If you’ve resolved to take up running, not only is it hard to take that first step to run, but to stick with running long term is a commitment in itself. Many people start running and then drop off because it is daunting (I can’t keep count of how many times I did that myself!). Running is a journey, not a destination. You don’t have to run X miles, or at Y pace to be a runner, you just have to put one foot in front of the other, and repeat.
I look back through all those times when I would start and give up within a few weeks. Sharing with you some tips for new runners that helped me when finally that one time 7 years ago I stuck with running.
Invest in the right pair of shoes for YOU
I cannot insist on this enough. The right pair for YOU may not be the same as the pair your awesome running friend uses, or that flashy pair you fell in love with on sight. A specialized running store will analyze your gait and make the right recommendations. And yes, they are expensive $$$. But so very worth it. It could very well be the difference between you sticking to running to dropping out because something hurting due to shoes.
Don’t forget wicking socks for your new shoes!
Don’t worry about Pace
There is running, and then there is sprinting. To the layman, both are the same. And on my every failed attempt, I would sprint. I’d run a couple of blocks as fast as I could and thought that I’d pass out. And I wouldn’t do it again. When I finally slowed down enough to be able to make it through 5 minutes (slow = almost 16 min miles), that’s when I realized that I wouldn’t die and came back for a second run.
And in fact, slowing down helps with endurance and can help you not get injured. If you are not able to have an easy conversation while running, you are running too hard.
Don’t let walk breaks bring you down
There are some who will scoff at taking walk breaks, and yet it is once of the most effective ways to build endurance. Jeff Galloway, Olympian and still running at 71, is a very strong advocate of the run-walk method. I could never have imagined and trained for my first (and second and subsequent) half and marathons without walk breaks. Even now, a quick walk break while drinking water every mile gives me the oomph to go longer.
Have a plan and goals
So you started running. What will you do after that first run? Setting goals help me focus and stay on track and gives every run a purpose. A plan will help you get to that goal. Your goal could be as generic as run for 30 minutes 3 days/week or as specific as follow a training plan to run a 5k or any particular distance.
For me, having a first half marathon was a goal and I followed a plan for that. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to complete it if I didn’t follow the goal and I stuck to it. Even now, a goal and training plan motivates me far more than anything else!
Running is hard, until it becomes fun
When I first started running, I had visions of being this long legged gazelle like runner with hair in a perfect ponytail flowing behind me. Errrr…. No. More like a waddling penguin or hippo with breathing issues. I hated running for almost a year, but kept at it because I had signed up to run half marathons (goal setting and following a plan!). Somewhere in between the time I took those first steps and now, something changed. I went from a Whiney Runner to a Kumbaya Runner. You will find that too, just stick with it.
Good luck with your resolution of becoming a runner.