Friday, 12 June 2015

5 Running Tips for the Newbie Runner

A lot of people have been emailing lately to ask how to start running. And now that the weather is finally nice, people are ready to get out there and enjoy it!

Most people assume that because I run now, that must mean I have always run. But that is definitely not the case.

In fact as a kid, I really hated running. I dreaded cross country and track and field. I was always one of the slowest ones out there. Running was not fun - it was hard and kind of boring.

I always admired runners. It was always something secretly wished I could do. But it wasn't something I thought I was built for.

But a few months after starting my journey towards a healthy lifestyle - I found myself embracing the run.

That summer I stayed at school to take a summer course and to work. I bought a bike to get around, and stuck to my new vegetarian diet. I started going to the gym 4-5x a week. 

Most of the machines scared me, and I didn't really know what I was doing. So I spent my time on the elliptical. I worked my way up from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, but adding 5 extra minutes to my sessions each week. And slowly weight started to come off.

But one fateful Holiday Monday I found myself with a day off and no access to my trusty elliptical. 
The gym was closed! 

I didn't want to skip my workout, especially when I just started to build momentum. So I begrudgingly laced up my sneakers - after procrastinating for several hours - and then hit the streets. I did a short loop downtown, and didn't totally hate it. 

When describing my run later that night over drinks with some friends, one of the girls (re: a real runner) informed me that I had actually conquered a fairly good distance, likely 4 km! What? Me?! 

I was hooked, and started regularly running a 10km loop she helped me map out. I couldn't run the whole distance at first, walks breaks were required. But every week I ran I a little more. And then a little more. And eventually I could run the whole thing.

The rest is history. 
I have been running ever since.

So if running is something you are interested in, but aren't quite sure where to start, I have my top 5 tips for any new runner.

1. If you want to start running... Just start running! 

Okay so that sounds silly right? But it's true. In a lot of ways there is no big secret. If you want to run - run and stick with it. It might not be easy to start. And you might not go very fast. But all that comes with practice and logging time with those sneakers. 

There is a lot of research that shows it is possible to train for any race and any distance by committing to running 3x/week. Commit to run 3 days a week and you will see progress in no time!

2. Break it up 

Don't go out and try to run 5km straight right off the bat. Pick a manageable distance - that could be anything from 1 mile to 5 km - and head out. Remember breaks are allowed! 

I started by mapping out 10km and running as far as I could, and then taking a walk break, running as far as I could, and then taking another walk break. I used landmarks to keep track of my progress. Last week I made to the stoplight before I needed a break. This week I made it to playground. And so on, until I could eventually run the whole loop continuously.

A lot of other programs recommend  more formal break strategies like 5:1 or 10:1 (aka 5 min running 1 min walking or 10 min running and 1 min walking) And I think it all works! It just depends which one you are most comfortable with.

3. Make a Goal/Sign Up for a Race 

A goal without a deadline is just a dream - so set a deadline and make it happen. Signing up for a run/race is the easiest way to ensure you stick to a program. 

If your goal is to run your first 5k - find a local run approx 8-10 weeks away and sign up. You know you have to get out there and train for it. It helps give those training runs a focus and an event to look forward to.

4. Tell Everyone You Know What You Are Up To!

You are signed up, you are training, so now just tell everyone you know what you are up to. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Post it on Facebook. Let everyone know what you are planning and how your training is going. 

It will help you stay accountable and they can also be there to support you along the way. 

5. Remember to Respect Your Progress and Thank Yourself for all Your Hard Work 

Keep a log. Post your progress on your fridge and be proud of each step you take! 

Sometimes progress can feel slow and a bit discouraging, but every time you head out the door and doing a training run you are doing something amazing for yourself and for your body. Remember to be proud of each milestone and thank yourself for making your health a priority. 

You can do it! 
Happy Running! 
Love your Favorite Darwinian Fail