Running used to be something I despised. It was that one aspect of physical activity that I did not enjoy. I was the person who cut corners while running laps. I didn’t quite touch the floor while running suicides. Whenever I went to the gym I would avoid the dreadmill at all costs.
When I decided to get my shit together, I knew running would be key to getting fit (groans in annoyance). I started off slowly. At first the longest I could go without stopping was half a mile. It took me 38 minutes to run/walk a 5k. Now I run around 25 miles a week and have ran as many as 8 miles at once. The shocker? I actually enjoy it now (gasps).
So you want to give it a try? Here are a few tips…
Start and finish with a stretch and a walk.
Stretch for about 5 minutes and get a short walk in to begin and end each workout. It will minimize soreness and your risk of injury. In addition, it mentally gets you in the zone and is a great way to procrastinate actually running.
Start off slowly…but don’t get too comfortable.
Try a beginner’s running program such as Couch to 5k. Start from the beginning even if the first few workouts are easy for you. If you want to challenge yourself try increasing your speed rather than breaking from the program. It will help later on when the workouts get more difficult. If you can’t make it through one of the workouts, repeat that week until you can. You should be uncomfortable but you shouldn’t be in pain. If you use a dreadmill, doing the jogging parts at 5mph and walking at 2.7mph should be a good starting point.
Invest in a good pair of running shoes.
You want shoes with good support. This is especially important for injury prevention as your mileage increases. Most sporting good stores will have someone that can help you get the right fit. Having pretty running shoes are also a great incentive to actually run.
Drink plenty of water before, during and after your run. This also makes a great excuse for taking a short walking break.
Listen to music that makes you want to move!
Can you think of a song that gets you motivated or just makes you want to dance? That is the type of music that is great for exercise. When you want to stop, focus in on the music.
Get a friend to join you.
Ask a friend to run with you. This will help with accountability, give you a push of motivation and someone to talk to (if you can still breathe). Ideally you would want someone at a similar fitness level as you so you can stick together during the run.
Sign up for a race.
Sign up for a shorter race like a 5k. There are a ton of fun races like The Color Run. If you don’t mind getting down and dirty, try a short-distance mud run. Races also make great Facebook and Instagram material. You can find races in your area on websites like runnersworld.com and active.com.
Don’t worry about being judged.
I used to be really self-conscious when I first started running. I was worried about people judging me for my lack of fitness. While there may be a few people that judge, don’t worry about them. Most people will not judge you. We all start somewhere. And for the few that do, who cares what they think? Are you going to let them stop you from achieving your goals? Just focus on your workout. This is about you and your fitness.