It’s easy to start beginner’s guide to running, right? Don’t you just get out of the front door and go? The answer to this question is both yes and no. Yes, running requires a lot of internal motivation—oomph, if you will. Getting out the front door is a good portion of the battle; once you do make it outside, though, your body and mind must keep that forward motion. It can be a challenge, but that challenge is part of the appeal for those who lace up regularly.
But why even run in the first place? For many Americans, life is so exhausting already that voluntarily adding a couple of miles into your day sounds like something only crazy people do. Perhaps runners are a bit crazy after all. (As a runner myself, I think it’s okay to say that.)
In addition to being a little crazy, though, runners are also an exceptionally happy and healthy group of people. It’s a good thing for you that this group is not exclusive. Do you want to? It’s possible to start today.
You wiggle yourself into compression gear, lace up some fancy neon sneakers, press play on your meticulously-compiled playlist and run until you just can’t take another step. Then, you realize you’ve only made it five blocks and you’re going to have to call your spouse to come to pick you up because you can no longer move. (That is, you would call if you could only get your cell phone out of that armband contraption holding it hostage. Seriously?) You’re tired, out of breath, and embarrassed. What did you do wrong?
Shocker—you didn’t do anything wrong. The mentality that every runner has to run marathon distances and set record paces is not only false but can be detrimental to your progress. Instead of beating yourself up that you only made it five blocks, try celebrating the fact that you hit the road and made it that far. Your attitude about your abilities directly affects the success of all your endeavors, including this one.
Be fine with five blocks. Maybe next time, aim for six. Start small, increase your distances slowly, and be proud of your accomplishments instead of believing they aren’t worthy. Set attainable goals and celebrate when you accomplish them.
Fuel your body.
Proper nutrition is essential to the success of any new exercise program, and running is no different. Many people think runners need to “carb load,” or consume a high to moderate amount of carbohydrates before a run; this is true if you’re going to log some serious miles. Going to run a few miles or less?
First of all, good for you! But that doesn’t mean you need to eat three helpings of spaghetti on the eve of your run. Eventually, if you decide to gear up for the long run, you’ll definitely need those carbs, but don’t weigh yourself down unnecessarily in the meantime. (Tip: Avoid consuming a large amount of protein right before a run. It takes longer to digest in the body and can make you feel overly full.)
Remember that carbohydrates can also be found in items besides pasta and bread. Try eating more fruits, vegetables, and nuts as part of your healthy diet.
Sign up for a race.
Signing up for a race in advance gives you something to look forward to in your training. (For added motivation, sign up with a friend so you can both train and experience the race together.) Pick a race that benefits a particular charity you support, one held in a destination you’ve always wanted to visit or one close to home.
Once you choose your race, write the date on a calendar you can see every day. After you’re registered, you’ll need to determine how you will train. There are many pre-developed training plans you can choose from; or, if you don’t want to follow an outside program, just pick a weekly goal for the number of miles you’d like to reach. Make sure to write your miles down on the calendar to track your progress and build anticipation. Do you have a goal time? Focus on that. Is your goal to finish? Focus on that.
Make sure you’re prepared on race day and let yourself enjoy the experience. Look around you at the starting line—runners come in all sizes and from every lifestyle. The running community is supportive, and you deserve to be a part of it. You can start your journey today.