When I started running several years ago, I only knew the basics of running. And by basics, I mean that I knew running involved putting one foot in front of the other. Not too hard, right? Oh how wrong I was! I tried that and lasted all of about 10 seconds. Looking back on it, I was probably trying to run too fast. But as I learned more about running, I was eager to learn even more. Depending on your current goals, you can probably find a plan online that will help you reach your goals in a healthy (and safe way). Even if you currently can’t run more than a few seconds, a solid training plan can have you running a mile or even a 5k in a matter of weeks. Runners come in all shapes, sizes and speed!
1. Invest in a good pair of shoes and get a professional fitting. I know there can be a certain level of sticker shock when you see the price of a good pair of running shoes but don’t even think about skimping on running shoes. Getting fitted by a professional at a running store is the best way to find the right pair for you. Most running store employees are runners themselves and will analyze you feet and how you run or walk and get you the right shoes. Surprisingly, shoes from a specialty store are very comparably priced to regular retail stores. With regular retail stores, you may not get the shoes that are appropriate for your feet and end up spending more money on a different pair – or worse – they can leave you with an injury. After you’ve found the perfect pair that you are happy with, you can possibly save money online. For more tips on choosing the right pair of running shoes, check out this article.
2. Be patient. Don’t expect to be able to run far or fast, at least in the beginning. Increasing speed and distance come with time and consistency. You’ll get there – just be patient with yourself. Instead of concerning yourself with pace in the beginning, focus on gradually increasing your distance.
3. Join a running group. There are thousands of running groups out there. Finding a group of like-minded people that will encourage and support you, can really help you improve and become a solid runner. While a running group might seem a bit intimidating when you start out, know that all runners started somewhere and understand how challenging it can be. More than likely, a running group will motivate you and provide you with accountability. If you don’t get that experience with a particular group, keep looking – they are out there. The extra benefit of joining a running group is that it’s a good way to form friendships and make the miles pass quickly!
4. Honor rest days. Rest is important to allow your body to recover. Sometimes the less is more philosophy is absolutely true, especially in running. If you feel like you must do something to advance your running, use rest days as academic days and read and learn more about running. Or add in other workouts that will improve your running, like yoga, weight lifting, or swimming. Your legs will appreciate the break! Running might seem super simple to the non-runner (and it can be), but there are proven ways to improve your speed and distance gradually, if that’s what your goal is. Never underestimate the power and importance of a rest day!
5. Keep a training log. If you only run a few miles a week, it may not seem necessary to track your miles in a training log. I’ve found training logs very useful to measure progress and provide a written record of how far I’ve come. As I got more serious about running, reviewing my log allowed me to see what was working and what wasn’t.
6. Walk if you need to. Some people feel like walking is kind of cheating and not something a “real” runner will do. That’s not true at all! There is nothing wrong with walking if you need to. Many times, taking a short walk break helps you catch your breath, regroup and renew your energy.
7. Set small, achievable goals. This is good advice for running and life. Running goals are accomplished one step at a time, one lap at a time, and one mile at a time Each of those steps gets you a little bit closer to your ultimate goal. Start off with a small, realistic goal, achieve that and set a bigger goal. You’ll be amazed at how much you are capable of – even if you’ve never run a complete mile.
8. Call yourself a runner. Don’t undervalue or minimize what you are doing or compare yourself to others. When I first started running, I was pretty slow. When anyone would ask me if I was a runner, I would avoid saying that I was a runner. My standard answer was “I run but I’m not very fast”. But the truth is that it doesn’t matter how fast you run, running at any pace makes you a runner. Start off calling yourself a runner!
If you are a new runner, what is your biggest challenge? Experienced runners – what advice would you give new runners?
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