I used to hate running…and part of me still does. But every morning, I lace up my running shoes right as the sun is rising over the horizon and I pound the pavement for an average of 5 miles. The best part about running is being done – having my Nike Running App guy tell me, “Congratulations, you’ve reached your goal of xx miles,” and giving me my average pace. It’s crossing the finish line, getting the medal placed around my neck and devouring the banana I paid for in sweat, tears and a good chunk of change. That’s why I run.
I am not to the point where I will admit that I enjoy running, but I do it, I look forward to it, and it brings me satisfaction. So how did I get from absolutely hating to run to being motivated to run marathons? Why, one step at a time, of course.
If you have been thinking about running, even though you aren’t sure you even like it, here’s how to get started and maybe, just maybe get on the road to enjoying it as well.
First ask yourself, why do you want/need to start running?
- to lose weight?
- to relieve stress?
- to get in better shape?
- you were coerced into a 5k by a so-called friend?
Whatever the reason may be, you need to know why you’re running so that you can remind yourself of this continuously when your alarm goes off too early, or your legs want to give out toward the end of a long run.
I began running due to a combination of reasons – I wanted to get active, I was getting older, I wanted a FitBit, I wanted to lose fat…and once I began running, I signed up for a half marathon. And nothing keeps you on track more than a looming race date (and a running buddy – more on that later).
Before You Begin Running
Besides lacing up your shoes and going, to make things a bit easier, I recommend you get three things.
1. A Running App
I started with the C25k app by Zen Labs. It was a run/walk interval trainer which is one of the best ways for beginners to start. The first day didn’t seem very intimidating – just run 60 seconds and walk 90 seconds for 30 minutes total. I quickly found myself getting bored, so I switched to C210k instead. Somewhere in the middle of that, I decided to run a half marathon and switched to Half Marathon Trainer by Zen Labs. I ran three half-marathons and one full marathon with a walk/run interval.
Once I signed up for the first race, I downloaded the Nike Running App, which gave me a pretty grueling training schedule to prep me. The 6-week training plans are challenging, but I love how it’s all laid out for me each day. Now, I’m working on running without the walk intervals in between.
2. Good Running Shoes
If you’re really serious about getting started with running, invest in some good running shoes. Don’t just grab a pair of Nikes from the closet. I recommend going to a running store and having them test you how you run. You may need extra support or special arch inserts. It does get pricey for a good pair of shoes and inserts, but without them, your new hobby may be a painful one as your shoes are hindering your progress.
A good pair of shoes can be around $100-150, and custom inserts can be around $75. It’s not a cheap hobby.
3. A Running Buddy
Find someone you can run with. It would be ideal to start with someone who is also starting, so you don’t feel like you’re holding them back, but the important thing is finding someone who will run with you and keep you accountable. Running can be a lonely sport (which can also be a good thing) but having a running buddy there with you to push you in those last miles when your legs want to give out or knowing that they are waiting for you every morning, will help prevent you from pressing snooze in the morning.
During the Run
So, now you are out there. You have your shoes, your buddy, and your apps. Nothing left to do but run. Put on a podcast or some running tunes. Spotify has some good running playlists that matches the tempo to your pace. As you begin building your endurance and running longer and longer distances, you will need to work on your mental game.
A large part of running is mental. Your mind will be ready to quit before your body does and part of being a successful runner is learning when to listen and when to not listen. Sometimes your body will tell you that it’s done. Other times it will tell you that you’re done, but you know that it’s not true. You’ll need to begin to discern which is which.
Sometimes during a race, I find myself getting emotional. It seems weird, but it makes sense. You are pushing your body to the limit physically and mentally. There’s gotta be an outlet.
After the Run
After you’ve finished running, be sure to stretch. You’ll probably be sore for a few days, but that’s a good thing! It tells you that you’ve worked those muscles. To alleviate some of the soreness, take an Epsom Salt bath, foam roll and keep moving. You’ll notice that as you recover, staying in one position too long will cause your body to stiffen up. Keep it loose by going on a short walk or stretching.
Drink lots of water to replenish lost fluids and make sure you are eating good, real food. Remember that you are fueling your body not just for running but for life.
I also use Glutamine in a powder form in my protein shakes to help ease some of the soreness. It’s tasteless and blends well in a green smoothie I make after every run. If it’s a long run, I replenish with coconut water (no sports drinks! they are terrible for you).
Running is not for everybody, but sometimes, it takes actually doing it for a while to find out that it is for you!