I love this time of year – there’s such a motivated spirit in the air. People have set resolutions, they’re making goals, they’re setting their sights on all they want to achieve over the next 12 months. I know personally I’m scouring the internet trying to decide what my race schedule will look like for the year so I can map out a training plan.
I’ve chatted with several friends recently who told me they want to start running – or restart running after a long hiatus. I am SO excited for them and so proud. Many of them had questions about running – how to start, best training plans, thoughts on gear, etc. I’m by no means a professional, but I do consider myself a dedicated runner – and with that I’ve got a bit of experience getting started (and restarted since I did that after having L&H!).
So I jotted down a few tips and thoughts for anyone who has their sights set on becoming a runner in 2018:
A quick disclaimer before we get started – I am not a medical professional nor a coach. Additionally, there is no one-size-fits-all-approach. What works for me may not work for you. These are my own opinions and insights based on my experience.
- Decide You’re A Runner. A friend came to be the other day and said she wanted to be a runner. “But how do I do it?” she asked. I laughed and told her “You just run! Fast or slow or somewhere in between — it doesn’t matter. You’re a runner just by getting out there and running!” So if you want to be a runner in 2018, ’19 or beyond – give yourself a high five then just go run!
- Walk! A great way to start running is by combining it with walking. A lot of new runners get frustrated and give up when they can’t run for longer than 5 or 10 minutes. The best way to get past that is to embrace it! If you plan to walk – you won’t feel discouraged if you have to walk. Try doing intervals to build up stamina. Run 1 minute, then walk 1 minute and repeat. Then in a few days or a week increase to 2 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking, over and over. Then 3 minutes run, 1 minute walk etc. Soon you’ll be able to run much longer before realizing that you need to walk.
- Ease In. It’s worth noting that after you decide to be a runner and set off to run…..be sure not to go crazy and run 10 miles on your first day out. It’s important to ease in. Doing too much too soon can lead to injury or burn out – and then you’ll be back to square one or worse. Start by running or walk-running short distances 2-3 times per week then increase to 3-4 times per week. Then slowly increase your distances. If you are feeling really beat up and exhausted after a run or the next day – dial things back.
- Get Yourself Some Kicks! A good pair of running shoes is key for running. I cringe when I see folks out for a run in an old old pair of tennis shoes — I can practically feel their joints crying out for help. “But running shoes are so expensive!!” you may be saying as you read this. Not necessarily true. Yes you can break the bank and go for a super fancy pair — but it is also possible to find a simple, well fitting pair of shoes. Some of my favorite running shoes have cost less than $80. But running shoes are very personal – there’s no one-shoe-fits-all – so I do highly recommend that you go to a specialty running store where trained staffers can evaluate your feet, stance, gait, etc. They may even have a treadmill for you to run on to test shoes out but also will let them watch you run. Taking the time to do this will payoff in the long run – literally – by helping you to run pain and injury free.
- Hydrate, Fuel, and Rest Right. Other aspects of your life may have to change in order to support your new running habit/goal. It’s hard to stay out late partying every night and expect to be able to get up to run early every morning. So, set yourself up for success! Drink water throughout the day and eat healthy meals to stay energized and well fueled. And treat your body kindly by going to bed at a reasonable hour.
- You’re Making an Investment. I’ve had friends tell me they can’t run because they don’t have time – or can’t make the time – or feel bad making the time. And I get that! When my days are really busy, I used to feel bad about taking as little as 30 minutes to go for a run. Until one day I realized, those 30 minutes 1) are nothing in the grand scheme of the day or week and 2) are going to have an impact on me for way longer than just today. Running is my way of investing in ME. It helps me keep my mental health in check, it let’s me focus on myself, and I have fun because I enjoy it. So if you want to run, do your best to make time – even 10 minutes! And don’t feel guilty – you’re investing in yourself which is priceless.
It’s scary to throw your hat into the ring for something you’ve never done before – so be proud of yourself for starting (or restarting) a new journey into the world of running. I hope these tips are helpful for you. Run strong, run swift….and good luck!