The New Year is just around the corner and this is a time when many people reflect on the past year and set new goals. Fitness is often a part of these resolutions and for many people, picking up running might be a great start.
I know that running doesn’t always seem fun and unfortunately in your younger years it may have been used as a form of punishment. But the good news is that running doesn’t have to be miserable and it can be done on your own terms.
A run is a run. There is no rule that determines what makes for a run. It can be as short or as long as you want and it can also be as fast or as slow as you desire. Just put your shoes on and get out the door.
Try the run/walk method. If you are new to running or are coming back after a hiatus, you might find the run/walk method to be an easier way to get started. If you need to be held accountable, pick land marks or allot minutes for you to walk and then run. If you don’t want structure to the run, you can simply just jog as you feel and take walk breaks when you need them. This is a great way to build up your endurance and running muscles. The good news is, you can continue this method as long as you want. I have many athletes who complete half and full marathons with run/walks.
Gear up! The best and most essential need is to be prepared. Get yourself a good pair of running shoes. They don’t have to be super expensive, but do yourself a favor and go to a running store and have someone fit you for a proper shoe. They will be able to determine what works best based on your foot shape, your body type, and how your foot strikes the ground. This will make running much more comfortable and greatly decrease your risk of injury.
Having gear that you like to wear can also make it easier to get out the door. Pick out some fun work out clothes. These don’t have to be expensive. Old Navy, Target, Walmart and Uniqlo all have great stuff at budget prices. When you like what you have on or look forward to a fun outfit, it increases your odds of actually running.
Treat yourself. If you find that you dread getting started, pick something to look forward to. Maybe you get to have your favorite dessert on the weekend if you get 4 runs in during the week. Or perhaps once you complete 20 total miles, you get that new pair of shorts you have been wanting. Everyone deserves a treat sometimes and it can be an excellent motivator.
Join a group. There are so many ways to do this and have fun. Local running stores have social runs. They usually offer these for all paces and distances. The most common concern I get is that people are afraid they will be too slow. Let me be the first to tell you that run clubs want you to be there. Runners love seeing other runners and especially newbies. They will likely slow their pace down if needed and help you out. Here in Chicago there are places like Fleet Feet and Lululemon that offer free runs during the week. Fleet Feet offers a Chick’s Night just for women and they have prizes for hitting various distances over time. They also have a pint night where they offer a free beer afterwards, and an opportunity to chat more once you have caught your breath. Road Runner Sports also offers Adventure Runs in the summer. These are free runs where you take off on a scavenger hunt and accumulate prizes along the way.
These groups aren’t just for bigger cities. Traverse City, Michigan has a great social running group that meets weekly. They pick a meet up location and post it on their Facebook page. The run always offers options for all distances and paces. And the best part is, they usually finish at a fun spot for a drink or a meal. I often see pics of parents and kids together on these runs.
And if you can’t find a local group to join, there are plenty of virtual options. The Pathetic Runner’s Group on Facebook is a fun spot where mostly beginner runners chat about their struggles, funny moments, and send encouragement to other fellow runners.
Remember that running should be a fun journey for you. Do it on your own terms and enjoy the ride! There are so many great benefits to be gained: increased endurance, a healthier body, and the dessert….never forget the dessert!