This conversation really got me thinking- how does someone start running? Even though I still consider myself a new runner, I've been running for over four years and honestly, haven't thought about those beginning days in a long time. So let's revisit them!
*Disclaimer: As you know, I'm not a doctor or running coach. I'm just a runner and any advice or tips I write about here are shared as runner to runner- not medical advice. If you are considering starting any kind of running or exercise program, please consult with your physician.
Before I was a runner, I was a walker. I would walk a few times a week- usually on a trail or track- just to try and lose a little weight. In January of 2010, my weight had ballooned (yet again) to 195 pounds and I was looking for some type of weight-loss program. At my local Y, there was a class I signed up for called "Y Fitness Challenge." It was once a week and involved a boot camp-like exercise class, food tracking, and workouts outside of the class. As part of the challenge's additional workouts, we were all encouraged to start running. I had no idea what to do.
The class instructor suggested that I start incorporating running into my walking for short segments of time. So, the next time I was on the treadmill, I upped the speed and ran for 60 seconds. Then the next time, I ran for two minutes. And then I increased to five minutes. You get the picture- in a few weeks I was running for 30 minutes at a time on the treadmill. And it was awesome!
Then I ran outside and realized that treadmill running and outdoor running are not equitable- it was much harder than running indoors! I was tired and felt like I had to walk- a lot. To be honest, it was defeating. It wasn't until about a year and a half later, when I found the Jeff Galloway method and ran my first 5k, that I finally started to feel like I could do this running thing. If I had to do it over again, there would definitely be some things I would have done differently. I've put together a short list of things I wish I'd known when just starting out. Hopefully this will encourage you to give this running thing a try!
- Invest in a good pair of running/walking shoes. I can't stress this one enough. When I first started, I was wearing whatever I'd bought on sale at Payless- yikes! Visit a running/walking specialty store and get fitted for a pair of quality shoes- they will make all the difference in your comfort and ability to keep running.
- Start out slowly. If you're already a walker, start adding small increments of running. Each time, try to increase the amount of time you are running. It's ok to start small and start slow- try to run at a pace that feels comfortable and sustainable.
- Try walk/run intervals. Once you feel comfortable with some running, try to use pre-established intervals for walking and running. Intervals help increase endurance and lower the risk of injury. Jeff Galloway has some great advice on his website for using intervals in running.
- Keep track of your progress. Something I wish I'd done when I started running was keeping better track of my workouts. Not only is this helpful in charting your progress, but it is incredibly motivational as you start to see how far you are able to run and walk. There are many apps out there that you can use or you can do it the old fashioned way and keep a journal.
- Sign up for a race or set a goal. Again, this is something I wished I had done when I first started running in January of 2010. I think it would have kept me more focused and I wouldn't have waited so long to try a race. Having a race on the calendar gives you something to look forward to and something to train for. That alone can encourage motivation to keep going even when you don't really feel like it. Setting any kind of goal (run a mile, walk/run the 5k distance) will help you to stay motivated which is something I know I struggled with when I started to run.
Bonus tip- Running is something that everyone can do. Most of our limitations are mental- we tell ourselves that we "can't" run or we "don't look like a runner." I said the very same things to myself. For years and years. Even though it's difficult, push those negative thoughts to the side, lace up your running shoes, and just get out there. I promise, it will be fun!
QOTD: What tips would you add to this list? What do you wish you'd done/known about as a new runner?