One of the hardest things about running is actually deciding to start. There are lots of people who are curious about running, whether to compete in a race or as a way to exercise to improve health and fitness or to lose weight. All are excellent reasons to take up running. But how does one get out the door and make running a routine part of their life? There’s no one magical answer, unfortunately. However, I’m going to explain ways that I feel will keep you motivated.
Find Your Why
The first thing you need to do is to find the main reason why you want to run. Is it to lose weight? Is it to run a 5k or marathon? Is it to improve fitness? Any reason is a good reason to run. The reason to find your reason to run is because that is what will keep you motivated to keep running. If you want to lose 15 pounds, for example, that should be what’s on your mind when you run. Think about how good you’ll feel and look with those extra pounds gone. If it’s to finish a marathon, think about how awesome it’ll be to cross that finish line (trust me, it’s way beyond awesome).
Start Slow and Easy
Now that you have a reason to run, it’s time to get out there and do it. But what should you do exactly? How far should you go? How fast? The one thing that can ruin any plans to run is to take things too fast too quickly. You shouldn’t feel the need to finish 3 to 4 miles nonstop on your first or second day. In fact, that would be disastrous. You could get hurt and you’ll definitely be discouraged as you’re not used to running yet.
The best thing, I feel, is to start slow–very, very slow. I mean both in your pace and distance. You should start by walk/running 1 mile. Yes, only 1 mile. By walk/run I mean you should walk the first quarter mile, slowly jog at a very easy pace the next quarter mile, walk the third quarter and slowly jog the final quarter. An easy pace is whatever you feel is easy. The time it takes you to do this is not important. What’s important is that you get your body used to doing physical activity. Don’t feel the need to run the entire mile. There’s nothing wrong with mixing in walking while running. You don’t want to exhaust yourself and risk injury the first time you run. If you feel like the walk/run 1 mile workout wasn’t that hard, that’s fine. Running doesn’t have to be exhausting each time you do it. Most of the time it shouldn’t. Do that workout for one whole week, at least three times. You might be sore after the first day. That’s a good thing. It means you worked muscles that you don’t work often. The soreness will disappear in a few days. If it doesn’t then please see a doctor.
Please don’t feel intimidated or embarrassed if you notice other people running faster and longer than you. They have experience and some have years of training behind them. You’ll get there in time. Don’t eat the whole elephant in one sitting (my lovely wife tells me this constantly).
Challenge Yourself/Achieve New Goals
To stick to a running regiment, you need to challenge yourself to avoid complacency and boredom. You do that by finding small ways to push yourself and achieve new goals. After the first week of walk/running 1 mile, you can walk/run 1.25 miles or run three quarters of a mile and walk just one quarter as opposed to run half/walk half. For the third week, shoot for maybe running the whole mile or move up to run/walking 1.5 miles. Build up slowly like that so it’s a goal you can achieve. When you accomplish goals, you feel great and confident. Guess what? You want to achieve more goals. Because you feel confident, you believe you can accomplish the next goal. Confidence plays a huge role in motivation.
When you achieve a goal treat yourself in some form because you deserve it. Maybe have an extra candy bite or a soda or an extra helping of mashed potatoes. Obviously, don’t overdo it as it’ll negate the calorie-burning effects of the run. Don’t treat yourself after every run but maybe once every week or two if you like.
You know what will happen if you build slowly? You’ll find yourself wanting to keep achieving goals because they’re realistic and you’ll find yourself doing more and more. Suddenly, you’ll be at 2 miles then 3 then 4–all within a couple of months. Yes, you can go from never running to running or run/walking 4 miles within 2 or 3 months. However, you have to build up to it.
Having attainable goals will keep you pushing for more. It does and did for me. That’s how I’ve been able to go from 5k runs to finishing the world’s largest marathons under 3 hours. I accomplished little goals I set for myself then increased those goals slowly. The next I knew I was winning a half marathon then I was on Boylston Street in Boston finishing the Boston Marathon. You can get to anywhere you want to be. I know you can.
Running With You,