I am not technically a new runner. In the last 10 years I’ve run six half marathons and one full marathon. However, after every run that I’ve completed I’ve taken a long break from running. Like at least six months, and sometimes more than a year. So every time I start up again I feel like a newbie. I have to get back into the groove and get motivated to get in shape all over again. I walk a fine like between experienced runner and newbie, and as such I feel very qualified to offer a little advice to those who are new at running.
If you want to set a lofty goal like a half or full marathon go for it, but don’t expect that you’re going to be ready in two or three months. Building endurance takes time, and when new runners push themselves too hard too fast it can result in injury and resentment of the sport. So be realistic about the kind of athlete you are and how much time and energy you’re willing to devote. Any goal is a good one, whether it’s 2km, 5km, 10km or more.
Invest in Good Shoes
The first half marathon I ran ended up being very painful, and it was all because of the shoes. I didn’t know much about running and thought I would be fine with my 10 year old runners. I was not. The tops of my feet were actually bruised because I hit the pavement with so much force and no cushioning. It took several days before I could walk normally again. Since then I’ve made a point of getting proper running shoes and replacing them when necessary. You don’t need to spend a fortune, but new runners and experienced runners alike should consider getting properly fitted at a running store. It’s worth it.
Don’t Spend too Much on Gear
It’s easy to get caught up in the fun and spend a lot on gear, but you really don’t need to. One of the great things about running is that it’s free. As long as you’ve got the proper footwear you can just open your front door and go. Jogging pants, a t-shirt and a sports bra are all you need, so don’t let anyone tell you that you have to have expensive compression pants and fancy tops. When it comes to running it’s all about comfort, so find what makes you feel good and ignore the rest.
Find a Running Buddy
Running with other people is incredible for motivation. While I definitely love a long solitary run, I always do better when I’m with someone else. If none of your friends or family are interested consider joining a running club in your area. They can be a great resource for new runners.
Use an App
Apps are great for helping you stay on pace and stay motivated. I use Map My Run but I’m sure there are others. I like to use it because it gives me my stats at each kilometer so I know how I’m doing. It’s also great to compare current runs with previous runs so I know where I stand. I also like to wear a Fitbit to keep me accountable. The two sync up so I always know exactly where I stand in terms of time, speed, calories burned and steps taken.
Make a Playlist
Putting together a playlist that will keep you motivated is tons of fun. Some people suggest finding songs with a beat that matches your stride, but I don’t bother. I just try to find lively songs that I like to sing along too. As long as it’s fun it keep me going.
Find a Great Podcast
Podcasts are one of the greatest things to happen to runners in the last few years. I’m a fan of true crime stories and when I find a good one I can listen and keep running forever. In fact, I’ve extended some runs by a couple of kilometers just because I want to keep listening! Just make sure that if you’re running through the streets you keep it low enough so that you can hear traffic and stay alert.
Don’t Be Afraid to Walk
I’m a big proponent of walking when necessary. Some people disagree, but who cares? I’ve always believed that as long as you keep going it doesn’t matter if you take walk breaks. In fact, the Running Room teaches a ‘run 10 minute walk one minute’ technique that helps people achieve their running goals. In many cases people who follow this routine finish long runs faster than those who run straight through because the rest gives them an extra burst of energy. So don’t be embarrassed by walk breaks. You do you.
Don’t Let Others Shame You
The day after I completed a marathon I mentioned to someone at work that I took some walk breaks. His response was “well then you didn’t really run a marathon, did you?” And he was completely serious. He had never completed more than a 5k and he was putting down my achievement. Then there was another time when a colleague and her husband saw me running home from work and they drove by at a moment when I slowed down for a one-minute walk break. I received some snarky comments about my definition of “running” the next day. These people were all too ready to shame me, but you know what? It didn’t matter. I knew how hard I worked and what others thought didn’t matter one bit. When you hear this kind of thing brush it off and keep going. I promise you’ll get the last laugh.
The most important thing for running newbies to remember is to be consistent. There will be days when you don’t feel like going, but go anyway. That consistency will help build your endurance and develop the habit. You don’t have to go far, and you don’t have to run hard. Just go and do what you can. No one ever regrets the runs they did, only the ones they didn’t do. Be consistent and stay positive, it’s the only way to reach your goals.
Good luck out there!!!
Photos courtesy of Unsplash and Pexels