The top ten things you need to know to get moving on your run today.
Yes, it’s trendy and it seems like everyone out there is taking up running. But this is one trend that always works. It works for weight loss, it works for fitness, for mental health, for stress relief, and even for fun. But to get to those benefits, you have to work to make running work for you.
The first few weeks are hard. Very hard. It’s hard to motivate yourself and it’s hard to push yourself physically. But the more effort you put into it, the more you’ll take out of it. So here are some tips that I can offer based on my experience, and I’d love to hear some of yours.
Start with the Shoes.
These are the only piece of “gear” you’ll need that can be expensive. Go to a running store and have your gait evaluated to be fitted for the ideal pair of shoes for you. This is important—what works for your friend might be terrible for you. The wrong shoes can cause damage to your ankles and knees. Start smart.
Make an Awesome Playlist.
The music you listen to will set the tone of your workout. Everyone has different preferences. Some prefer very beaty dance music. I prefer songs that have a good beat in the background and words I can belt out with gusto—even if only in my head. Songs with motivational words also help.
Build Endurance Before Speed.
When you’re starting out, it’s more important to be able to maintain your speed for a longer time than to run faster for less time. The Couch to 5K program is the ideal way to build yourself up. Start running in one minute increments and build your endurance to 30 minutes of non-stop running. When you’ve completed the program, you can choose to work on longer runs (which will become easier as your body becomes more familiar with the activity) or you can work on increasing your speed. I’m a slow runner, and I’m ok with that. Click here to see the the app that I used.
Go Outside and Go Places.
The best way to motivate yourself to run longer distances is to run outdoors. The more locations you frequent, the better. Keep it interesting. Find a flat route—running tracks are great—for your initial training. Once you’ve built up your endurance, you can move on to harder terrain.
The Treadmill is Good for Something.
While the treadmill is the more boring option, it will help you stay on track with your running schedule. For when you can’t run outdoors, access to a treadmill is a necessity.
Wear the Right Clothing.
What you wear to run is also a personal choice. The most important thing is to wear socks that wick away sweat. Sweaty socks can sideline you with painful blisters. Similarly, you may want to wear tech fabric shirts to avoid chafing. For tips on staying warm while running in the winter, see this post.
Keep Drinking Water.
Drinking is important—and not just at the end of the run. If there are no water fountains on your running route, you should be carrying water with you. For some, this wearable water bottle works best. Me, I just carry an 8 ounce Mayim Chayim or Golden Fluff water because they’re just the right size and have a top you can pull open with your mouth. On my longer runs, I refill at a park water station, or I tuck a couple of dollars into my pocket to buy a water bottle at a shop along the way.
Run against traffic. Stick to well-lit areas. Tell someone where you will be running and for approximately how long you expect to be out. Wear reflective clothing in the dark. Use common sense.
Accountability Will Keep You Going.
If you’re the kind of person who can fully motivate yourself, good for you. For the rest of us, it can help to find a running buddy. You don’t need to run together—some are group runners and some are solo runners—but you can cheer each other on and keep each other on track. A bit of healthy competition can go a long way.
And Pretty Soon…Yes, It Will Be Fun.
Don’t expect to love running right away. It takes time but it will come for almost everyone. One day you’ll wake up and realize you are craving a good run.