So you have decided that you want to be a runner. You have heard what all the hype is about and you want to jump aboard. But how do you start so that you will keep going? How do you run without sabotaging your efforts and end up injured, disappointed and back where you began? Here are a few tips to get you running and help you stay running for years to come.
1. Find your reason
What is the reason you are starting to run in the first place? Is it to shift unwanted weight, have a healthier lifestyle, explore nature, meet friends, connect more with others, or get fitter? Harness the reason that you are starting and use that reason to set you up to be the runner that you want to be. It might be a social runner, you might want to set yourself a lofty goal of completing an event. Whatever the reason is, make this a priority. It is ok that this reason may change shape over the course of the coming weeks and months, but firstly tell yourself why it is you are starting. Write it down so that you can go back to it later in your journey and see if the reason you started was accomplished or if it may have even changed down the track.
2. Find the people
Starting out running can be a daunting task. You may have a little background in what to do or you may have absolutely no idea, so it is important to gather some information first before we begin. It could be reading some information online around how to start out like you are doing now. It could be that you google a training group near you or a place like RMA that has local people to help connect with you and your goal to start running that you can learn from. It could be attending your local parkrun and surrounding yourself with other people that also love to run so that you can ask questions. It is good to go alone, but sometimes it is good to be connected or have a place to ask advice, so that you when you are unsure of what to do you have someone to help guide you to the next step.
3. Be kind to yourself – don’t compete with others
Remember, you are just starting out. Don’t compare yourself to other people that have been running for much longer, or even how much further they are running than you. It isn’t wise to start out and push yourself too far, too fast. This will just lead to injury and burn out. There is a real issue with FOMO, especially around events, but you need to remember that you are a preschooler in the big wide school of running and you need to go through all the grades to get to the graduation. You can’t just skip ahead or it will spell disaster. Instead of comparing yourself, learn from others that have gone before you. Ask all the questions, listen to their stories and learn from them, and use that to help set yourself some future goals.
4. Consistency is key
Without consistency there will be no improvement. You can’t expect to run once a week, or every few weeks and see things get better for you, so make sure that you set yourself a few days during the week for consistent training. It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t always have to be intense, but it does have to be consistent. You are more likely to tick off your training if you set yourself a set time that works on a regular basis rather than just a ‘wait to see what happens in the day’ kind of attitude, so schedule it in and get it done and you will see the results speak for themselves.
5. Strength is important
You are asking your body to support itself running, and building that run to a longer sustainable time. Without strength you are just asking for your body to withstand that impact without a strong foundation to keep you going. It is important to work on our strength. This doesn’t mean that you need to join the local gym, or even have access to weights. You can do some strength related exercises that are running specific in the comfort of your own lounge room. See some strength for runners exercises from Runners World here. Make these exercises a priority and schedule them consistently like you do your running sessions. Also work on your mental strength. This is what is going to see you going longer and faster in the months to come. For some tips on mental strength head here.
6. You’ve got to work up to it
Like a career, you won’t be starting your running journey at the top of the podium. You have to start slow to begin with, gradually increasing your speed as you get stronger and your body can maintain the pace for a longer period. Likewise you need to gradually increase your distance as you become stronger and fitter. Don’t try and go out and run a marathon in the first few months of starting to run, it will only end in pain and injury. Set yourself a goal and work towards it. The best results come from those who are patient, who work their way up to their goal over time and don’t rush the process. If your friends are running longer than you, choose to meet them at the beginning or the end of the run. If your friends run faster, well don’t run with them all the time or for all of your run. Use them when you have hit your pace goal or when you need someone to give you a little boost in a session, or even ask them to help you hit your target on their easy days, but while you are still learning you are best to listen to your body and respond over time.
7. Rest is important
Just like consistency is key, rest is also important and should be an important part of any training schedule and cycle. You will need to give yourself a few rest days per week. This could be total rest or it could be cross training. You can’t be running every single day when you are starting out, and rest will help you to recover after all the work that your body has been doing, allowing your muscles and blood vessels to absorb all your training, to build on your fitness, and increase your endurance and speed. Without adequate recovery this won’t happen and you are risking yourself becoming unwell or injured. Once you have a schedule that works for you, make sure that rest and recovery days are part of it.
8. Mix it up
There is nothing easier to stop someone continuing to do something than boredom. If you were to continue to run the same way and the same place every single time you laced up, chances are you wouldn’t run for very long, and you certainly wouldn’t keep doing it for years to come, so mixing it up is important. This could be mixing up the type of training, such as speed, intervals, hills, long runs, tempo’s or easy runs, or it could be mixing up the place you train in, such as on an oval, around your local streets, on the trails, on the beach or in the mountains. It could also be changing who you run with or the time of day that you run. All this variety in your running will help to probably make you a stronger runner and also keep it interesting for years to come.
9. Get some gear
Now we are not talking spending lots of money here. Running is practically free, but if there was one thing that I would recommend buying it would be a good pair of running shoes. This is simply something that you shouldn’t skimp on. When starting out it is best to first of all head to your local running shoe store and get property fitted for some shoes. See our member program for a store near you. So many people make the mistake of buying shoes that are not right for them and this is an investment that is important. The right shoes are going to give you a comfortable ride and also ward off the chance of injury. Sometimes the prettiest shoe isn’t the best option, but the one that is just right for you as a runner is.
10. Have fun
The number one reason that we run is that we love it. We want it to be enjoyable and fun and if it isn’t then there is something that is probably wrong or you haven’t followed the above 9 steps to help you on your way. Each time you lace up you should want to feel like this is something you are excited about, and that whatever the goal is for that particular day, you want to do it with a smile or be smiling at the end. After all, his is why we run, because it makes us feel good.
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