Set a tangible goal like running a 5K (3.1 miles) race. Register for the 5K, and it will serve as your motivation to get in shape and keep your training regular and consistent. Whether this is your first race or you are getting back into shape running the 5K is a great way to succeed at learning to run and earn a great shirt too!
Start with where you ARE, rather than where you want to be. Learning to run will take some time, but if you start with your current activity level you will progress a lot faster and have more fun along the way. If you have been inactive, begin with a walking program or by sprinkling in short running intervals of 30 seconds to 1 minute followed by 3-4 minutes of power walking. Download the free Zero to Running Training Plan. It will guide you from the couch to running 30 minutes with a smile on your face!
Listen to your body while you train. The body actually grows stronger when you are resting. So training is a process that includes strategically placed workouts and rest days to allow your body to be stimulated by the activity and then recover during the rest. Many people make the mistake of over training and running too much, too soon and end up with an injury. It doesn’t have to be the case though if you listen to your body for aches and pains or just fatigue. If your body if giving you a yellow flag with a few aches, take an extra day off and adjust your training to allow full recovery.” Additional ways to improve recovery is to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night and eat frequent, well-balanced meals throughout the day.
Follow the three-week rule. Practice patience. Getting active takes time. It takes 21 days to create a new habit. Running regularly will become a habit over time. A body that is active, will want to stay active. A body that is inactive will want to stay inactive. The first 3 weeks is the most challenging. Make it a priority in your life and you’ll find 3-4 weeks later you will wonder how you managed without being active.
Pace Yourself. Learn to pace yourself while running. Mark out a 1-mile course in your neighborhood and teach yourself to run at various speeds. It will teach you how to run or walk at different gears and will be a very useful tool for race day. It is easy to go out too fast in the first few minutes and having well honed pacing skills will help you go farther.
Accessorize. Shopping for running shoes and apparel is a lot of fun. The essentials include a supportive pair of fitted running shoes, technical wicking socks, and a sport watch. Sure, there are lots of fun toys you can purchase along the way, but the best place to start your journey is to get professionally fitted at your local Fleet Feet Sports for running shoes. Stride for stride they will support your and carry you across the finish line. So, if you are new to this, head out and start with getting your support crew (shoes), and if you are a seasoned athlete, make sure your shoes are updated.
Think of food as fuel. You are what you eat. Your runs and walks are fueled by the food you eat every day. Keep a log of what you consume daily and it will give you a better perspective of what goes into your system. If you are having trouble dropping the weight you wanted or just not feeling strong while running, it could have something to do with how you fuel your body day to day. Eat smaller, more frequent meals well balanced with fruits, veggies, lean protein and even fats too. Skipping meals is the quickest way to gain weight and decrease the performance of your next run or walk. Think of your car and how it runs. If you run out of fuel, the car simply doesn’t move. If you put dirty fuel into the tank, the car doesn’t run efficiently. Food is fuel. Fuel well for your next performance.
Mix up your routine. Run one day and cycle or cross-train the next. Variety works a lot more muscle groups and keeps your workouts fresh and motivating. Alternating a run day with a cross-training day also allows your body time to adapt and recover from each run.
Build a strong foundation. Including strength training exercises for your upper body, core (abdomen, torso, hips, low back) and lower body twice per week for 8-12 repetitions builds strength in your musculature, tendons and joints. Developing strength supports your body as you run mile after mile. It will also improve efficiency and form while decreasing the risk of developing an overuse injury.
Stay motivated by keeping a log. Track your progress along the way. Write down your running time, mileage, and even mood! Every run or walk is a piece of the puzzle that will be completed at the finish line. Train with a buddy and make a commitment to meet them regularly. Run with a group or train with a team for charity. If all else fails you and you are struggling with motivation, think about how your feel after you complete each training session, and then how you feel if you skip a session. Commit to a shorter session and just get started. In most cases, once you get into the first 10 minutes you will complete the workout and feel great.
Keep it fun. The more fun it is, the more you will want to do it again. Schedule a session with a buddy, take a new route and try something new.