The question that I get asked more than anything is, “How do I start running?”. Once people find out that I run a lot and race frequently, they want to know what the first step is in becoming a “runner”. Of course everyone is different and has a different journey, but most people I talk to want a straightforward, how-to guide on how to start running long distances. This question may seem simple, but it is comprised of many parts, so let me break down the first few steps on how to become a runner.
- Realize that you became a runner the moment you decided to run
You don’t have to run every day to be a “runner”. You don’t have to have run a marathon to be a “runner”. The only thing you need to do to become a “runner” is lace up your sneakers and start moving! It’s as easy and as hard as that. Don’t let anyone tell you that your miles are less important that theirs. A mile is still a mile! And it’s a mile that you completed, and it can never be taken away.
- The first step is the hardest
Getting yourself up and out the door to take that first step is hard. It’s scary and difficult, and you know what, it probably won’t be that much fun either. But at the end of the day, you’ll be so glad you did it. And getting up for that second run will be hard. Not as hard as the first one, but still difficult. And each time you lace up and get ready to get out there, it will be difficult and your brain will think of a million reasons for you to go back to bed, but once you are running, you will be so thankful that you became a runner.
- Consistency is key
Getting out on that first run is hard, but the only way to make sure it keeps getting easier is to keep doing it. You can’t just stop after one run! You have to keep moving. It is said that it takes 21 days to form a habit, so think of it as you need to run consistently for 3 weeks for your body to understand that you are doing this new thing now and it needs to get used to it. Also, “consistently” doesn’t mean every day. It can be every other day. It can be three days a week. Just make sure you keep moving.
- Set a realistic goal
Everyone is different, so everyone’s goals should be different. But you need to have a goal to determine if you are making progress. Your goal can be to run three days a week for a month. Your goal can be to run your first 5k,10k, half or full marathon. Whatever goal you choose, make sure it fits you and is realistic for the amount of time you are willing to put in to reach it. Running is an addicting sport, and once you start to feel strong, you want to feel strong for as long and for as often as possible. Keeping up with your goals and setting new ones can help you to feel strong and confident in your new sport.
- Advance a little at a time
When you first start running, you have to start slow and short. Maybe run/walking is more your speed. If so, that is totally ok! Don’t push yourself so hard at the beginning that you hate it and resent running all together. Once you have figured out a good starting point for you (maybe running one mile), decide how long you want to hit that goal before adding on a little. A good measure is by week. The first week you run a mile each run, the second week you run a mile and a quarter. The third week you add onto that. And just keep going. Adding on a little at a time will get you to your goal without burning you out too quickly or hurting yourself.
- You’ll need a good pair of running shoes
This one is probably the hardest part. When you start running consistently, your Nike Free’s aren’t going to cut it anymore. You need something with support that will protect your shins, hips, and knees. The best way to do this is by going to your local running store where an employee with watch you run and then recommend what type of shoe is best for you. If you don’t have that option, I would recommend Asics, New Balance, Saucony, or Hokas as great training shoes.
- Most importantly, you need to learn about post run snacks
Last, but certainly not least, you need to treat yourself for going the extra mile (literally)! If you get up early on Saturday for a run, go to brunch after. If you pushed it a little farther this week than last, go for that ice cream sandwich. Treat yo’ self. You deserve it.
I hope these tips were helpful to you and were insightful about how you can become a runner too! Good luck with your first run!