In my years of running, the most common question I get from people I’ve just met is this: How do I start running? Truth be told, despite all the information in books, magazines, or online, it’s not as complicated as you think. Here are simple and practical steps to take on how to get started running:
1+ GET THE RIGHT SHOE. Before you even take that first step, it’s best to start with the right shoe for your foot type. Head over to a running specialty store, ask them about a gait analysis, and have the staff advise you on your foot type and the shoe they recommend (neutral, stability, motion-control, or cushioning.)
2+ GO BY TIME, NOT DISTANCE. For beginners, I recommend counting your time and progressing by minutes rather than being focused on kilometers. For instance, you can start by targeting 15 minutes today, 20 minutes next week, then 30 minutes the week after instead of going for 3k, 5k, and jumping to a 10k. Going by minutes allows you to progress gradually and keeps you safe from injury.
3+ RUN WITH A BUDDY. One of the best ways to pass the time, stay motivated, and keep the entire workout fun is to run with a friend or a running group. Going through the same challenges (why are my muscles so sore?!) to little triumphs (yay, we can run for 30 minutes straight!) will help you enjoy running while getting fit.
4+ STRETCH AND STRENGTHEN. As you begin running, you may get too excited and run day in, day out. Tame your enthusiasm and be wise about your workouts. For beginners, I would recommend running every other day. It is also important to stretch through yoga or simple stretches after a run. If you have the time, do strengthening exercises using your bodyweight or get a personal trainer at the gym who can recommend specific exercises for runners. If you wish for cardio daily, then you can cross train on other days, such as biking, swimming, or elliptical machines at the gym.
Just some of the many strengthening exercises my trainer makes me do at Fitness First
5+ FIT IT INTO YOUR LIFESTYLE. A lot of people fall in love with running because it is convenient, affordable, and accessible. Find the best schedule, location, and pace that works for you. If you have the time to drive out of the city for a trail run, then go for it. If you’re a mom with kids that you can’t leave behind for long, then a quick run in the gym is fine as well. Always remember that your run is flexible enough to be what you want it to be.
6+ ENJOY IT. A lot of beginners get stressed about the proper form, technique, or program that they feel they have to follow to be a good runner. Running isn’t as complicated as you think. For the first few months, just enjoy the wind in your hair, the sweat on your skin, and the positive feeling that running brings to your life. You can focus on a faster time or a longer distance later on. As a beginner, just go out there and take it one step at a time. No pun intended.