So you want to start running? Good for you! Running is a great way to exercise and stay healthy.
If you haven’t been exercising regularly, you might want to think about a few things before you lace up your shoes. Of course, I am obliged to tell you to get a physical exam before you embark on a new exercise program.
Beyond that, here are a few tips:
1. Get some new shoes. You might have those 1989 high top tennis shoes in your closet that you think are perfectly adequate, but trust me—they’re not. And do not even think about buying yourself running shoes at Wal-mart. Shoes will be the most important investment you make in your new hobbie, so invest smartly. I recommend going to a running store that specializes in fitting your feet with appropriate shoes (depending on your arches, pronation style, etc.). I ran for about 5 years before I did this. And, when I finally was fit for shoes, I learned that I had been wearing shoes about a size too small. This is why I had bloody blisters on my toes! I had figured all runners had those!
2. Start slow. I mean, very slow. One of the more common mistakes I see new runners make is simply running too fast. I had a friend a few years back who started running and couldn’t figure out how I could easily run 7-8 miles. He said he couldn’t even make it half a mile. I went running with him, and it was easy to diagnose the problem. I could barely keep up with him for that half mile. He was starting out running 7 minute miles! I would say an appropriate pace for most new runners is about 11-12 minute miles. You will make more progress running three 12 minute miles than half a 7 minute mile, so slow down!
3. Walk. Many new runners refuse to walk because it seems like cheating. Walking is actually a great strategy for new runners. Try running for 5 minutes and then walking for 1 minute. Do this 5-6 times. This is a great way to build up your stamina. As you progress, run more and walk less. You’ll improve faster if you walk when you get tired and begin running again in a minute than if you just quit because you can’t continue. Just keep moving!
4. Don’t compare yourself. You will always know people who can run faster and farther than you can. So what? Get over it. You have to realize that you are running at your own pace and for your own reasons. You may or may not participate in races. If you do participate, you may or may not be competitive. But, it doesn’t matter; you’re still a runner. Don’t be afraid to see yourself this way. For years, I’ve said stuff like, “Oh, I’m not a REAL runner, I run 10 minute miles.” I finally gave that up. I am a REAL runner, as much as someone who runs 6 minute miles. We both get out there and run because it’s important to us.
Finally, just get out there and run. If you have problems with injuries or training dilemmas, get on the internet and do some research to see how to work through these issues. But you can worry about all that later. For now, the most important thing is just to run.