Running is a love/hate-activity for most people. It takes some willpower to get going, it hurts a bit during the run, but the feel-good payoff afterward makes it worth the effort.
And that’s completely fine. You don’t have to run to be fit and healthy. At the same time, have there ever been instances when you wish you liked it? (I bet you have.)
Whether it’s the social aspect of running with friends, all the amazing fitness benefits running offers or the opportunity to train for a goal or raise money for charity, running certainly does have its perks.
There are 8 simple steps to become a runner — even if you think you don’t like running.
Step 1: See Your Doctor
If you’re completely new to exercise, this safety step is not one to skip. Check your blood pressure, your heart health, iron levels, and ask if any other health conditions could impact your safety while running.
Step 2: Consider Your Nutrition Timing
To actually enjoy the process of running, your body needs to be properly fueled. Running on empty (or over-full) can make your run painful.
Try eating a small snack consisting of mostly carbs about an hour before your first run. For example, half of an apple plus 8 almonds works for many of my clients. You’ll get a little energy boost without getting that “bouncy” feeling in your stomach as you run.
Also drink a little water before you leave. Half a cup should be plenty.
Step 3: Start Small
By far the biggest mistake you can make is taking on too much, too soon. You don’t want to stress yourself on your first running day. In fact, you may want to start with walking at moderate pace for 30 minutes.
On your next day, try walking for 30 minutes again, but this time, do five 1-minute jogs evenly spaced throughout. In other words, slowly build up to running for longer times and distances.
Remember, there is no pressure. Walking on its own is great exercise, so adding even a bit of running is pure bonus!
Step 4: Recover
“What? I only jogged for 5 minutes. I don’t need a day off!”
You might be right, or you might end up getting injured by pushing too quickly. Why not take a day off to rest and to see how your body feels? Running will be there for you tomorrow.
Start by walking/jogging every other day. After two weeks, if you want to add a fourth day per week, go for it. Give your body time to build up to withstanding more frequent runs.
Step 5: Run For Time, Not Distance
Distance can be daunting. Telling yourself,“I have to run 5k today!” places very specific expectations on your body.
What if your legs are tired today?
What if you didn’t sleep well last night?
What if the weather is exceptionally hot or cold?
There are many reasons why a 5k run today might not feel like it did yesterday. Instead, commit to going out for a specific time. This allows you to adjust your pace according to how you feel in the moment. Again, there’s no pressure to perform — your goal is to get moving.
Step 6: Get Proper Running Shoes
Shouldn’t this be the first step?
Nope. The more barriers you create to the idea of running, the less likely you will be to try it. If you say, “I can’t start running because I don’t have the shoes, and I need to get special shorts, and…” then you might give up before you begin.
Remember, your first runs might actually be walks. You don’t need any special equipment to walk.
Once you’re past the two-week mark into your running journey, then it might be time to invest in some proper shoes that will protect your feet, ankles, knees and hips. Think of this as a reward for sticking with it for two weeks — you get to go shoe shopping!
Step 7: Keep a Journal
Again, I want to emphasize that there is no pressure to perform. Logging your run details isn’t so that you can compare week-to-week stats; instead, it’s so that you can see what you’re accomplishing!
Imagine how great it will feel when you can flip back through the pages a couple of months from now to see how committed you’ve been. Even though you might not stick perfectly with your intended schedule, each run that you do complete is one more than you were doing previously. These wins are worth celebrating!
Step 8: Get a Dog (or a Friend)
No, seriously, if you don’t have a dog, you may want to consider getting one to become your running partner. If Scooby is dying to get out for a walk or run, guess who has to go too?
Not a dog person?
You can get a human version running buddy. However, don’t pick just anyone. Accountability buddies are great unless they become enablers. “I don’t feel like running today. Want to go out for lunch instead?” Don’t pick someone who might drag you down.
After all, at this point, you’ve proven that you are serious about building a love for running. So, you deserve to do it with someone who is equally as excited!
Now it’s time to get started. What’s your run going to look like today?