I remember my first run vividly.
It was my senior year of high school and two of my friends and I had gone to the local gym to workout. My friends were soccer players and track stars- they had the athleticism and the stamina to get on the treadmill and run AND talk at the same time.
Me? Not so much. My background in cheerleading didn’t help me at all with running. Sure, I could do a great straddle jump, but run AND talk? Fugghetaboutit.
I left feeling defeated, embarrassed, and confused. What had just happened? Why did that hurt so much? How was it so easy for them and was a big suckfest for me? Maybe I just wasn’t made to be a runner?
And, for years, I convinced myself I wasn’t. I shied away from running, instead spending hours on the elliptical or stairmill, until one day, I stepped on the treadmill and tried it again. And, this time, away from having the pressure of two friends running, I found that I actually kind of liked it. And, the rest was history.
As a running coach, I work with a lot of runners who are just starting out. All of them have different goals, but what they ALL have in common is this: they don’t “like” running. They want to like it. They want the benefits of running. But, it’s hard to start doing something that isn’t enjoyable. Here are my tips for them:
1) Start slower than you think you need to.
When we start running, a lot of changes need to happen in our bodies to make running feel “easier.” Muscles, bones, and tendons need to strengthen, your cardiovascular system needs to become more efficient (ability for your lungs and heart to get fresh oxygen to your muscles), and you need to develop “muscle memory” for your body to feel natural with the running motion. A LOT of invisible processes need to happen before running feels good! But, you don’t have to be miserable while your body is making these changes! One of the best ways to start running is to use the run/walk method. There are many ways you can go about this, but my favorite for very beginning runners is to run 1 minute, walk 2 minutes and repeat that sequence 10x. As time goes on, you can increase your running intervals and decrease your walking until you are running the whole way! Running shouldn’t be miserable!!
2) Have a goal and accountability.
Your motivation for running will run out long before it becomes “easy.” Having a goal (especially one you pay for) will keep you in the game and training. Sign up for a 5k with a friend so you can’t back out. Join a running club or online running group so that you can have accountability and learn more about the sport. Schedule your runs for the week and treat them like meetings you have at work. Trust me on this one- accountability and incentives are key!
**I run online running groups and offer run coaching. If you want to work with me or are interested in the services I offer, send me an email at email@example.com
3) Don’t get caught up in the comparison trap.
This one is key for every runner. Running is an individual sport and is not about running as fast or as far as the person next to you. What it IS about is the gift you get for taking care of yourself, for doing something that is good for your body, for being grateful that your body is capable and able to run, and for showing yourself that you are capable. It’s about showing up when you don’t want to. It’s about the fact that you are pushing yourself outside your comfort zone and doing something that’s hard. It’s about all the things that running will do for you that will translate into what you do in LIFE. It’s easy to get caught up in what others around us are doing and let that take away from the pride we feel in what we accomplished! Surround yourself with other runners who will remind you that any run is a good one!
Who are my new runners out there? What stops you from starting?