Becoming a runner can be daunting.
Day 1 seems simple enough: You throw on a pair of shoes (any pair will do, right?) and walk into the crisp air, head held high, envisioning yourself gliding down the sidewalk. Roughly 100 feet in, it feels like your brain and legs don’t seem to be connected to each other, and by the end of the second block you’d like to double over and clutch your knees — but you don’t because the neighbors are waving at you.
How do you keep running when it’s so hard? What will get you to lace up again tomorrow?
Here’s what every new runner needs to know about what running isn’t:
- Running isn’t about speed.
- Running isn’t about PRs.
- Running isn’t about how far you go.
Here’s what every new runner needs to know about what running is: Running is a process you can enjoy by allowing yourself to go on a journey. You don’t have to run three miles on Day 1, you just have to put one foot in front of the other and then do it again tomorrow. And then the next day.
Now that you understand my philosophy on running, here are a few more tips to help you get past that windsucking phase to continue the journey. After running for 13 years, finishing eight marathons, too many halfs and 10Ks to count, I can tell you all of these tips still apply:
1. WALK BEFORE YOU RUN
I know what you might think: “Wait, is your first how-to-run tip, actually not to run?” Yes.
When you’re starting out, always walk before you run. Literally warm up to every run with at least a half mile of walking, which increases blood flow to prevent stiff muscles and can help your breathing. Then use frequent walk breaks during your run to allow you to get in more time running. Over time you’ll naturally feel like you can decrease the breaks, but always keep the warmup walk.
2. SLOW DOWN TO EVENTUALLY SPEED UP
Stop trying to go so far, or so fast, on Day 1 — or Day 30 for that matter! When you find you can’t breathe, slow down. When you find you just can’t break a distance barrier, slow down. When running sounds awful, slow down.
Eventually this slowing down leads to speeding up, but you need to build a solid base first.
READ MORE > 5 EASY WARMUP MOVES TO BOOST YOUR RUNS
3. SUCCESS IN NUMBERS
Many people are afraid to join a running group because they think they might be the slowest person there. As someone who has moved all over the country and tested a lot of groups, I can tell you there are always walkers, there are always super stars and everyone is welcome.
If you happen upon an unfriendly group, hightail it out of there and find another one. Nothing keeps you showing up for runs like having friends or even acquaintances who expect you to be there.
READ MORE > WHY RUNNERS SHOULD JOIN A RUN CREW
4. INVEST IN GOOD GEAR
You probably know that better running shoes are going to make your knees, legs and feet feel better, but you might be surprised to find you really do need some of those expensive socks! Any runner will tell you how very important they are for preventing blisters and keeping feet happy. You don’t want to learn the hard way.
What do you really need?
5. WHEN IN DOUBT, SMILE
Fake it until you make it, right? When you force yourself to smile, it lifts your spirits. Take a moment to look around you and enjoy the fresh air, the sunshine and the fact you are making this choice to get more fit.
Along with this little trick, here are standard mind games runners play:
- Run to the next stop sign, then you can walk. Or, maybe the next one. Or the next one — you get the picture.
- Run until you’ve hit a round number on your watch.
- Using mantras, like “stronger with each step” can also help.
Running is a journey! Just put one foot in front of the other and see where it takes you.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN