Anyone can be a runner; that is part of its appeal. But how do you actually become a runner? Do you put on your running shoes and get up and go? How far or how long do you run for? Is walking or taking a break ok? Today we will take a look at all of these questions along with everything else you need to get started on a running program.
So…where do you start? It may seem overwhelming, but having a game plan will make it easier to dive into. With a little guidance from myself, I hope it will inspire you to take the leap and RUN!
Here are some tips to get started along with 5-K running program for beginners and intermediate runners.
FIRST STEP - GET A CHECK-UP
If you are new to the fitness wagon or getting back on it, I recommend scheduling a health exam with your doctor to rule out any potential health issues. This could prevent future injuries and/or rule out any medical problems to help you start your new fitness journey with confidence.
PUT YOUR MIND TO IT
My running coach growing up always ingrained in us that running is 70% mental and 30% physical. Believe it! The main roadblock in a fitness plan is your own mental hurdles. Establish your why and set a goal. Understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing is crucial to your success. Your fitness program will be challenging at times, so make sure to go into each day being able to believe in yourself and push past any mental roadblocks that are in your way. Set a goal. Whether it is to be able to run for 30 minutes continuously, or running a 5-K race without walking, make sure to choose a realistic goal that will keep you motivated but yet won’t discourage you.
Having a goal keeps you motivated and gives your workout a purpose. Look up your local fun runs and sign up! This will keep you accountable and can also add the element of fun and excitement to your workout plan.
TOO MUCH TOO SOON
There is such a thing as too much too soon. Starting something new can be exciting and can sometimes lead to jumping the gun. Developing a base is key to any sort of fitness. Start where you are at and not where you want to be. Overtraining leads to injuries, so be mindful of this. Establish patience, progression will come with time. Don’t learn the hard way, I am a prime example of doing too much too soon in the past. I saw where I wanted to be and wanted to get there the shortest route possible. This has led to MANY injuries that could have been prevented. Make sure to schedule rest into your workout plan. Rest is equally as important as the training.
Yes, running requires equipment. Lucky for you, it’s simple. The most important piece of gear in the running world is shoes. Do not skimp on this section. Cross-trainers, tennis shoes, and other athletic footwear do not have enough cushioning to handle running’s impact and neither does an old pair of running shoes that have been sitting in your closet the past few years. BUY NEW ONES! Having the proper shoe will help to keep you injury-free. Not sure where to start? Everyone’ stride is specific to them and there is no such thing as the “best shoe” when it comes to running. Make a trip to your local specialty running store where you can be fitted for the proper shoe to fit your running form and needs.
HOW TO START
Starting or returning to a sport is going to be a bit uncomfortable in the beginning. You lose your fitness faster than you gain it. Here are a few tips on how to ease the process:
GO FOR TIME OVER DISTANCE – There is something to say about bragging how many total miles you put in for the week. This is great, but can sometimes lead to a mental block in upping your mileage or even getting through your current mileage you have set to run. When you are first getting into running or back into running, run for time and not for distance. Running for time doesn’t put pressure on holding a pace and allows you to run on how your body feels. Adding minutes to your run eases the process versus adding miles on.
STAY CONSISTENT – Run at least three days a week to allow your body to adjust to the physical activity. If you don’t make this a consistent routine in your life, the more likely you are to quit. The beginning is the hardest part to push through. It’s new, it’s exhausting, but being consistent is key. Run a minimum of three days a week for three weeks and you will hit a turning point in your fitness journey. By this time, your metabolism is kicking in, you’re body has adjusted to the physical fitness and you are starting to get more energy, and hopefully by adding some fitness into your routine will inspire you to eat a little healthier as well. This is a great time to evaluate the goal you established and see where you are at and possibly add in a new goal. If you feel you may have trouble sticking with your routine or that you might give up a week into it, seek a running buddy to keep you accountable. Look up local running groups to join as a way of motivation and to keep the running process fun and exciting.
BUILD ENDURANCE FIRST, THEN ADD SPEED – Here I will touch back to the “too much too soon” theory. Yes, we all want to increase our speed when it comes to running, but doing so before you have your fitness base and endurance built up can lead to injury. Running fast puts a lot of strain on your muscles, connective tissues, and cardiovascular system. Before we increase our speed and add sprints to our routine, make sure you reach a point where you can run for 30 minutes consistently without stopping. You need to have the mindset of going longer to get stronger.
AGREE TO TAKE THE GOOD AND BAD – Some days we have it, some days we don’t. This is a part of life. Acknowledging that every run may not be a good run will take the pressure and frustration away. There will be days when your run just does not feel great, and there is no way of getting around this. On these days, accept this and go with what your body is feeling. You may have to slow down your pace, take a few more breaks than normal, or even shorten your run. Shake it off and don’t let it hinder you.
MAKE TIME – Plan your week to fit in your workouts. If you are short on time, think quality over quantity. Your biggest mistake is making excuses. Make it happen instead.