Catching the Running Bug: 5 Running Tips from a Beginner
It’s not unusual for fitness-minded folks to take up pavement pounding as a hobby – after all, it’s great for your legs, core, butt, and cardiovascular system – but I think I’ve officially caught the running bug, something that years of chronic back and knee problems led me to believe was impossible. But now, I find that running is turning from just a healthy practice into something that I can get competitive about, that can be both fun and satisfying, and that I really enjoy sharing with the people in my life.
Know what started this mental metamorphosis? Signing up for my first race.
Featured on this Greatist list of The 21 Most Incredible Themed Races, my first official 5k was our local Color Run, an event described as the happiest race on earth. I was lucky enough to share this experience with my sweetie, and the result is that I’m now gearing up for my first 8k.
How am I doing it? Check out 5 of the ways that I’m slowly transforming myself from someone who thinks they enjoy running into an actual runner.
1. Find ways to stay motivated BEFORE your run. Getting on the road (or the sidewalk, track, treadmill, or trail) is the most important part of your run, but getting out there can be a struggle. Sit your running shoes by the door. Set a persistent alarm on your phone. Anticipate finishing and plan a way to reward yourself. Get someone to call you to remind you to run, schedule calls with an accountability buddy after your run, or find someone to run with – peer pressure can make you act really stupid when you’re younger, but you can use it to your advantage here.
2. Find ways to stay motivated DURING your run. When it comes to methods to get (and keep!) yourself going, there are as many ways out there as there are brains, so start experimenting. (I personally like some of the ones listed here.) I never used to believe it, but when runners say their bodies could go forever but their minds are what limit them most, I’m realizing it’s the truth. When I’m counting my steps, when I’m picking goals to run to (that lightpost, that sidewalk, that intersection, etc.), and when I’m reminding myself of how proud I’ll be when I finish, the exertion somehow gets easier. Not less painful or tiring, but just less… stressful, maybe. And from there, more enjoyable and easier to continue.
3. Draft a running buddy. Notice how my first two points include using other people to help you stay motivated? Find someone to run with you – especially if you’re either really competitive or need regular encouragement – and you’ll almost certainly increase your performance.
4. Sign up for a race. In sales, this is called assuming the close – that is, going into the situation assuming that you’ll perform well enough to close the deal. It may sound intimidating at first, but in this context, you’re giving yourself a concrete timeline for improvement and assuming that you’ll get there by your promised deadline (which should also be realistic, giving you enough time to train and reach your goals without setting yourself up for failure). After all, at this point you’ve already paid your registration fee and likely found somebody to run with you or cheer you on, so how sucky would it be to flake out?
5. Make a plan. I love schedules and calendars and spreadsheets and, really, plans in general. It’s comforting to have a path to follow, even if you end up having to deviate from it; also, if something’s on my calendar, I’m going to feel at least a little obligated to do it. So it’s no surprise that after giving myself a goal, I looked up and personalized plans to help myself get there. For instance, check out my 8k plan, based on a few half marathon training plans out there. In addition to training plans, I’m also making plans for future races — researching, registering, recruiting team members — to give myself more concrete goals.