Hello again! You know how it goes – comprehensive exams, senior thesis, jobs and life get in the way, and all of a sudden a month has gone by in the blink of an eye. However, after an unofficial 1-month (and much-needed!) break, we’re back and ready to hit the ground running (pun intended). It’s been a nice, cleansing rest, but now we’re poised to get back on the attack. Today, E is giving the lowdown on how to start running and how you can follow in her footsteps (again with the puns??). -A
Let’s talk about running.
Most people feel pretty strongly about running. If you absolutely hate running, or if you feel that you can’t run due to pain, I have a sneaking suspicion you might be doing it wrong. …
But E, you might be asking, how is there a wrong way to run? Humans begin to run as soon as they feel comfortable walking as toddlers. Let me tell you… running is more work than you think!
I’ve been running in the early mornings and on weekends to train for my half-marathon at the end of March. Usually, it’s ok… but many mornings, I just want to hit the snooze button and enjoy another 90 minutes of slumber. I can tell you after a few years of this, I still don’t love it. I love the way I feel after, and, occasionally, I love the way I feel while running. I still hate putting on my shoes to go out, and I still hate feeling my body start to stress until I can find a good pace. However, I keep going. The benefits of running are overwhelmingly positive compared to the mild discomfort I feel.
I firmly believe that anyone can enjoy running. If you hate running, or are considering starting up a routine, here are some my tips for helping the process and learning how to start running:
HOW TO START RUNNING WELL
- Check your shoes. When was the last time you changed your running shoes? If the answer is +400 miles or more than 18 months, it is time to switch out those shoes! Did you by them because the were on sale? Also, probably an indicator that they may not be right for your feet. My number one suggestion for people who want to start running is to go to a specialty running store. The people who work at a quality store know how to deal with runners and non-runners alike. You can bring them your top complaints, and they will find you the right shoe. Look for a store that has a treadmill, or that offers to fit you for a shoe based on your stride. The specialists will observe your stride and help you find a shoe that will make your run feel 1,000 times better. Also, your gym shoes are not always multi-purpose. Your running shoes are to help you RUN, not to get you to the gym and back, and certainly not to increase your street style. Find the shoe that works best for your needs, not the ones that are the prettiest or the cheapest option. I run in the Nike Fly Freeknit, and love them!
- Check your form. Be aware of where your feet land. When you run, you should strike with the MID section of your foot… not your heel, and not your toes. Are you leaning outward or curving inward? There are shoes for that. Do your feet ache or is there pain in your heel? Again, there are shoes for that. When you’re running, you should keep yourself upright and tight through your core. DON’T let your arms swing side to side… that’s wasted energy and it throws off your form. Keep your hands moving directly forward. Pick up your thighs and pull from your calves… keeping your feet light and your ankles relaxed. Combined, you should be leaned slightly forward, not straight up-and-down. I know this all sounds confusing , but here’s a great video that will help show what I’m talking about. Seriously… good form changes everything!
- Check your surroundings. Are you gearing up for a nice, short jog on a treadmill? If you have the time and don’t risk freezing/getting drenched/overheating , get yourself outside! Fresh air and the freedom to go wherever your feet take you… that’s why people get hooked on running. One of the biggest mistakes when running is relying solely on a treadmill for your runs. Treadmills are soft and cushy, and they allow you to set a pace manually. While this can be great for some training, it can really screw you up. The repetition of foot-on-pavement allows your muscles and bones to adjust to the stress of a hard surface. Without this adjustment, you risk getting injured. Also, running outside allows you to set your own pace. You can slow when needed and speed up if you’re feeling good… without relying on a tread to carry you.
- Check your breathing. Are you breathing? Of course you are. But are you listening to your breath? If you’re huffing and puffing and can’t catch your breath, SLOW DOWN. Start slow with your runs, then pick up the pace when you feel more comfortable. Have a side cramp? Stop and stretch, and be sure you’re eating your bananas (for potassium!) Try to focus on keeping your breath comfortable, pulling through your nose and out your mouth. If this feels too labored, try taking deeper breaths and slow your pace.
- Grab a friend. If it weren’t for my two running buddies (including the boyfriend for my upcoming 1/2… it’s his first!) I NEVER would have gotten this far. Having a friend to text you at 5:20 asking if you’re awake and ready to go is way better than an alarm clock. Part of having a good running pace is keeping yourself consistent. Running with a friend helps pace tremendously! Talking keeps me at a comfortable pace, and having someone next to me keeps me from speeding up/slowing down without noticing. My buddies and I also sign up for races together, which helps me stay in shape year-round. Running by myself means that skipping a morning or two during the week doesn’t matter. Running with a friend means that if I want to bail, I either need to deal with the guilt of abandoning my friend in the early morning, or getting my butt out of bed!
- Sign up for a race 5K? 10K? 13.1? Races, for me, are just for fun. People get super competitive about races, but I believe that they should just be for YOU. I tend to compete with my previous race times, pushing myself to get better and better. Races are a great idea because they keep you accountable… and they give you a reason to keep pushing. Races benchmark your progress and give you bragging rights amongst other fitness-y people. Races force you to commit and train! It feels terrible to pay $200 for a race that you didn’t do. On the flip side, few things are better than finishing a race… you can eat/drink/do whatever you want! You ran a race!
- Don’t expect it to be super easy. Seriously. Running is hard work! You’re asking your body to move, quickly, for an extended period of time. It can feel tedious, achy, and overall sucky for the first bit. It will feel that way pretty much forever. If you can make yourself go a little further, push a little harder, slowly that feeling will get shorter and shorter. Take walk breaks, slow down, but for goodness stakes, don’t give up! Commit to two weeks, and see how much better you feel after pushing yourself. My hurdle tends to be at 3 miles. Before 3 miles, everything sucks. It’s hard, I’m tired, and I want to turn around and crawl back into bed. Once I hit 3 miles, I start to relax. My muscle find a rhythm, and my breath becomes lighter. The process gets easier, but I always have a hurdle I need to pass before I start enjoying the run.
So, with that, I hope you get out there and give running a try. It’s free, and you can do it almost anywhere. I promise, once you get past your hurdles, you’ll definitely enjoy it :) Runners out there – how did you learn how to run?