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Here’s a scenario that you might find familiar: you know the health benefits of running, you know that running is a great way to de-stress and relax, and you reeeeeally want to get into a regular running routine, but there’s one small problem. You don’t actually like running. What then?
You’ve probably heard the expression, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” The full quote, spoken by Theodore Roosevelt is actually,
[pullquote width=”600″ float=”none”]“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”[/pullquote]
I love that quote because it’s true for so many aspects of life, particularly running. Those people you see running every morning? Sure, maybe some of them are natural-born runners, people who learned how to run before they could walk.
But here’s the truth.
The majority of those people are just like you and me. People who decided they want to start running, maybe because someone they looked up to was a runner, maybe because they knew of the health benefits, so they laced up their sneakers and they hit the pavement. And it was hard. And maybe they hated it. Perhaps they even quit running for a few weeks. But for some reason, they decided to start again and they learned how to actually like running.
Now, when it comes to exercise, I’m a huge advocate of finding something you love instead of forcing yourself to do something you hate.
But I feel like the fact that you’re reading this right now means that for whatever reason, you’ve decided that you want to run, and you want to actually like running.
So here are 10 running tips for beginners that will help to make running something you look forward to rather than a chore.
1. Start Slow
It can be easy to get swept up in the focus on race times, running pace, etc., but as a beginner, don’t worry about any of that stuff. Pushing yourself too hard in the beginning can lead to injury, which is the last thing you want. Take it slow, run at a comfortable pace where your breathing isn’t too labored and if you find yourself panting and struggling to breathe, then dial it back a few notches.
2. Invest In Some Proper Running Shoes
I made this mistake when I first started running and I paid the price – 8 weeks of full-time physical therapy. Running is one of the cheapest hobbies and forms of exercise you can participate in, but it is important that you invest in a good pair of running shoes. They don’t have to be a top-of-the-range $300 pair, but don’t go lacing up your old Chuck Taylors and hitting the pavement.
New Balance is one of my favorite brands of running shoe, and these 630v5 Flex Ride Running Shoes come with excellent reviews at a budget-friendly price.
3. Run Outdoors
Have you ever ran a kilometer on a treadmill and then run a kilometer outdoors? If so, you’ll know what a difference there is between the two. That’s because when you’re running on a treadmill, the treadmill actually does part of the work for you.
As such, running outdoors works the glutes, legs and core way more than running on treadmill. This means that you’ll get stronger quicker by running outdoors. You’ll also burn more calories, build more muscle and increase your heart health, not to mention getting to take advantage of the scenery, which is much better than staring at TV screen or a blank wall at the gym.
4. Take a Friend
Finding a running mate who’s at a similar stage in their journey as you can be a great motivator, and a good way to keep each other accountable. It’s much easier to skip a run when you know that the only person you’re letting down is yourself.
5. Or Go It Alone
Alternatively, if you’re the type of person who prefers to run by yourself (*raises hand) then don’t feel obligated to have a running buddy. While I do enjoy going on the occasional run with a friend, I much prefer running by myself. It’s a chance for me to be alone with my thoughts, or just to clear my mind completely.
6. Don’t Run On A Full Stomach
You know how your parents used to warn you not to swim on a full stomach or you’ll sink? So, the sinking part probably isn’t true, but it’s not a good idea to do any form of exercise on a full stomach, running included.
It may sound strange, but running on a full stomach actually gives you less energy – your body is devoting a part of it’s resources to digesting the food you just ate, which takes away from the energy you need to run. Additionally, running on a full stomach can lead to cramps (also known as stitches), stomach aches, and nausea.
However, it’s also not a good idea to run on a completely empty stomach, so try having a small, healthy snack to fuel your run. Crudites with hummus, an energy ball or two, or a banana with some nut butter are all good post-run snack options.
7. Fire Up Your iPod
Sometimes I like to run in silence, just getting lost in my own thoughts. But often, I prefer listening to music or podcasts during my run. If you’re the type of person who finds that running gets a bit boring after a while, then fire up your iPod and listen to your favorite jams. Alternatively, take the opportunity to tune into your favorite podcasts (because let’s face it, how much time do you usually get to listen to a podcast uninterruped? Running is the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone!)
8. Set a Goal
When you set yourself a goal, no matter how big or small, you’re more likely to follow through than if you’re just running to run. Your goals can be as big or as small as you want them to be, but it’s important that you break those big goals down into smaller more manageable goals.
For example, say your BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) is to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but you’ve never ran further than your mailbox when you saw the mailman drop off your FabFitFun box. Break that goal down into smaller steps. First, complete a Couchto5k program. Then run your first 5k race. Then start increasing your speed, and so on.
Breaking your BHAG’s <<love that acronym 😉 into smaller goals will help keep you motivated and ensure you’re celebrating the smaller wins along the way.
9. Don’t Feel Like You Have To Be A Morning Person
Lots of runners love getting up early, lacing up their running shoes and going for their run early in the morning, while everyone else is fast asleep. And while an early morning run is a great way to start the day, if you’re not a morning person then don’t feel obligated to drag yourself out of bed at 5am.
Go for a run on your lunch break. If you’re a SAHM, strap the kids in the stroller and go for a run during the day. Or wait until everyone’s settled down for the evening and go for a run at night (be sure you take proper safety precautions, including always running in well-lit, populated areas.)
The point is, do what works for you and don’t feel like you have to do what “everyone else” seems to be doing.
10. Remember Why You Started
Finally, whenever you’re finding it difficult to lace up your shoes or push through the burn, remember why you started. Maybe you wanted to drop some pounds and increase your cardiovascular fitness. Perhaps you wanted to increase your bone strength and help to prevent osteoporosis. Maybe some of the people you look up to are runners and you wanted to have that same “runners high” they talk about. Perhaps you wanted to set a great example for your kids.
Whatever the reason, remember – when the going gets tough, the tough get going. So lace up your shoes, pop in your headphones and hit the pavement. You’ll be glad you did.
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