Start with a Plan
Like anything else in life, achieving a goal begins with having a plan. While the overall concept of running is simple, it can be both physically and mentally taxing–particularly for a beginner. Starting with a combination of running/walking is key, in order to ease your body into the sport. Overall, you will run longer, stronger, and avoid injury if you begin with run/walks and gradually decrease the amount of walking you do over time. Devise a system in which you time these intervals through a stopwatch, or perhaps even the music you’re listening to (run for the duration of a song, walk the next). Apps such as couch to 5k are magnificent for helping to develop a long term running plan. You simply download it, and follow the schedule it provides! While out running it tells you when to walk and when to run, so you can just focus on your workout!
Get the Proper Equipment
There’s no need to break the bank to take up running, but investing in a good pair of running shoes is vital. Go to a specialty store that will fit you for shoes that cater to your specific foot shape and run pattern. It’s tempting to shop for shoes based on style or price range, but let fit and support be the only factors that play into your purchase. Good running shoes are an investment, and they’ll be the best one you make on this journey! Be sure to also pick up some clothes that wick away moisture to keep you comfortable on your run. And if you’re going to be running at night, pick up reflective or light-up gear!
Watch Your Form
Run tall, make short strides, keep your shoulders and hands relaxed, keep elbows at 90 degrees, look straight ahead and not at your feet, and don’t overthink it!
Go Easy on Yourself
Going from couch potato to avid runner does not- and will not- happen overnight. It’s essential that you enter this new endeavor in a patient and forgiving head space. It’s normal to not love every second of running, particularly when first starting out. Though it will be challenging, it’s important to push past the nagging voice of self-doubt in your head, and celebrate the fact that you’re doing it at all! And while it’s important to keep motivated and push yourself, it is critical to listen to your body. Pushing yourself too hard by running too fast or too long will result in quickly burning out and potentially injuring yourself. If you want to be in it for the long-haul, you must pace yourself (and cut yourself some slack)
While listening to your body is key, sometimes it speaks too late. In the beginning, take breaks even before you need them. This will actually help you run longer and faster, as you’ll stay one step ahead of fatigue. Even if you feel comfortable skipping the walk intervals, by the time your body does feel tired, it will be difficult to regain that momentum. And again, doing too much in the beginning is how many running-related injuries happen. Stick to your plan so you can stay strong throughout the process.
Make it fun
In order for running to become a consistent part of your life, it has to become something you enjoy. Figure out which time of day you enjoy running and whether you prefer the treadmill or the open road. Find a route you love and makes you feel great. Figure out a podcast that gets you going or a playlist that pumps you up! Join a running group or make it your “you” time. The beauty of running is that it’s so customizable, so figure out what you love and enjoy it! And remember, you’re not doing this for anyone but yourself!