By: Brandon Nguyen, Runner and Coach
Let’s talk about how to get started as a beginning runner. There are lots of articles all around the interwebs that will tell you how to begin a running regime. The best ones will prescribe a combination of running and walking to get you started and lay out a plan for how to:
- build up your mileage week by week.
- how to gauge and adjust your speed.
- how to determine your training limits.
- how to avoid injury, etc.
You can find an excellent article on that subject here. So rather than going into depth then, we’ll keep things simple. Here are three things for the beginner to keep in mind:
The “Big Picture” of your running is taking better care of yourself, and being fit. Running each week is an investment in a future healthy body. And just as we talked about in the New Years Resolution post, you will be more successful in that quest if you have a goal or goals to work towards. A goal gives you something to hang your training on. So sign up for a 5k 6 months from now. Or get ambitious and set a speed/distance goal. Get really ambitious and sign up for a triathlon (we’ll talk more about that in another post). Whatever goal you decide to work towards, be realistic and honest with yourself. Assess the amount of time you will be able to devote to your running, along with your fitness level, and make your plans accordingly. Then…
Take It Slow
If you’re just starting out, remember that the first thing you are looking build is consistency. Not speed, not mileage. Those will come with time. You are forming a habit that you will do regularly, and build upon little by little. If you have never run before, or if you just haven’t run in a long time, your muscles and your joints will need time to recover and grow stronger and tougher. This will happen, but it won’t happen right away. Many, many runners (even some very successful ones) get started by walking, then progressing to alternating walking and running, and then to running. If this is you, you’re not alone, not by a long shot. So take it slow.
Keep it fun
You’re taking yourself seriously as a runner by following program with a goal or set of goals. One of life’s little paradoxes is that one of the ways to honor your serious commitment is to have fun with it. You can do this in any number of ways:
- New clothes! New shoes! New songs! You will need to replace your shoes every 600 miles or every 6 months (whichever comes first) with a typical running program. There’s a great variety of clothing to meet your weather and style needs. And really, it’s always worthwhile to circulate the playlist on the iPod.
- Join a running group. With like-minded people around you for a run, you’ll break up the training week, make friends, and give yourself something different to look forward to.
- Find a trail to run on. In the real, genuine woods if possible. Running on dirt and grass instead of asphalt and concrete will give you a new perspective on your running form, and besides, when was the last time you got out to the countryside? That’s right, too long! So get out there.
- Run Naked. Leave the headphones, the Garmin, the heart-rate monitor, etc. at home and just head out. Caution: don’t run literally naked unless you are feeling especially confident in your relationship with your neighbors.
Really, the list is endless. But in the end, running is one of the most wonderfully simple, healthy activities you can do. And every single able-bodied person is a runner. Some of us run slow, others fast. Some of us have beautiful form, others not so much. But all of us are born to run.