Throughout high school and college I have considered myself to be a runner. Now I’m not up before the sun rises to get in a morning run, but I usually get in a solid 30-45 minutes a day and complete the occasional 5k or 10k. I don’t run to complete marathons (but I really hope to some day), beat my personal best time, or to win a race. Running is my therapy. It keeps me sane and gives me time to just not think. There’s something soothing about the soft rubber in your soles colliding with the pavement over and over again. Now, my guide to running is not going to help you lose 15 pounds, but I hope that it brings you some peace of mind, because these are things that have really helped me. Here are some tips that have helped me get my lazy butt off the couch and into my running shoes:
1) Time of Day: Living in Texas, this is a very important aspect of running. You don’t want to be running a few miles when it’s 103 degrees (which sadly isn’t too uncommon for Texas summers). Plan for a time when you won’t pass out from heat exhaustion and also works with your schedule. If you’re a morning person then go ahead and get your run on before school or work. I tend to run after I have gone to school or work for the day, but that’s just because I generally hate doing things before noon.
2) Comfort: When it comes to running, you have to find a balance between pushing yourself too hard and not pushing yourself at all. Do what you are comfortable with, but don’t be afraid to try something different or run a little further than normal…I mean how do you expect to improve without pushing your limits?
3) Pace: This is one of the most technical parts of running. Your pace determines how quickly you will run in a specific amount of time. When first starting your run, try to keep your pace the same throughout the entire run. To mix it up you can try a stride-jog-sprint-walk routine. This is a great way to experiment with different pacing and help you find what works for you. Personally, my favorite pace happens when I take my dog on my runs with me…she keeps me moving and doesn’t give me a chance to stop or slow down.
4) Distance: This is another crucial part of running: deciding how far you can/want to go. Start by completing one mile without stopping, walk for a little bit, and then see if you can do it again. If you continue to do this you will build up your stamina and begin to run further each time. Once you feel confident try running a few 5k’s to see how you measure up (and maybe get some advice from fellow runners).
5) Where?: No matter where you are, there are dozens of places to run within just a few miles. Some people like the repetition of running on a track, and others like to venture off the beaten path. Find a place that brings you peace: around the lake, in your neighborhood, on a track, or on the beach (if you have that luxury).Once you pick a place, try and find a route that you can run everyday for a while. Getting into a routine will help you get into the feel of things.
6) DON’T STOP: To me this is the cardinal rule of running. DON’T STOP. (You can tell I’m serious because it’s in all caps). After years of running, one of the most important things that I have learned is simply about my body, and the fact that my body can do things my mind didn’t even know. So much of running is mental, and if you listen to everything your mind is saying you will make it about 30 seconds into your run. That being said, when your brain tells you to stop…keep going. Your body can always go further than your mind thinks you can. Even if you only go 10 more feet, you can silence that voice in your head telling you to stop.
7) Music: To me, this is my most essential part of running. The music I listen to happens to always reflect my mood at the time, so I find it necessary when I go on a run. I spend countless hours putting together the perfect playlists for that week’s set of runs. I choose fast-paced songs with high energy to help me keep on running. Looking forward to the music I will listen to can also be a huge motivator.
8) Attire: Most importantly, to run you need shoes. I recommend going into an athletic shoe store and getting professional help. Nowadays, there are so many types of running shoes; it’s smart to get a little help to decide which would be the best for you. Once you get your new running shoes, they’re going to be pretty stiff which means you just need to break them in. Don’t get discouraged if they hurt your feet for a few days, that’s normal.
9) Compete: Once you’ve gotten the feel of your running technique and are itching to run with more people, it’s time to run a race or two. A great race to start is the 5k, which is about 3.2 miles. The great thing about races is that you will find so many different types of people there. Professional runners, training runners, and just the runners who do it for fun. After that you can try a 10K or even a half marathon! Try it, and if you don’t feel great about your performance you can always train more and do another one.
10) Groups: Running can be a culture of its own. Find people who are also passionate about running and set something up to go on a run together. There are tons of groups out there that run together, so join one! Getting together with other runners can really open your eyes to different techniques and tips. For me, I love the competition of running with other people so if you want to shave a few minutes off your time, get together with other runners and get at it.
I hope this helps dive into the world of running! Tweet your running tips to @Born_RaisedTX with the hashtag #healthandfitness.