As spring makes a comeback and warmer weather an official return, people everywhere will be ditching the gym treadmill and taking it to the streets. Maybe you’ve been thinking about starting a running program, but don’t know how. Maybe you want to lose weight, build your endurance, run a 5K or train for a marathon. Is running for you? Probably not. After all, the last time you ran a mile was in high school gym class and even that proved to be a struggle.
Follow these steps to get running right from the beginning:
- Start with your diet! Make sure you well hydrated by drinking at least 8 ounces of water eight times a day and eating a small, quality, sugar-boosting snack 30 minutes before you head out the door. Start incorporating fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and lean meats or proteins (such as fish and chicken) into your diet. Cut out as much processed and pre-packaged food as possible.
- Go to your local specialty running shop and get fitted for a pair of running shoes. All shoes are not created equal. A good running store will analyze your stride and gait and make sure you are wearing a shoe that will provide adequate support and cushioning helping to increase comfort and reduce injury.
- Take it slow. Don’t increase mileage or speed too fast and listen to your body to avoid injury. If you can’t speak without huffing and puffing during your run or are doing so afterwards, you are running too fast. Remember, slow and steady finishes the race.
- Begin with a run/walk strategy if you are uncomfortable. After you’ve warmed-up with a 5-minute walk, run for a short segment and then take a walk break. Beginners can alternate very short run segments with short walks, such as one minute running, three minutes walking. Keep repeating your run/walk pattern until you’ve covered your goal distance or time.
- Baby steps are the key. Start making one diet change a week or commit to running for 30 minutes two days a week. Don’t try to change everything all at once or you may feel overwhelmed and give up.
- Write it down. Keep a log of miles run, pace, weather conditions, food you ate beforehand, shoes and apparel you wore and how your body and mood felt. Review your notes frequently and you will begin to notice patterns in your workouts. This way, you can find out what works and what doesn’t. Keeping track of your progress also helps to keep you motivated.
- Don’t get discouraged! It’s so easy to beat yourself up if you do not make huge strides in the beginning. Don’t worry, it will come! If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
- Set goals for yourself. Run a mile with no walk breaks, set a mileage goal, or train for an upcoming 5K race benefiting your favorite charity. Once you achieve your goals, reward yourself with a new running shirt, an evening out or afternoon at the spa.
And don’t forget to have fun! Join a local running club or group; make a running date with a friend or spouse. Making plans and setting goals is not only enjoyable, it will help hold you accountable. Get out and get running this spring, your health – mind, body and soul – will thank you as you achieve what you once thought to be impossible.
Until the next mile marker,