A few months ago I started a journey to become a runner. I still have a long way to go, but I'm so excited for this journey has taken me already. I started with a Couch to 5K App that I'm loving so far, within the next week I will be running five kilometers and plan to do that three to four times a week. Middle school Andie probably would've scoffed at this new goal. I ran track in junior high for two years and it was utter torture. I suffered from terrible shin splints and was only able to compete in two meets because I was actually that bad. My relationship with running was unfortunately shaped by bad experiences and injuries that never seemed to heal.
Since then I’ve tried from time to time to run. I guess I never really had my heart in it because it always failed. I would run for a day or two and then write off running again. This time around I’m loving it and starting to see real progress. Part of the problem originally was that I lacked the skills to start running. I was desperately out of shape and running three miles straight was not even something I could’ve ever considered. I’m not trying to share how athletic and in shape I am because trust me I am neither of those things. But I am slowly becoming a person who finds utter joy in being able to run for more than 30 seconds without wheezing and falling over.
This time, I took it incredibly slow. It was actually a spur of the moment decision to start running, but I’m so glad I decided to try it and stick to it even when it has been hard. These are some tips for anyone who is interested in running.
Since I was following a program I just did the run it told me to do each day. The first day I was only required to run for a few minutes out of the 30 total minutes. I was thankful that I started that slow or I never would’ve kept going. If I had tried to run for 30 minutes straight two months ago, I would not be running today. Your starting point may be much different than mine, but starting slow is better than getting burnt out quickly.
Do it with a friend
If you have a friend who is willing and able, start running with them. The time will pass quickly, you’ll be able to motivate each other, and you can share in your successes together.
Eat enough nutritious food
It’s important to make sure that you’re eating enough healthy food to take care of your body. Make sure you’re eating enough to sustain you and fuel your body.
Set attainable, measurable goals
As I mentioned my first goal was a 5k. I literally never imagined I would be someone that could run for that long, but I am now. I’d like to keep setting goals. I’ll never be a marathon runner, but a Disney half marathon sounds amazing. I’ll focus on that goal later.
Take care of yourself
No matter what you need to listen to your body. With a busy semester and other conflicts, there have been weeks where I had to put off running for a few days. Exercise makes me feel great, but not if I haven’t gotten any sleep or if I’m using it as a procrastination method. If you need to take time off from running for any reason, do it. Taking caring of yourself physically and mentally is important!
Stretch, stretch and stretch again
Stretching helps you in immense ways if you’re a runner or otherwise. It loosens and lengthens your muscles and helps prevent injuries. In addition to stretching after runs, adding yoga to your routine builds strength and flexibility.If you’ve been considering running I would absolutely suggest you try it. Running may not be your thing, but you'll never know until you try. If it doesn’t work out, at least you’ll know and you can move toward finding a fitness routine that keeps you happy and healthy.