Monday, November 26, 2012

"How to" Tuesday: How to Start Running

"HOW TO" Tuesdays - yeah I'm gonna pretend to be an expert on something besides irregularly posting on my blog...ha!  

Today's "how to" stems from a conversation I had with a non-running friend who asked not only how to get started running, but also how to maintain a running schedule with a jam packed lifestyle.  Here's my list of tips:
How to Start (and keep) running:

1) Start slow. 

Starting to run too often and too fast will lead to either injury or burn out, neither of which will encourage running for the long term.  Depending on what your fitness level is, you may want to begin with a run/walk method to ease into regular exercise (for example, run 4 minutes, walk one minute, repeat).  Do this for a few weeks and then increase time spent running vs. the time spent walking.    Also, focus on running for a specific amount of time instead of mileage or pace.  Speed and distance will come with time, but establishing a good base is the key to getting there.

2.  Invest in good shoes. 

Running is a fairly minimalist sport - all you really need are shoes and an open road.  However, as all feet aren’t the same, neither are all shoes.  Depending on your feet and how you run, different shoes will help or harm you.  I always recommend going to a specialty running store that provides a gait analysis.  The staff should be able to assess the way you run and recommend a shoe that will work best for you and your running style.  Let’s be real – if your feet don’t feel good, you aren’t going to want to run!  Making sure you have the right shoes for the job will help you stay on the road.

3.  Sign up for a race. 
Knowing that your hard earned money has been spent on a race registration will get you out the door and running – as will the overwhelming desire to not collapse on the course because you didn’t train!   Finding a race with good swag (great shirt/medal) provides an added incentive and thinking of the finish line as you train will keep you going.  The medal around your neck will be worth the effort.  Try this link to find a race near you.

Another great motivational tool is to sign up for a race supporting a cause you believe in.  Raising money for the Leukemia Society through Team in Training has put many runners across the finish line of their first marathon.  Combining running with a cause you are passionate about will make you more likely to see the training through.  Here's a link to just a few of the many races supporting a cause.
4.  Find friends to run with. 
As many of you know,  my friends and I run early in the morning 3 to 4 times a week.   It’s dark.  It’s often rainy.  But I do it consistently and why?  Because I’ve committed to meet my friends and knowing they are outside waiting for me will get me out of my warm bed better than any alarm clock.
Having friends that run also gives running a dual purpose – it’s not just for physical fitness, but a social outlet as well.   I’ve solved a myriad of the world’s problems while commiserating with my sisters on the run.  I look forward to my long weekend runs not only for the running, but for the companionship and company I have during the outing.
If you don’t have any friends who run, check your local running store for a running group that meets regularly.  These groups are usually open to all levels of runners and are a great way to meet like-minded people who will encourage you to keep running.  You might even make some new friends while you are at it!
5.  Setup a training schedule.   
Simply vowing to fit running into your life is not a recipe for consistently doing it (if it were no one would ever have to re-make a New Years resolution!).  Having a schedule will help you stay on track and allow you to see the work you have put in as you progress, further motivating you to continue.  Search online or ask your running friends for a running schedule that will work with your current fitness level and put you on the path to reach your goals.  The Couch to 5K program is an excellent place to start for those with little to no running background.  Other resources like Hal Higdon and Runners World, have training schedules for multiple race distances (5k through Marathon) as well as maintenance plans for running without a race goal in mind.
6.  Reward yourself. 

If all else fails…bribe.  This is my mantra with parenting, and it works for running too.  I’ve heard of people paying themselves for every mile run during a training cycle and rewarding themselves with a shopping spree at the culmination of the race.  It could be something as simple as a coffee with friends after a long run (my personal fave).  Whatever works to motivate you (that you can afford!) use it!
7.  Set Yourself up for Success. 
Schedule your running time when you are most likely to get it done.  For me, this means early morning because I can get it out of the way before the schedule of the day dictates I do other things.  I KNOW that if I don’t get my run done early I will be less likely to fit it in later.   If your best chance is at lunch or after work, then schedule it in.  Make it a part of the routine, not an afterthought that you need to cram in if you have time. Remind yourself that you will never regret a run afterwards…you will only regret it if it doesn’t happen at all.

And finally, my most important tip:
8.  Don't take any of it too seriously and remember to have FUN!

What are your tips to just keep running?


jillconyers said...

Great tips! I think you covered them all!

Teamarcia said...

Love this! It brings back memories of how long I ran in non-running shoes. Ha!

Tink said...

Great are an expert after all!

Suz and Allan said...

These are great tips for being just starting out with running!

Christy @ My Dirt Road Anthem: A Runner's Blog said...

Nicely done. That shoe cartoon cracked me up!

Anonymous said...

One great tip I use is to make sure to take a day off. Sometimes when I run too much, I get to the point where I just don't want to do it anymore! So I schedule a day off so I know that I'll have a day to just "hang".

Otherwise, I think you covered it all!!! Great job!

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