Recently Kris at gorunagain.com invited several bloggers, yours truly included, to give him some tips for runners just starting out. His post has eight tips ranging from using a goal race as motivation, to planning for pit stops, and even (gasp!) running without music. It’s a good list that goes beyond the usual “see your doctor, buy the right shoes, don’t run too fast” rote of the typical list.
Kris used two of the tips I came up with and it seemed a shame to waste the others, so I’ve put the rest of my list below. They all come from my own experience as a beginning runner, but I still apply them today.
#1 – Just Run
Doesn’t matter for how long or how far you go. What matters is that you put on the shoes, step outside, and get going. There are always excuses why you can’t run today. Overcome that inertia, and the rest will take care of itself.
I didn’t run at all until just a few years ago, and then just to supplement my other activities. A run of 2-3 miles was a significant accomplishment. Today I run 20-30 miles per week, take part in 20 races per year, and am training for my second ultramarathon. I never expected this to happen; running just sort of grew on me. But it started like everyone else – one mile at a time.
#2 – Don’t Expect Instant Results
It takes time to build the physical and mental stamina needed for longer runs. Pushing too hard will get you hurt, and some people give up running when that happens. Not happy with your results? That’s okay, it’s all about improvement. Next time will be better.
#3 – Form Is Everything
Once you start running more than 2-3 miles at a time, or more than twice per week, proper running form is essential to preventing injury. Good form also feels better and helps you run farther. Work on correct footstrike, posture, and stride. Consider taking a basic class on running; the one took in 2010 covered form, shoe selection, running gear, and nutrition. And it got me into the habit of running regularly.
#4 – Enjoy Each Run For What It Is
Whether it’s a race, training for an event, stress relief, socializing, or just for some fresh air and exercise, you’re out there for a reason. Breathe deeply and live in the moment.
Footnote: A colleague of mine, who was an active runner years ago, has recently started again and ran 5K yesterday. He was pretty unhappy about his time and didn’t want to hear that “just running” was a win. (It’s true, but he didn’t want to hear it.) “Okay, so your first time out sucked,” I told him. “Next time will be better.”
“Now that’s something I can take away,” he said, smiling.