Do you want to be a runner? Or you want to stay in shape this summer? Don’t know where to start? Do not be intimidated! There have been periods of time in my life where I had to start from the beginning. One mile felt awful. I never thought I would ever consider myself a runner who actually ENJOYED running, but all it takes is hard work, self love and PATIENCE.
I’m no expert, but I feel like I have some tricks of the trade that can help. Here are 5 tips that worked for me:
5 Tips for Beginner Runners:
1) The Hardest Step is the first (and that first mile will always feel lousy)
Set a goal for yourself. Do you want to be able to run 10 minutes without stopping? Or 1 mile? Or are you hoping to get in shape to run a 5K with your friends and family? Or perhaps you’re finally ready to try a runDisney race??Give yourself plenty of time to prepare and do some research on training plans. I have friends who swear by the Couch to 5K training plan, and there are some great resources like the one here from Runner’s World.
Once you have that goal in mind get out there and get movin’! No one else is going to do the work for you. Plan to run at times where you know you will hold yourself accountable (ex: mornings before the day gets busy) and you’re less likely to skip. Track your goals in a journal or spreadsheet. That first mile is always going to be the hardest so use some mental mantras to help ease the pain. As time goes on you can look back on your workouts and see how far you’ve come. “You got this.”
2) Go easy on yourself in the beginning
I was very private about my early running days because I was too embarrassed to tell anyone how much I was suffering. I was jealous of my #blessed friends who could just wake up without training and run an 8 minute mile no problem. I was never going to be like that. I went really slowly and over the course of the weeks and months I started feeling more comfortable running 2 miles, then 3 miles, then 3+ miles. Be patient with yourself. The beginning is going to feel hard and your lungs are going to feel like they’re on fire. You will be walking from time to time. But don’t give up! A little bit goes a long way, and consistency will make the pain go away. Otherwise if you start from the beginning over and over you are going to hate everything about running (been there!)
3) Invest in a fitted pair of shoes and running gear
Unlike most sports, you don’t need a whole lot of equipment. The most important piece of your uniform is your running shoes. Yes, they’re expensive but believe me, it is going to feel so much better to run in proper footwear than some old trainers you have lying around. Invest in yourself. Get properly fitted by a running shoe store expert. They will help you determine what shoe works best for you: high arches, no arches, heel support, room for your toes, etc.
As a beginner runner, you also really don’t need all the bells and whistles that running stores offer, like water bottle belts, fancy sunglasses and watches. If you want to invest in a Fitbit or Garmin, great. What you SHOULD invest in is running apparel to prepare you for the elements: moisture-wicking fabrics, shells and jackets, gloves and hats. Being prepared for the weather, rain or shine, can only help you! Being unprepared is a drag. Plus you will look and feel confident in your new bright-colored clothing. Don’t worry, you don’t need to break the bank! Check out your local bargain stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and others if you don’t want to spend a lot at the running store.
4) If you run, you’re a runner
It’s hard to look at running magazine, articles and see these long, lean athletes. You might be thinking to yourself, “well, I’ll never be a real runner.” I used to think that way too. And then I proved myself, and society wrong, by running. If you run, you are a runner. You have a runner’s body. Everyone deserves to feel the joy and power of running.
Find a community that makes you feel good about yourself and your accomplishments. I have found that the Instagram running community is incredibly supportive, and there are companies whose missions are to make people of all shapes and sizes feel welcome.
Skirt Sports is one of those companies. In addition to their incredible apparel for all body types, they support women (and men) who want to go out and see what their bodies can do. You are more likely to continue doing something you love if you have a community of people behind you who support you and care for you! Find your tribe.
5) Don’t forget about the other important parts of running: non-running
Strengthen your muscles and tendons by strength training, light, dynamic stretching before and after your runs, and hydrating. Find ways to walk around and have an active lifestyle. Fuel your body properly with fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins, yadda, yadda. But don’t forget to enjoy life and indulge, too. Remember, this is a lifestyle, not a diet! And chances are, the healthier you feel, the more energetic, happy, and strong you will be, which will seep into all aspects of your life, creating positive changes in your relationship with yourself and others.
What are you waiting for? Let’s get started!
Gina / Will Run for Disney