New to the sport of running? You may think all you need to start is a good pair of running shoes and the will to want to move. That is true, to some extent. But if you’re serious about becoming a runner, here are 5 things to keep in mind to keep you moving forward. These tips will hopefully help to keep you motivated and injury-free.
Start from where you are. It’s important to take into account your current fitness level and any other factors that may impact how often, how far or how fast you run. The key is to build slowly from your starting point so you don’t get injured by doing too much too soon. Aside from risking potential injury, you may burn out too quickly if you try to do more than you’re ready to handle. Build mileage and speed gradually. Find ways to fit running into your routine so the activity doesn’t start feeling like a chore.
Focus on comfort. Running creates friction and sweat, and if you’re not wearing the right clothing, you may find that your discomfort takes the joy out of the sport. Invest in running apparel that wicks moisture away and avoid anything with rough seams. If you notice areas prone to chafing, use runner’s lube or Vaseline to reduce friction. It’s also important to make sure your running shoes are comfortable and provide enough support and stability for your running stride.
Don’t forget to cross-train. You may be so excited to start running that you want to head out with the same daily goal – to run as far as your body can go. But don’t. Your body needs a rest from this new high-intensity activity so sprinkle in some days of cross-training or rest. You can swim, cycle, lift weights or take a class at the gym on days you don’t run. You can also just take it easy on the couch or go for a leisurely walk.
Listen to your body. Don’t assume everyone can become a runner at the same pace. When performing any type of new physical activity, let your body be your guide. Some people take longer than others to learn a new activity to increase speed or add on distance. Sore muscles are common when you run, even if you’re a beginner. If the soreness diminishes as your muscles warm up, you can keep going. If the pain increases, it’s a signal that you need to take a break. If you push harder than your body is ready for, you may find yourself dealing with fatigue, poor performance or injury.
Don’t give up. If you’ve never run before, it may take a while before you feel comfortable running for more than a few minutes at a time or completing a full mile or more. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it even if it takes longer than you expect. Trust the process. If you follow a reasonable plan, you’ll be running more than you ever thought possible before you know it. Remember the expression “slow but steady wins the race.” Keep focused on what you need to do step by step to become a runner and you will get there in your own appropriate time frame.