Left, right, left, right.
This could be a very short post. Actually going out for a run isn’t difficult, but really getting into running, making it a lifestyle habit can take a commitment and if you’ve never done it or it’s been a long time, it can be intimidating.
I joined a running group in the past year and it has a list of nearly 100 members, but only 20-25 regularly show up for the weekly runs. Why? A lot of people find ripping the band-aid off to get started overwhelming. Here are 5 steps to get started in running. It’s worth the effort. Running is one of the most beneficial exercises for both mind and body.
Pick a race or a goal
Pick a 5k or go even more ambitious, but having a goal and committing to it can help solidify the running habit and give you something tangible to aim at on the horizon.
A training program, coach, or a fitness app can take some of the stress out of figuring out what you should be doing. There does have to be a cost involved, the internet if full of cheap or free training apps or programs for beginners. The couch to 5k program has a robust community on social media that can also help when you have questions or find you motivation waning.
Keep the gear simple
If it’s been a long time since you ran, you’re worried about your knees, or have a history of injuries, it’s likely worth it to go to a running store and get properly fitted for shoes. Just choosing a random pair that’s on sale off the shelf might work, but might also lead to problems.
At a running-focused store, the staff can analyze your gait to see the shape of your feet and how you actually run — whether you land on your heel or in the middle of your foot and whether you pronate or supinate, rolling your foot inward or outward. The right shoes will help you run in a way that helps you avoid injury.
When you’re getting started, you can keep everything else simple. Get some shorts and t-shirts (not cotton!) made for runners and get out there with your new shoes.
You probably don’t need a fancy GPS watch until you know you’re going to stick with the sport. An app on your phone will give you the time and distance.
Listen to your body
The biggest mistake beginners make is to try to run too far, too soon. Your body needs time to adjust. At the very beginning of your training, you may only run twice a week, and mix in some cross training or walking a few other days. As your body gets stronger, you’ll be able to run more days and more miles, but build up that base slowly.
One of the biggest concerns that most people have about running is avoiding injury, especially to the knees. The right shoes should help, but mostly just listen to your body.
Soreness is good, even expected when you start, but pain is not. If you are in pain, you should stop and rest. If the pain persists after a period of rest, you may need to talk to a trainer or physical therapist to see why you are hurting.
Consider joining a local running group. A running group can provide support, expertise, knowledge, friends, laughs and, most importantly running partners.
It’s not always easy to get out there and do the miles. Having a group there to support you, or just listen to you complain, can go a long way toward helping you reach that finish line goal.
Not every day will be easy — there will be good days and bad days, and over time you’ll have good weeks and bad weeks. But the end goal is to feel good, and that means enjoying it. Over time, you’ll get stronger and faster and feel better. But it should be something that makes you feel healthy and provides a sense of accomplishment, something that makes you want to keep doing it.