Are You New to Running? Tips on How to Get Started
Believe it or not, running comes naturally to the human body. According to popular books like Born to Run, we evolved for long, slow distance running. This could explain why some people seem to glide when you see them running down the street. The wind blowing in their hair, smile on their face. Why does it look so fun for them, but not to others? It actually is not as challenging as it looks to tie up your shoes, walk out the door and follow your favorite route. If you are new to running, these 5 steps outlined below will help you get started in the wonderful world of running.
The name of the game here is to start slow. You need to ease into a running routine, especially if you are new to running. Start by walking every day to get your body used to being on its feet for extended periods of time. After you are comfortable here, start running for a few minutes during your walks. This can be only a couple minutes, and then back to walking. Don’t overdo it right from the start. You’ll learn this is easy to do in running, and you’ll need to learn to listen to your body. Eventually, you’ll find you can run longer and are less tired. Keep this slow progress until you feel comfortable running the entire time, 20 minutes or so. Then you can begin following a program to run your first 5k.
There’s nothing like the good old, tried and true buddy system. Finding a partner to join in on your training program will help maintain consistency and make the run more fun. For those who thrive with external accountability, the buddy system is essential. You will hold each other accountable for showing up for a run, and you’ll find yourself less likely to flake knowing someone is waiting for you. If you do not have someone you know to run with, there are plenty of running groups you can join, by searching online or sites like meetup.com. If you can afford it or are serious about creating a lasting running program, it might be a good idea to get a coach. They will provide weekly run schedules that are designed for you, and will make sure you are not overworked. This is also great for new runners, who might need someone to review their stride, which is a common form of injury.
Running in the right gear is essential to enjoying your workouts and avoid injury. If budget is tight, just focus on getting a good pair of running shoes. Go to a local running store and get fitted. They’ll measure you and talk through your goals and foot type, and then find an appropriate shoe. Ask to run around the block to make sure they are comfortable. A good pair of shoes is the most important gear to have as a runner. As you get more experienced, you’ll find yourself needing other gear as well to stay motivated and comfortable. This includes run specific apparel, hats, phone arm bands, foam roller for recovery, hand carry water bottles, etc. For now, get some good shoes, wear comfortable clothing and get out there.
Consistency is key in running. You need to build a base level of endurance before you can start thinking about training seriously for races. This is not to say you should be overdoing it, but you’ll need to get out 2-3 times per week, either running or walking depending on your fitness level. One you’ve built in that base mileage, you can begin training by alternating between speed workouts or hill runs and recovery runs. In the beginning, it doesn’t matter how fast or far you run, it’s just about getting out there. You’ll also want to build a consistent strength and cross-training schedule. This means on days you take off from running, 3-4 days per week, you are performing another type of physical activity. This will help maintain fitness, prevent injury, and should be fun. This can be biking, swimming, yoga, weight training, or anything you enjoy.
Have a Goal
Working towards a goal is essential to any training program. If you don’t have a goal in mind, you’ll find a lack of motivation. There’s nothing keeping you going. Try making a SMART goal. It should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. This can be as simple as finishing a specific 5k coming up, in less than 1 hour. This goal is very specific, measurable because you are tracking your pace, relevant to your training and time-bound because the 5k is a specific race. Just make sure it is attainable because nothing zaps motivation like an unrealistic goal.