There can be tons of questions about how to start. What do I need to run? Why do I feel like I’m out of breath? How often do I run? We will cover all that and more, so let’s dive in.
It’s important to know why you are running. What is the purpose? Is it the best way to burn calories because you want to run a race or because you enjoyed running and want to get back into it? Knowing why you are doing it is essential because you are more likely to quit if you are doing it for an external reason. When I started running cross country in the 9th grade, I did it because my coach said so. At that moment, I hated going to practice – so I quit and went to cheerleading practice. After one day at cheer practice, I realized I wasn’t good at cheer. The next day I was back at cross country practice and found internal joy – primarily because I was good at it and wanted to be the best.
Now you know why you want to run. We need some GEAR!!!! Find some comfortable clothes. Make sure to dress for the weather. In the summer, wear moisture-wicking clothing that will keep you dry. Clothing should be loose and comfortable. Wear breathable layers, like a long sleeve shirt or jacket in the spring and fall. Add more layers, a fleece jacket, and a hat and gloves in the winter. If you run cold like me – you’ll want to wear many layers.
Running shoes come in different styles, such as neutral, stability, and motion control. So which ones do you get? I always suggest going to a local running to get a fitting. A local running store usually has perks such as 30-90 day risk-free returns. This means you can try the shoes, and if they don’t feel great, you can return them. Neutral shoes are for runners who have typical pronation. Runners who have overpronation their foot rolls inward want to have a stability or motion control shoe. Local running stores will have you walk or run to check out your running gait to help fit you in the correct shoe.
In all, you want to be comfortable in your gear to have a fun and comfortable run. Now we are ready to hit the pavement, but before we do. We must warm up. Walking before you run is considered a warm-up. I would suggest walking at least a half-mile. That’s two laps around the track. Or you can do some dynamic stretching. You can see examples of a short warm-up routine on my YouTube or IG page; links are in the show notes. Warming up helps the body increase blood flow to the muscles and raises your body temperature. It also prepares the body to do work. So when you start running, you feel less out of breath because your body’s physiological system is ready to go. Other benefits include reducing muscle soreness, migrates injury, joints loosening up, and you have a brain-body connection.
After your warm-up, you should start off running slow. Think of it as a process. We are not going to run far or fast overnight. I highly suggest starting off doing interval running. See how far you can run at a comfortable pace. It can be a quarter of a mile or less. Don’t stress over the distance. When the run becomes a little more than slightly uncomfortable, begin your walk. Your walk can be the same distance. You want to walk until you have almost caught your breath but not wholly on a number scale from 1 to 10. Where one is doing nothing and ten is exhausted. You should run until a 7-8 and walk until you reach a 3-4. As you continue to run slightly tired, your body will learn to adapt.
During runs, try not to pant; it will make you feel like you are short of breath. You want to get as much oxygen in your diaphragm as possible. There are a few ways to breathe – in the nose out the nose, in the mouth, and out the mouth. These equal more panting. Try breathing in the nose and out the mouth. Once you get the hang of it, you can try breathing in the nose and mouth and out both simultaneously. You can practice your breathing while sitting in the bed, strength training, or meditating. When you are out of breath, slow down and concentrate on the breath in the nose and out the mouth.
Over time, you should run further before you reach your discomfort level. Once you can run close to a mile, I suggest downloading an app to help you with your training. There are a few running apps. I have personally used the Nike running app to train for my half marathon.
How often should you run now that you have started running? Many runners like to run every day or most days of the week. I would suggest running 2-3 times a week. Think in lines of consistency and quality runs or quantity. Running more does more damage to the body. I remember the first half marathon I signed up for; I was out of my running element. When I signed up, the furthest distance I had run as an adult was a quarter marathon. And in college, I was a sprinter. So I was panicking a lot about my upcoming race, which was months away. I was running damn near every day. Running high mileage to be prepared for the race, and the closer I got, the more my shins started to hurt. I had to wear compression sleeves on my shins in my race because I had shin splints. I ran two halves one month apart that year, and they both felt awful. My next half was a year later. I wanted to run a sub for 2 hours. So I switched my whole training plan, and I only ran three days a week. Every week I told myself to trust the process. I was nervous that I wasn’t getting enough miles and that my long run wasn’t fast enough. So I purposeful ran them at a slower pace. I achieved my goal of a sub 2. My run felt amazing. It was cold, but I felt strong and at ease when I crossed the finish line. And I didn’t get injured.
Another big thing was cross-training, lifting weights, swimming, biking, and walking. I will go into more details on cross-training on future podcasts.
Another tip to mitigate injuries is finding a suitable surface to run on or switch surfaces to protect your legs. For example, concrete can be hard on your feet and legs. So try running on other surfaces such as grass, dirt, sand, gravel, and track surface. Running in sand and gravel can give your feet and legs a different feel. It can also change the difficulty level of your run. Trail running and beach runs are hard AF!
When you are out there killing your runs, I want you to remember this. You will have days where you won’t kill it. During those days, it’s okay to slow down your pace, and it’s okay to WALK! When your body needs a break, it will let you know. Walking during runs is normal. You are not starting from the beginning. Walking during runs won’t set you back, and either will miss a few runs. Listen to your body. It is intuitive and knows what it needs.
Now you are out there running – what do you do now? First, you can make a running-related goal. For example, do you want to increase speed -distance – run a race? Be sure to make the goal attainable. Don’t expect to go from an 11:00 minute mile to a 7:00 minute mile overnight. Increasing speed takes time, and genetics plays a factor in how fast you can get. I suggest making a short-term goal for 6-8 weeks away. In that time, you can get seconds faster, run a couple of miles further or prepare yourself for your first 5k.
Before I let you get ready for your first run, let’s a recap
- Know why you are running
- Get the comfortable running gear
- Warm-up before you run
- Start running slow
- Practice breathing
- Finding a training plan
- Run consistently, less is better
- Cross Train
- Switch surfaces
- It’s Okay to walk
- Make a goal
Now go and have fun, until the next episode where we talk about running safely.