I really started getting into running in 2009 when I started my journey towards a healthier me. As I have explained in the past, running was originally a plan to lose weight. It turned from this activity that created a large caloric deficit, into something deeper than that. Running became something that really centred me, it has meditative qualities for me. It has carried me through times of struggle and times of celebration. My relationship with my body, in turn, became stronger. I began to love my body for how it could preform. I also learned to love my body for what it was, rather than picking it apart at any glance in the mirror. I have fallen in love, out of love and back in love with running over and over again. Even during the times that I felt like I was not enjoying it, I found aspects that I still truly enjoyed. But even yet, I still get the constant “HOW can you like running? I absolutely hate it. I wish I could enjoy it” response from time to time. So this inspired me to share with you some points and tools to remember when you start running:
Know you may not love running right off the bat….or at all…
When you first start a new form of exercise, it will be a struggle. For many, being sweaty, out of breath and feeling challenged does not ring “fun.” But as you feel better with your pacing, try new routes, new terrains, new races and running buddies, running may turn into something great. But also know, not everyone will love running. That is okay. We all have our own personal preferences, so of course we won’t ALL love running. But you may end up loving it after some time trying it out!
You do not need a specific plan when you first start.
When I began, I didn’t start with a program like Couch 2 5 km. (Though, c25k really is a great way to start things if you like more structure.) What did I do? I just got out there and remembered that if I had to walk, that was okay. I was still moving. So I would go out for 20 minutes and keep in mind that my main goal was just to move. Also, I would remember to check in with my body, so not to push it TOO far. I would run for as long as I felt I could, then take a power walk break. Then once I felt ready to run again, I would! Each time I would try and challenge myself and would do my best not to back down from challenges like a steep hill. Which brings me to my next point.
Do not fear hills.
Where I live, hills are unavoidable. How will you ever improve if you do not challenge yourself? When I started, I would do my best to make goals while climbing a hill. For instance, I would tell myself that I would run up the hill until that lamppost (tree, fire hydrant etc), and often times once I got there I felt I could keep pushing to the next marker. Before I knew it, I had crested the hill. Again, some days are stronger than others. But as long as you do what you can that day, that is all you can ask of your body. Remember, though, we are a lot stronger than we think we are!
Don’t worry about apps, and other electronic gadgets.
I run with a Garmin Forerunner 310XT now, but honestly..you do not need electronics when you run. I know plenty of people that rather not run with things like this. I used to run just with a watch so I knew how long I was out there for. But you do not need expensive pieces of equipment to train. Just a pair of shoes (unless you are a barefoot runner that is…you go Glen Coco!).
However, if you want to know distance..
Maybe you are curious about how far you did go while you were out there. The main website I use (and there is an app if you so choose to use it) to map my run. It is named exactly that. Map my run.
Don’t get hooked on numbers…
It doesn’t matter how far or fast you go when you first start. Sure, these can be good goals to constantly improve on. But do not let these number make you feel defeated. You are still out there and moving!
Don’t worry about technical running gear.
I would run in sweats and a baggy T shirt when I started. Really, it is okay if you don’t have running tights and technical t shirts. Same goes to fuel belt, fuel bottles or hydropacks. Honestly, these are NOT 100% necessary. If you live in a hotter area and feel the need to have water on you at all times, sure. But no need to complicate things and buy $500 worth of things from your local running store before you first start running. Ease into it. Use what you have in your closet!
But remember..Safety first!
You may want to buy some running shoes. Shoes are the only piece of equipment we use as runners that is absolutely key. They are also the piece of equipment that can be the cause of back, hip, knee or (insert body part of choice) pain. Running shoes are designed for..you got it! RUNNING. Where as cross training shoes are designed for places like the gym where you may be moving omnidirectional. Running, we typically run forward. Not laterally. So running shoes are designed as such. Also, running shoes can be “too old” to run in. So my best piece of advice is to go to your local running store. They can fit your foot to the proper shoe you need since we all have different foot types and may need more or less stability.
You may also want to have some reflective tape, bands or a vest if you are early morning or evening runner.
But above all this.. the most important thing?
Don’t over complicate it. Stop over thinking it. You will learn along the way. Listen to your body, don’t over do it (too much too soon is a recipe for overuse injuries). Just get out there and do what you can that day. Some days will be better than others. Some runs will be a huge struggle. But you are moving, you are doing what you can do that day! With time, you will feel more in touch with your body and its needs. Do your best to listen to what it wants.
Don’t worry about how you look or what others could think. Because more often than not, the people who will drive, run or bike past you are not thinking about YOU. They are thinking about themselves or whatever else is on their mind. Focus on how your body feels, breathe and put one foot in front of the other.
Just get out there. Move.