If your new year's resolution was to start running you have come to right place. So many times when I tell people what I do, they say to me, "I wish I could run" and I am here to tell that you can.
While your first lap around the block gasping for air might try to convince you otherwise, I am sure if you put in the work required that you can be a successful runner too.
Most people can start running and even (gasp!) learn to enjoy it. I may be a little biased but I think running is the perfect cardiovascular activity for most healthy individuals.
So you think you can run? You can. Just follow a few simple principles and you'll be on your way to healthy, strong, injury-free running journey.
1. BUY QUALITY RUNNING-SPECIFIC SHOES
This is probably the most important thing you need to do before you start running. Yes, they can be expensive, but it is one of the only big investments into running. This is not the place to cut corners. Go to a speciality store to get help from a knowledgeable store associate if you are not sure what kind of shoes to buy. (Spoiler alert: don't buy them for color.) There are tons of running-related products you could (and will probably want to) buy, but nothing is as essential as a good pair of running-specific shoes.
2. SET GOALS
Now that you have your shoes it is time to set goals. What do you want to do? Run a 5K? Run a mile without stopping? Run a half marathon? Run a 10 minute mile? You have to know where you want to go in order to make the plans to get there. Having a goal is the first step in staying motivated. When you are working towards a specific goal you have a reason to get everyday and put in the work.
3. BE REALISTIC
One of the biggest mistakes new runners make is that they do too much too soon. It all sounds great in the beginning when you are new and enthusiastic, but if you bite off more than you can chew you'll only increase the chances that you will quit due to overtraining or worse, injury. Slow and steady is the best, safest way to get started. If you think of running as a long-term commitment, you have the rest of your life to get better. Start off with low and slow milage and build slowly over time. Trust me on this one.
4. BE CONSISTENT
In order to be a better runner you have to run on a regular basis. It will probably be hard at first and you may even want to quit after a few tough runs, but I can promise with consistent running, it will get better. Even if it is just one mile at a time, lacing up those shoes and hitting the pavement on a regular basis is the key to success (just don't forget about #3).
5. STRENGTH TRAIN
I know you said you wanted to be a runner, not a bodybuilder but adding in regular strength training into your workout schedule will improve your running and reduce your risk of injury. You don't have to spend all day in the gym or grow giant muscles, spending 20-30 minutes 2 or 3 times a week on runner-specific strength moves will do the trick. While running is a fantastic exercise for losing weight and staying heart healthy, we want to build ourselves into well-rounded athletes. Strength training will make you a better, faster, stronger runner. You can find some some workouts to try in the archives.
6. GET SUPPORT
You can usually find support with your family, friends or local community. Join a running group, recruit a friend, hire a coach, start a blog, get a four-legged running partner or find like-minded people online (social media is full of supportive running communities). I'm here to cheer you on. If you tell people your goals and have a support system in place you'll be more likely to stick with your new running program.
7. START RUNNING
The only thing left to do is lace up your shoes and hit the pavement. My favorite running quote is this one from John Bingham. You think you can run? You can. Just do it.
Are you inspired to give it a try? With a little patience and consistency I know you can do it. Let me know if you have any questions.
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I am a NASM personal trainer and RRCA adult distance running coach that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training in the Shredshed, online training and Fit to Run bootcamps. If you are interested in a more in-depth running or strength training plan, please contact me. Have questions? I'd love to help.
While I am a certified personal trainer, I am not your personal trainer. Since I don't know your exercise abilities, injury background or medical history, please see your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. This is an opinion blog. No information in this blog is intended to be taken as medical advice or prescription. Please see your doctor and/or registered dietitian for any health concerns