement is essential, though. Try adding a couple days of strength training to your week. Do a day or two of just stretching or yoga. Ride a bike, or find a trail in your area to hike. All of these will help in building upon your stamina and strength. Even take a rest day once or twice a week. Adding a variety of movements and rest days into your routine will help to make you a stronger runner in the end.
Running can fit into just about anybody’s lifestyle. No matter your age, speed, location, weight, or fitness level, all you have to do is get started. Putting on your shoes and getting out the door is the hardest part. The rest is mental. So what are you waiting for? Start your routine today, and in a month, you’ll be amazed at your progress.