How to Become a Runner: Part 1 Getting Started

runnersQuestion: Are you a runner? Do you want to be? Like most people, I never saw myself as a runner. But the day I signed up for my first 5K race, I was “hooked.” I just didn’t realize it. Now, I run distances up to 50 miles! If you would have told me after my first 5K that I would one day run marathons and ultra marathons I would have laughed hysterically. That’s exactly the point. Who knew a runner was lurking inside me? Could there be one in you? Read on to find out.

Prepare Yourself

  • Get clearance. If you’re thinking of starting a running program, or at least trying it out, make sure you are medically able to do so. Most generally healthy people would be cleared. However, if you have a heart condition or past injury, your doctor may put the kibosh on your running dreams. If you’re already cleared for exercise, then it’s time to equip yourself.
  • Make sure the shoe fits. The number one reason people get running injuries is because of poor equipment. The most important thing is shoes. Become friends with your local running store. Good ones have runners working there who will fit you with a shoe based on performance and anatomical need versus your desire to have the hottest looking shoe. Besides your new kicks, make sure you have comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. I love gear that “wicks” the sweat away.
  • Find a buddy. You’re more likely to stick to a new plan if you have someone on your journey with you. Whether you play the role of the “motivator” or “motivatee,” you will both love the support you can give each other. Make it social and enjoy a light breakfast afterward. Check with your running store, too, they may have free running groups you can join.

Set Easy Goals

  • Run three days a week. Nobody goes from a couch potato to a distance runner or sprinter overnight. Have a realistic expectation of yourself. Give your body time to adjust to running by keeping your workouts to 30-60 minutes three times a week for the first three months. If that seems ambitious for you, no problem. Set a goal week-to-week like “This week I will run for 30 minutes once or twice.”
  • Start slow and watch your time. Success is built upon success. Your first few times out running, I want you to “wog” (that’s a combo of walk to jog)! Start with a 5 to 10 minute walking warm up. This brings blood to your large leg muscles and decreases chance of injury. Then start to jog. Check your watch and time yourself for one minute. If that is easy, jog up to five minutes but then take a mandatory two minute walk break – even if you don’t think you need it. This allows your heart rate to come down and gives a little time for your muscles to recover. The end result is that you will be able to go for longer. Maybe you’ll even make your 30 minute goal!

In the next post, I’ll talk to you about making progress in your running plan.

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