The first rule of running is anyone can do it. If you can run and if you do run, you are a runner and no one can take that away from you. The best thing about it, is that in order to be a runner you don’t have to apply for a license, pass a test or give an oath, the moment you get out of the door, step outside and take off you are admitted to the brotherhood of runners.
We all start to run for different reasons. There is no shame in coming to running in the hope of losing weight or getting in a better shape. We all start somewhere and whatever your reasons are, if they get you going and if they keep you on track these reasons are good enough for anyone out there. Some run because it’s more convenient than following a program, it burns the extra calories. Others run because they like the sense of control and empowerment they get out of it. We all have our reasons and if you have defined yours, here are some practical tips on how to get started:
Perhaps the hardest thing for anyone starting out is to find where they can actually run. Not everyone has access to a running path or a park, most people don’t, so the first order of business is to find a suitable route. And there is always one. Before you gear up and go for an actual run, go exploring and see what kind of roads you have around you. You can check with Google maps beforehand to see which direction you can go exploring first, check which routes may have more potential.
Most of us tend to use the same road from home to work, from work to supermarket and back home again, that’s all the path we need most of the time, and we may not be aware of potential running routes we can take simply because we never went exploring. There are always routes we can take, perhaps not always scenic or going through woods and fields, but there is always something.
Try to find a road, a path or a trail that is not very busy, look for other runners (other people often have the same idea) and cyclists, look for roads with fewer cars as well. Very often your running path will go from your house and through buildings, then enter some kind of park or terrain, and then back again. Try to avoid choosing a trail you have to drive to first unless it absolutely can’t be avoided.
The extra step you have to make to get to the running trail and then run may be that extra excuse that’ll prevent you from doing it regularly and then also become the reason to give up on the idea altogether. The best path is the one that starts the moment you are out of the door - the step outside is already hard enough to make without complicating it further. The whole point of this is to create positive habits that are easy to follow.
You do need to walk the path at least once to get a feel for it at the time you are planning on running it to make sure you know exactly what to expect, see if it gets busy or if there are any problems and pitfalls.
Try to find a route that has potential. In the beginning you won’t run for very long or very far, but you will eventually want to run a longer distance, at it is always more encouraging when you have something further to run to instead of running in circles.
With an activity like running, when the smallest excuse can ruin the whole thing, it’s very important to put a routine in place, the kind of routine you can repeat almost automatically without thinking about it too much. It helps if you have a gear box set-up with everything you need in it for your run so when the time comes you are not running around, instead of running out there, looking for your running pants. It helps if you add a special shelf or a compartment for your running clothes in your closet. You can keep everything in a box, have your running shoes at the door every morning and your mp3 player, if you use one, always charged at the docking station.
It’s a small thing but when it comes to it, it’ll make a big difference. You don’t want to spend forever preparing for your run, that way you’ll have all the time in the world to find an excuse to not go – even experienced runners fall for it from time to time. Make the process as easy and as quick as possible, so you’ll be running before you know it. As a matter of fact, the best runs are morning runs for that exact reason, if you manage to get yourself out of the house before your brain wakes up and realizes what is going on and comes up with an excuse not to go, you’ll be half way through your route - works every time.
If you don’t feel you need a rest day you don’t have to have one. Running every day is possible, provided you do it in a pattern you can maintain, a hard day should be followed by an easy day, for example. If you are not running for the sake of running but want to see results, lose weight, improve your speed or distance, you should vary your running pattern as much as possible. Running at the same speed the same distance every day will eventually stop giving you any results and you’ll hit a plateau because your body will get used to the same load and optimize itself and work at its minimum effort and resources. If you do hit a plateau, change things up – increase your speed or distance, add sprints into the mix or run uphill.
In this way we finish the first part of this post. Go ahead and Go Outside for a Run! Start now, and we'll be waiting for you next week with even more tips on how to start and keep running.