Something I’ve grown particularly fond of over the last few years is running. It started off as a way to lose the few pounds I’d gained during university from eating late-night junk food and drinking beer a bit too often. It turned into something extremely fulfilling for both my body and mind. Over the weekend, I ran my first 5k race – a fun run featuring hundreds of Ugly Christmas Sweaters! I was happy with my time and pace, especially since I was totally overheating by the end in my chunky red sweater.
Here’s the thing though. Like so many folks who decide to start running, I totally sucked at it for a while. Stopping, starting, running out of breath, getting horrible side cramps, giving up for weeks at a time, maxing out at 1k, giving up again, maxing out at 5k, wondering if I’d ever be able to run more than that. You know how it goes. Over time, though, I began to realize that that learning curve was natural – so I figured I’d pass on some tips for getting into running based on my experience.
1. Slow and steady does win the race
I started out thinking I was a total failure if I wasn’t running 5k within a couple weeks. Not true. Your body needs to get used to the whole running thing – let’s be real, most of us spend most of our days sitting at desks. Running is the opposite end of the spectrum. What that in mind, give yourself a nice long stretch of time to slowly train. Programs like Couch to 5k are a great way to start. And that brings me to my next point.
2. Set a goal
Sure, you can run aimlessly without knowing how far you’re going, but there’s something truly exciting about hitting a milestone. Start off with a goal of 2k… then 5k… then maybe work up to a 10k (I finally hit that mark this year.) It won’t happen overnight, but having something to shoot for can keep you motivated.
3. Use a buddy system
Few things are better motivation then friends. (Preferably ones who nag a little bit). I also run with my boyfriend, which helps push me a bit farther. If none of your friends are into running, try joining a running club. For instance, in Toronto, the Parkdale Roadrunners meet every week and welcome beginners. Google local running clubs to see what’s around in your area!
4. Sign up for a race
We all like to get our money’s worth for things. So why not sign up for a race to give you incentive to train? Pay the fee, sign up for one that’s a few months away, then just keep on running. It’ll give you a goal to strive for and help you set a concrete timeline and schedule to get you there. Sign up with friends to help motivate you all. And then enjoy the satisfaction of pursuing a goal!
Do you have running tips to share? Let me know in the comments!