Getting into the world of running can be intimidating. There can be pressures to run a certain speed, use a certain form, or train for a certain distance. The learning curve is huge as you figure out what is right for your body, because every single runner is different. That’s a fact.
I am a beginner, and I am here to offer up some advice for fellow beginners. If you’re just starting out, here are a few tips that have helped me find my way in the running world.
Is your future goal to run a half-marathon? That’s awesome! But start by running a few miles at a time. Even just one mile. It is all about building up your strength and endurance. Take your time and listen to your body! The best thing you can do when you are starting out is to be consistent about your training. They say you can form a habit by doing a task regularly for 66 days in a row. Could be more, could be less. But the point is, it will be tempting to slack off when it comes to running, especially as you are just starting. The more you keep up with your consistent running, the easier it will seem, and the faster you will improve.
Create achievable goals.
Whether you set your sights at qualifying for Boston someday or if you just want to get into better shape physically, your goal is valid. Keep that in mind! As a beginner, you should focus on just running consistently for a few days a week instead of any lofty goals. You can update your goals in phases: once you complete a goal, make a new one and up the difficulty a bit. Incremental goals makes your progression more achievable and will help you develop steadily as a runner instead of making you feel burnt out over a huge goal right away.
Don’t get down.
Be proud of your short runs! In time, they will get easier, and you’ll be rocking longer runs later down the road (no pun intended). If you start pressuring yourself to go farther too quickly, you might end up pushing yourself too hard and getting injured or burnt out. Some find that keeping track of your personal progress in a journal or planner is motivating so you can look back and see how far you’ve come.
Get the right shoes.
This is paramount. Running shoes that fit you properly will make all the difference. You’ll want to consider pronation control, shoe type, fit, and price point as you shoe shop. Get yourself to a running specialty store or check out some of our handy online resources to ensure that you’re finding your shoe sole-mate. (See what I did there?)
Get the right gear.
Moisture-wicking? Check. Breathable? Check. Correct fit? Check. Proper gear for the conditions? Check.
Cotton is not your friend, which was news to me when I started out. Yeah, it’s soft, but it isn’t moisture-wicking. Which is why that awesome t-shirt you got from that one awesome concert gets soaked by the end of your workout.
Breathability is key because if you overheat, you won’t be performing your best, and you may grow to hate running. I used to run in this old windbreaker when it was rainy out, and 20 minutes into my run I felt like death.
Apparel that is made specifically for running will often be constructed in a way that caters to your body’s shape and allows you to move with ease. Features that provide you with uninhibited range of motion include shorts with side splits and raglan sleeves on t-shirts.
Get the proper nutrition.
You are going to begin to see a direct correlation between that nacho feast you scarfed last night and how horrible you feel on your run the next morning. Food is no longer just for fun, it is fuel that has a direct effect on your running performance. And hydrate! Your body is going to need more than it did before.
Find what works.
Are you a solo runner or do you prefer group runs? This is something that will take time to figure out. You’re running style has yet to be discovered, so let yourself experiment with different times of day, different locations, and different routines.
Listen to your body.
Running isn’t supposed to be a painful experience. Chances are if it is for you, you are injured or on your way to becoming injured. As a rule of thumb, if your body says STOP IT RIGHT NOW SERIOUSLY, listen to it. Pushing yourself through pain will not end well. Consult your doctor if pain persists, but chances are you are still figuring out what works for your body. Take the aforementioned topics into consideration and see what needs tweaking.