Want to live a healthier lifestyle? Drunkenly agree to run the local 5k? Want to impress the woman next door?. Ultimately I chose to run simply because I want to live a healthier lifestyle. Like many people, I wasn’t sure where to start aside from simply tying up the old sneakers lying in my closet and start running. Let me share my 5 tips for new runners.
If you are like me you turned to the internet to try and find some place to start. Well if you type “beginning running” into a search engine, you will quickly be overwhelmed with information and ideas. I wonder to myself how can something so simple end up so complicated. Well several months, many tantrums, and a great deal of frustration later, I wanted to share the top 5 tips from one new runner to another.
Invest in a proper pair of running shoes
This may seem obvious, but I cannot overstate how much trouble you can save yourself by taking 30 minutes to work with an associate at your local running store. They will review your running stride and many times record it so you can see the mechanics of your feet as you run. Who knew that some people’s feet naturally roll outward when the foot lands (Supination) and other’s roll inward (pronation). I certainly did not. After a few minutes with an experienced runner, they were able to recommend the appropriate type of shoe for my natural running stride. They were also able to help me decide on how much support I needed versus how much cushioning the shoe provided.
After being fitted with a proper shoe, the aches in my knees and lower legs (shins and calves) were greatly reduced.
Of all the tips for new runners, this is, without a doubt, the most valuable. If you are making a true lifestyle change then this is a non-negotiable tip.
Less is More
This may sound counter-intuitive, but I assure you that trying to do too much too fast will HURT! Running as with any other exercise requires periods of exertion and recovery in order for the body to adapt and become stronger. Well unlike other activities running requires longer periods of recovery. While sorting through the multitude of plans and advice available on the web as well as through trial and error, the 80/20 rule is the best place to start. 80 percent of all your running should be at a low or very low intensity. Best advice is if you plan on incorporating running into your life, build up your base and DO NOT OVERTRAIN.
Walking is perfectly fine
If you are just getting into or recently started running, then you already know that it takes a while to build up the endurance to run for more than a short distance. (When I started, I could not run a 1/4 of a mile). While you are building up that endurance there is absolutely nothing wrong with incorporating walking breaks into your training. In fact, it is one of the best ways to help build your endurance as a new runner. Provided the walking is at a brisk pace, your heart rate and breathing will be accelerated and therefore, your body will be actively improving its aerobic conditioning. I am not sure where I first heard it, but it rings very true;
“You go just as far running a 5-minute mile as you do running a 15-minute mile.”- Unknown
Develop a Mantra
At the beginning, I struggled with staying motivated. Truthfully, I still struggle with staying motivated. Let’s face it, it is hard to be motivated when you can only run for 30 seconds and then walk for 2 minutes. It can be hard to truly appreciate the small gains you make day over day. Don’t let this struggle get the better of you. Most people who stop running do so in the first week of trying. Appreciate the small gains and celebrate the improvements. Even if you find that tomorrow you can jog for 31 seconds… celebrate the accomplishment. You earned it. If you begin to have negative thoughts and trust me EVERYONE has them from time to time, develop a mantra to push the thoughts from your mind while running. “I’ve got this”, “All Walls have doors”, or my personal favorite and fallback “Today, Define yourself” are each examples of good strong mantras. My own experience suggests that you should avoid negative words in your Mantra. Avoid Don’t, Can’t, Won’t, etc., the subconscious is a powerful thing no need to feed it negative energy. Whenever you have a negative thought as you run, immediately start to repeat your mantra. Soon, you will be able to push the negative thoughts out as quickly as they appear and allow positive thoughts to replace them. This may be the most overlooked of the tips for new runners.
Enjoy the process… Because there are no Shortcuts
I would love to tell you that after only a few short months I am running half-marathons and loving every minute of my newly developed and still growing running experience. The truth however, is that I am just preparing for my first 5K and while I have come a very long way (from 1/4 mile before my first walk break on day 1 to about 4.5 miles before my first walk break after 4 months), it takes work and commitment to wanting to become better. There are no shortcuts to improving your running. Learn to enjoy the process of learning to run. Take a moment on your easy run or during your walk breaks to look around you and see if you can notice one thing that you never noticed before. Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment each time you jog a little further than last time or take a shorter break than you did before.