I received the following message on Facebook from one of my friends:
“Have you written something for people who are just starting out? Not that I’m THAT interested in running mind you, but…… 😉“
So, I thought I would write my thoughts on what one should do/think about when they are starting to run. First off, I need to mention I am not a trained coach or personal trainer. These are my opinions and thoughts based on when I ran back in highschool, and from starting back up as a runner now. Any I do not take any credit for quotes or information in links to other articles that I have shared below, as those are the intellectual property of their authors. Also, you should check with your Doctor before starting any physical fitness program. I also know that I have other runners that read my blog – please add your comments below with any new ideas you might have, or places that you disagree with me (I know that some of you have been running much longer than I have!)
Many of the lessons I have to offer, are based on what I did. Not as an example of how to do it – but an example of what happens when you don’t!
Physical Fitness level – While it is certainly important to know where you want to get TO, it is just as important to realize where you are. I know of to many people (myself included – before I started running again), who spent all day sitting at work and did no real physical activity. I did an occasional hike (which hurt), some recreational swimming with the family (which left me sore the next day) or a leisurely walk around the block (which I can say did not cause me any soreness.) When starting from a base line of ZERO in running, and no real exercise to speak of – it would not be the wisest of things to just start off by going and running 3 miles. While an 18 year old MAY be able to get away with this, as we get older it causes more damage, which means more recovery time. Making your beginning workouts easy and within your capabilities – will allow you to keep at it without breaks from injury and with less holding you back mentally. I have tried several times to ignore my current levels and push it. From my first run (4 miles) that left me unable to move the next day, to trying to run hills in my minimalist shoes waaaaay to early. (pulled calf muscle.) When in doubt assume you are less-fit than you think!
Environment – As this in an internet posting, it is important to mention location/season/weather differences. If you are in Texas in the middle of the summer or in Minnesota in the middle of winter – you may want to consider starting out on a treadmill to avoid the temperature extremes. If you are adverse to running on the infamous “dread-mill” the environment still remains important. During the summer time in Austin, Tx – you may find running first thing in the morning to be cooler and less humid – leading to a far more enjoyable run. This bit of advice is true for most summer locations! When considering what to wear out to run – remember that what you wear can make an incredible difference in how enjoyable the run is. The idea of runner’s tights might make a man laugh, but when worn under wind pants they make a cold-days run seem nice and toasty. Runners world has an online ‘dress calculator’ to give suggestions on how to dress. Remember that when you are running – you will feel MUCH warmer than you would when just walking out side (well, after the first mile or so!) Also, while running in winter – while the losing 40% of your heat through your head is a fallacy – it is important to wear a warm hat and clothes! It isn’t a bad idea to set up your running so you have a place to stash clothes in case you err and wear to much! I have been known to do a mile or two warm up that came back near my house -so I can stash a sweatshirt I THOUGHT I would want.
Goals – Why are you running? Is a marathon on your bucket-list? Trying to get rid of the bulge you’ve built up around the waist? Or maybe you just want to feel the “rush of competition” – whether it be in races or against yourself! Ultimately only you can answer WHY you want to run – but regardless of the reason – SET A GOAL! Maybe your long term goal is a marathon, or just to be able to run a 5k without stopping. You need that “target” and benchmarks along the way. For a 5k non-stop, your first goal might simply to be get out there and run.. then run a mile, work up to two miles, then three! (For 5k’rs that have never run – the Couch to 5K program can help you build a plan to get there.) For a future-marathoner – start running slowly and work toward a 5k.. Then a 10k.. then a 1/2 marathon.. For those that are out there to “Battle the bulge” – consider working toward 5k’s. They are a great way to measure your progress and everyone that runs – “wins.” The last finisher gets as much applause as the first! I have run and done regular 5ks, or focused on the long term goal of my marathon – ignoring local 5ks. I can say that having the reminders of the fun of races – helps encourage me in my running and keep me out there. If I do no races.. it can be harder to push myself.
Dedication– Now I may be prior-service military, but I am NOT going to pop out with some “Hoo-rah” speech. Simply put I am going to tell you – if you are going to do it, then do it. If you have decided to give this running thing a try, commit for two months. At a pre-designated time 4 times a week, get out side and go run (or walk.. or a combination of the two.) The number of times I have regretted my decision to go running is tiny. The number of times I have regretted my decision to NOT go running – haven’t been.
Here are some thoughts for today. I have more to say on it – but as it has taken me two days to get this posted, Click here for Part Two – THE SHOES!