I am writing this for my many friends who have wanted to get into running- but don’t really know how to start.
So after years of not running/working out, I had a couple of failed attempts to get back to running (a few half marathons at the San Antonio Rock N Roll Half Marathon)- I had been wanting to get into running and thought that signing up would be enough and that I didn’t need to train. Sadly it wasn’t- and I got through those races- but not very quickly- and I promise you- they were harder to get through than my most recent PR half which was a lot quicker. Running will not endear itself to you if it is the equivalent of being waterboarded in motion. You enjoy running so much more when you are fit and in shape (and even then it can still have its off days- not going to lie to you).
I think a lot of what overwhelms people about running is where to start. Oh so I want to be a runner- I’m going to go out run six miles- feel like I’m in the slow process of dying during that and then decide after that I hate running and I’m not a runner. Running – when you’re not in running shape- is HARD. Deciding to work yourself up and being realistic about speed and endurance will keep you on a better track to hitting whatever goals you have than being unrealistic from the get. Like with anything- it takes hard work.
So when I decided to join the San Diego Track Club, one of the prerequisites on their site was being able to run twenty minutes without stopping. To me back then, that was the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest, while carrying my entire family on my back. I remember one of my first runs, I decided to go out and do 4 miles. I did 2, felt like death and super nauseous and humbly took a shortcut walk back home. I got on a schedule- stuck with it and just a little over 2 months after that, I completed the LA Marathon in a pretty respectable time.
Soooooo here are my best tips to getting after it:
1. Consistency- I think the biggest thing is consistency. It’s easy to get discouraged if one run goes bad, or feels hard, but if you give up after that- you won’t get to see the payoff later. Commit to running 30 days in a row - any distance that feels doable- whether it's 30 days of running 2 miles a day- or 30 days of running half a mile a day. The more consistent you are... the easier it gets.
2. Make a schedule- and stick to it- Find a schedule, have a friend make you a schedule, or get a coach- but put SOMETHING together that you can go into autopilot with and just do.
3. Mentor- Find a mentor- basically someone who has run at least two days longer than you- who can help answer any of those crazy questions you have in the beginning. They’ll be the person you turn to when you’re trying to decide if you should run even though you have a 106 degree fever (you shouldn’t). Or if it’s normal to be extremely sore after a race (it is). They should be there to push you and help you realize your full potential.
4. Accountability- Having an accountability partner- or a run group- keeps you motivated… and honest. Especially in the beginning when it’s hard to get the wheels moving. Joining San Diego Track Club was HUGE for me in turning this desire I had for years of being a runner into…. Being a runner. It’s easy to get discouraged and quit if no one knows what you’re doing and can’t cheer you on/motivate you. Get people in on your goal- they’ll be excited for you when you hit it!
5. Social Groups- There are many run clubs out there that make running FUN and make an entire social encounter center around it. I promise you when I was up in da club a few years ago (and not a runner or into fitness in ANY way) I could never imagine my social life including weekly meetups with runners… to run. Chances are your local running store has a good one you should check out. Two here in San Diego that are so much fun are Milestone's Hump Day Run Club and Frun Club. Check 'em out!
6. Apps- There are SO many good apps out there to put together a running schedule/ map your runs. I have a couple of friends doing couch 2 5k app- which is an awesome way to build in that consistency and get you in the direction of your goal. My favorite GPS tracking phone app was Runkeeper (now I tend to use my Garmin more) and one of my favorite apps to help put together a training plan is Run Less Run Faster.
7. SIGN UP!- You can plan for forever, but at some point you have to bite the bullet and commit to a race. That commitment in and of itself should put the fear of God into you and get you to stick to a schedule. And just so you know- when you are doing your first half marathon or marathon- you may feel crazy unprepared – but don’t worry- everyone does! Got to get the first one over at some point though. I went into LA Marathon with just two months of training and with a 17 mile long run as my longest – and I survived. So if you’re just a little more trained than that- I know you’ll be fine. ;-) Also- sign up with a friend- races are more fun together!!!!