People who know me know one thing to be absolutely true: I am not in any way athletic. Sure, I was involved with cheerleading and dance for most of my life, but when it came to "real sports" I was severely behind the curve. I was always the first person to be "knocked out" in Knockout and the last person to be picked for any team in P.E.
So when I made the decision to run a 5K for the first time this fall, I found it hard to tell people because I figured they wouldn't believe me.
I didn't think I could finish the race, especially with only a few weeks of running under my belt. However, I finished in a time that I'm pretty proud of (that will remain confidential—anyone who can actually run would be ashamed of this time). Now, I'm training for a 10K in six months. I never thought I would ever reach a point that would want to run, much less that I could run more than one mile at a time, but I did it and so can you with these tips I used to get started.
1. Find a fitness buddy!Spongebob Squarepants F GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY Giphy
The problem I've most often faced in my personal fitness career is that I'm usually the only person holding myself accountable. Therefore, when I don't want to work out, I just don't—I can't find any harm in going against what I want to do. I've started running with a friend though, and we're working toward a goal together. I don't want to let her down, so her presence is holding me accountable for staying in shape. I make an effort to run two to three times per week and she does the same so we can enjoy this fitness journey together, even if we aren't always at the gym at the same time.
2. Splurge for a Fitbit or other fitness tracker.
Some sort of fitness tracker is an excellent tool to track not only each individual workout, but also your progress as a whole. With other useful features as well, many trackers are more like smartwatches today. Plus, putting down a serious amount of money ($100+) will help encourage you to run if getting in shape or improving your athletic ability isn't enough.
3. Sign up for a race.Marathon GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY Giphy
In addition to having to put money down, signing up for a race creates a deadline for you. You can then make a plan for how you're going to reach your goal by the time the event arrives. This method will encourage you to get running frequently and to continue to challenge yourself as you get comfortable running.
4. Tell people that you've started running.
Peer pressure can be a magical tool. If other people know that you've started running and have a goal in mind, they will expect you to reach that goal. I've found that their expectations influence me more than I'd like to admit, but I mean, it's getting the job done.
5. Make a killer playlist.
There's nothing like some Beyonce, Imagine Dragons, or even "Hamilton" to get you moving. Anything that pumps you up will do the trick! I only allow myself to listen to my workout playlist while I'm running. So, if I want to get pumped, I first have to pump myself up on the track.
6. Schedule your run(s) into your week.Organize Sharpie Marker GIF by Sharpie - Find & Share on GIPHY Giphy
If you don't like to work out, you're not going to start by just saying, "Oh, I want to start running this week. I'll go when I get time." No, that doesn't work. You have to make it a non-negotiable part of your schedule. That way, nothing will conflict with workout time, and that sweaty time becomes a priority.
7. Reward yourself when and only when you've completed the run.Parks And Recreation Treat Yo Self GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY Giphy
At the coffee shop in my dorm, they make these really good smoothies. I honestly can't get enough of them. I like to reward myself after a run with one of those and another treat or two that I want throughout the day. If you're going to do this, it's important to not reward yourself before your workout. The treats must come after, so you have a reason to run.
8. Track your progress visually.Learning GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY Giphy
Personally, it really helps me out to make some sort of visual tracker so I can see my progress. I like to used a piece of paper that I can color in. Plus, if you hang it on your wall somewhere, you have to look at it every day which will motivate you even more.
9. Find a route you like.
Whether it's a path around your neighborhood, a track that's easy to run on, or even a certain treadmill in the gym, find somewhere you like to run. Trust me, it will make the whole experience much more pleasant.
10. Invest in a good pair of running shoes.Jonas Mosesson GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY Giphy
I have yet to purchase a pair of shoes that are actually good for running, and let me tell you, my knees are feeling it. Having the right shoes to run in is the difference between succeeding and injuring yourself. Plus, who doesn't love a new, comfy pair of shoes?
Making the first step toward fitness goals is easy. It's the second part that'll trip you up. Commitment is key!