Have you ever heard someone exclaim, “I love to run!” and think they were insane? That was me 10 years ago….and I come from a family of runners. I used to watch them go out for a run in 30 degree Buffalo weather and think to myself, who in their right mind would ever put themselves through that torture?!
I didn’t start running until I was a senior in high school…and I hated it. I dreaded running the mile gym class. I cringed every time my mom suggested we go out for a quick run. And, I would do almost anything to avoid a charity 5K (I know, so terrible!).
But, things got better.
I started to notice that “runner’s high” everyone was talking about. I could no longer ignore that sense of accomplishment I felt after spending a sweaty 30 minutes running around my neighborhood, jogging to the beat of Beyonce. I admit it – I became one of those weirdos who loves to run.
Let me say it one more time: I love to run. And, I want you to love it too. So, here is my advice on how to become a runner (when you actually think you hate it).
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Lets face it: running is hard. If you’re just getting started, you shouldn’t lace up your shoes and try to run until you drop. Focusing on speed and distance early on will only cause serious injury. If the thought of a run seems overwhelming, try alternating 2 minutes of running with 1 minute of walking. As your endurance builds, try running for longer intervals. When I was new to running, this is the method I used. Over time, I went from barely being able to run a half mile, to running an entire half marathon without stopping.
Make an awesome playlist.
Now, this is the really fun part! Music is an amazing motivator. Choose songs that are upbeat and offer inspiring lyrics. The rhythmic speed of your music will also influence your pace, so try to pick songs that match your tempo. I like to use Spotify. They match songs that you love to the tempo you’re running. When you adjust your pace, they automatically adjust the music. So simple! Let the music take over and enjoy the beat.
Listen to your body.
If you’re a new runner, don’t push it. Listen to your body: if something hurts, stop and take a step back. If you start feeling overtired or notice worsening aches and pains, these are telltale signs of impending injury. Give your body the rest it needs. When I first started out, I was so motivated to become a “runner” that I pushed my body beyond its breaking point…literally. I developed a small stress fracture in my foot that forced me to take it easy. Listen to your body and find your limits.
Sign up for races.
When I first started running, the thought of signing up for a road race was intimidating. But, races can be very motivating! Set a realistic goal (maybe a 5k?) and put it on the calendar in permanent marker. Sign up online ASAP – when you pay a race fee to participate, your’e less likely to brush it off. Plus, who doesn’t love getting that race t-shirt?!
Buy great shoes.
All feet are different. If you’re truly dedicated to becoming a runner, new shoes are the best investment you can make. When I first started running, I found an old pair of sneakers from the back of my closet and threw them on. That was a big mistake! I started experiencing painful plantar fasciitis and knee pain, which I later discovered was because I was wearing shoes that were completely wrong for my feet. Go to a running store and get fitted for shoes. Getting good advice from running shoe experts can save you pain and frustration later. My favorite shoes are ASICS GEL-Kayanos.
Let the guilt motivate you.
Although this might sound funny, let the guilt of not running be a motivator. Once I started running on a consistent basis, I developed a strong case of runner’s guilt…this visceral feeling of remorse that creeps up from skipping a run. And, I hate this feeling. This guilt shouldn’t take over your life by any means, but it should serve as motivation and push you to achieve your goals.