8 Steps to Begin Running

 

School ends in less than 2 weeks, and that means summer will be here before we know it. And we all know summer means bikini season… which would explain why right about this time every year most of my friends and family (and random acquaintances) decide that they are going to start running. Again. Everyone hibernated over the winter but now it’s time to recommit and get back out there!

I’m a year round runner. In fact, I love to winter train and all I ask for at Christmas every year is nice North Face or Nike winter running gear because winter training really isn’t that bad if you have awesome gear to run in. Plus, I hate being too hot and you really can’t get too hot in -30 windchill. But I know I’m in the minority here. Even among my friends who are pretty dedicated runners, winter is when they slack off.

For those of you out there who’ve decided running is for you now that it’s sunny and beautiful, here are 8 tips on getting started:

1. Buy nice running clothes.

This doesn’t have to break the bank, but make sure you have at least one dedicated running outfit that is both cute and comfortable. You’re more likely to get out for a run if you feel confident and athletic in what you’re wearing. Also remember: pick clothes you’ll be comfortable running in for more than a couple of minutes. That means clothes that don’t ride up, chafe, or feel awkward when you move. Stay far away from cotton. I’m very particular about my running shorts, for example, and I have one favorite type that I always wear. When I put them on I feel ready to run, and I can run for hours in them without feeling self-conscious.

2. Invest in good running shoes.

Good running shoes are the only thing you really need to invest in when you start running, and they are essential. The wrong shoes can literally break you. It’s important to go to a dedicated running store (stores like Mill City Running http://www.millcityrunning.com/ and Run n Fun http://rnfun.com/ are great) to have a running expert help you get in the right shoe. There is no one-size-fits-all running shoe which is why there are so many different types of shoes, most of which you’ve probably never heard of (hence why you need to go see a pro). The most important thing: just because it’s a sexy shoe doesn’t mean you can wear it. Nike Frees are not for most people - get the shoe that will keep you injury-free, not the one that looks the hottest in your Instagram gym pic.

3. Make a great running playlist.

Now is the time to bring out all the late 90s/early 2000s rap and hip hop you used to dance to in middle school. Make a playlist that is long enough to cover any length workout and includes songs that make you feel like a professional athlete in a Nike commercial. Whenever you’re feeling sluggish during a run, finding those go-to pump up songs will make you pick up the pace (at least for a few blocks).

4. Be reasonable and have a plan.

Whenever I start back to running after a long break, I try to pick up right where I left off. It’s a terrible idea because I’m instantly discouraged - my mile times are slow and I can’t run for as long as I thought I could, leaving me stranded 30 minutes from my apartment with no choice but to walk home. Sometimes that means I run once and then I don’t run again for a week or two. It’s a better idea to get started with a plan: running 15-30 minutes at a jogging pace 1-3 times per week, for example, slowly increasing the length of the runs and the number of times per week after a few weeks have gone by. Writing out a plan forces you to stick to a schedule and makes you accountable to your calendar - if you wrote it down, you have to do it.

5. Don’t neglect your core.

This is one of my biggest problems, and it’s currently left me with tendonitis in my left butt cheek (no, that’s not a joke, apparently it’s a real thing). It can be easy to start running and think “Wow, I’ve got all my working out covered!” but don’t be fooled. Neglecting your core is one of the best ways to get yourself injured. Plus you know you want killer abs to go with the rest of your bikini body. So try to work in 15-20 minutes of core at least twice a week - things like crunches and bicycles, planks/bridges, squats, etc.

6. Find a buddy.

I’ve trained for 2 marathons now and I can tell you that if I don’t have a buddy for my long runs and speed workouts, chances are they won’t get done. (Side note: if you’re interested in running a marathon, check out PE 1262 for next spring, it’s the UMN marathon training class) Having a training partner increases accountability - you can’t bail just because you’d rather be at home with Netflix and ice cream since there is someone else waiting for you now. Also, having a training partner helps you run longer and faster. It can be hard to coordinate running with a buddy every day, but try to get someone to join you on longer runs or runs where you’re really trying to push yourself.

7. Eat the right food and drink lots of water.

It’s so tempting to start running and then want to “reward” yourself with dessert for your good work. Unfortunately, that not only ruins any progress you’ve made towards the bikini body mentioned at the beginning of this post, it also makes running the next day more difficult. Your body needs good food to run well. Focus on getting plenty of good carbs (whole wheat pasta, rice, tortillas, whole wheat bread), protein, good fats (think avocados and olive oil), plenty of vegetables and fruits, and lots of water. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t eat dessert (I personally eat chocolate every day), just make sure you’re getting all of this other great stuff in first. You’ll feel better and you’ll run better.

8. Sign up for a race.

Signing up for a race is a good way to keep yourself motivated. The race is your reward for putting in the miles and sticking to your schedule. It’s more fun if you can get your friends or family to sign up as well (plus they double as training buddies!) to make race day a special event. The races don’t have to be intense - signing up for a fun 5K run is just as motivating as signing up for a half marathon. Pick a run you’ll look forward to participating in!

The most important thing about getting into running is to try your best to enjoy it. The more you run, the easier it gets. So get grab your new shoes and get out to enjoy the sunshine!

 

- Claire Atmore

 

Scott MeyerComment