Monday, October 8, 2012

5 Tips for New Runners

Earlier this year, once I was cleared for exercise after the birth of my third child, I started running for the first time. To my surprise I actually enjoyed it, once I got past the first few weeks of feeling like I was going to die. It felt good to get my blood pumping and endorphins flowing. Since then, I have run in a couple of 5K races and hope to run a half marathon next spring.

Me at my first 5K
While I am certainly no expert on running, I can't seem to do anything without researching it to death online, and running was no exception. So I learned quite a few good tips on starting out as a runner, and I would like to share those with you today.

5 Tips for New Runners:

1) Start Slow. The biggest problem that new runners have is pushing their bodies to run faster and further than they are ready for. If you are not in very good shape, start with a couch to 5K program. Remember that running can be hard on your body. If you are like I was and have never run before, you need to give your body time to adjust and strengthen itself for the particular pounding that running inflicts. If you push yourself too much, you will wind up injured.

A good rule of thumb is to only increase your distance run each week by 10%. Start out with 3 days a week of a half hour of walking/slow jogging. This will be about 6 miles total per week, give or take. Then gradually increase in increments of 10% each week, taking a cut-back week whenever your body starts to feel a little tired or run-down.

2) Get some good shoes. One of the great things about running is that you really only need one thing to get started: a good pair of running shoes. The best place to get these would be at a local running store where they can analyze your gait, but if you decide to get a pair of running shoes at the nearest sporting good chain, that's fine too for starting out! Just don't grab your 10 year old sneakers out from the back of your closet and expect your feet to be happy.

3) Stay Motivated. Running is hard work, but the rewards of a stronger body plus the lifted spirits that the endorphins bring after a hard workout is worth it! The first few weeks will most likely be agonizing, but as your body adjusts, it will get easier. I remember when I first started running outside, I would have to alternate walking and running up the final mile long hill to my house at the end of each run. It seemed impossible to make it up that hill running, but just a few weeks later as I RAN (okay, slowly jogged, but still) up the hill, tears filled my eyes. I could see how much I had improved through just a few short weeks of consistent work, and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Keeping a log is a great way to help you keep track of your progress, there are free programs online such as that are very helpful.

There is all kinds of great motivation to be found online. Join a facebook group focused on fitness, or check out some running blogs. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Hanna at Bouffe e Bambini. This post is what inspired me to start running in the first place: I Have A Dream

Erin at See Mom Run Far: This mom of 12 kids (yes, 12!) is a marathon runner and training towards her goal of qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials! If she can do it, we all can!

4) Be Safe. If you're running outside, be cautious. Stay aware of your surroundings, don't assume that drivers see you, and wear reflective clothing if running in the early morning or evening. If you are listening to music, be sure that it isn't turned up so loud that you can't hear noises around you (perhaps run with only one earbud in). Female runners have become victims of assault, so try to vary your route and avoid remote areas. Don't be paranoid, but be smart!

5) Have Fun! If you're running on the treadmill, take the opportunity to catch up on your favorite shows. I use the time to watch recorded webinars on essential oils, so that I can gain knowledge to help others in my business while getting in shape. I feel like the ultimate multi-tasker when I do that!

Running outside is infinitely more fun that running on the treadmill however. If you are able to head outdoors, I highly recommend it. Take the time to be thankful for the beauty in nature, the fresh air, and the opportunity that you have to use your body in such an amazing way. When I was first starting out I would remind myself, "I get to do this, I don't have to do this, I get to do this!"

I hope these tips were helpful. Now go run and remember:

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