I wasn’t always a runner. In fact, I was a beer-guzzling, anti-gym college student before I received the biggest wake up call of my life–my best friend sat me down and told me I had to ditch my unhealthy habits. Something about her "intervention" really struck home for me, and I soon laced up my sneakers to follow her on a "short run" (she was training for a marathon at the time).
I couldn’t even go 1/4 of mile without dying. But, I didn’t let myself get discouraged; instead, I felt challenged to improve my endurance and my overall health. Years of yo-yo diets and inconsistent exercise were suddenly over. I was on the running bandwagon!
One of the best things about running is that you can see instantaneous results from your efforts. It may take you six months to lose 10 pounds, but after just ONE WEEK of running, you can see a noticeable difference in your endurance and speed. What a glorious feeling!
Many people ask me for running advice— "How did you get started?" or "Don’t you get sweaty and hot and just want to STOP?" Now, I’m not a professional runner or an Olympic track and field star, but I know what’s worked for me:
- Start slow and short! You don’t want to burn yourself out–mentally OR physically. Don’t try to pound out a 5 miler on your first run, and don’t be disappointed if you have to stop after 10 minutes. Similarly, don’t try to be a SPEED demon right away. I run 10 minute miles outside, and that’s fine by me!
- Try the Galloway Method, which is basically walk/run/walk/run. You walk for 2 minutes, then run for 2 minutes, then walk for 2 minutes, etc. This gives you time to catch your breath and cool down. Gradually decrease the amount of time you spend walking.
- Stay hydrated! On long runs, I wear a CamelBak. I always take a water bottle with me, minimum! This is equally important in the winter.
- Dress intelligently. Invest in a good sports bra and a quality pair of running shoes. I replace my sneakers every 6 – 8 months. In the summer, wear loose-fitting, non-cotton clothes, and layer your workout gear in the winter.
- Find a running buddy. It’s best if you can run with someone slightly better than you who is willing to walk when you need to. A running buddy holds you accountable, pushes you to improve, and gives you someone to chat with — which helps the time fly by.
- Sign up for a race! I love doing races. Races give you motivation to succeed, and it makes your workout schedule have a "point." Here’s a list of recommended training programs.
Also, I really believe that running is all mental. OK, maybe it requires some level of cardiovascular fitness, but the biggest challenge presented by running is simply FIGHTING THE DESIRE TO STOP! Let’s face it–when it’s hot and you’re bored, slowing to a walk is really tempting.
To fight the urge to slow down, I do one of the following things:
- Rock out to tunes. Listening to music (on low if outside) while running is fun and gives you a "beat" to focus on.
- Plan my day. I use running as an opportunity to sort through my life and get mentally organized.
- Zone out. Running serves as excellent mediation. Focus on your breathing, the feel of your blood coursing through your veins, and the sensation of power pushing through your legs.
- Think positive! Too many people focus on how "hard" running is–well, of course it seems hard if you bitch and moan about it. I talk and think about running as my life’s passion, even when I was just starting out. Put a positive spin on exercise, and it won’t seem like a chore!
- Just do it. Seriously. Sometimes, I don’t want to run, but I just lace up my shoes and GO. By the time I know it, I’ve pounded out 3.0 miles and my run is over. Yay!
If you have any other good tips to share, I’d love to hear them. 🙂 Happy running!