How to Get Into Running
Does the idea of running send a shudder down your spine? Perhaps you’ve given it a shot in the past and you’re wondering how to get into running in a way that makes you love it like many others apparently do. Or perhaps you’ve never tried it because you can think of plenty of other sweat-inducing activities that are a lot more fun.
But running offers benefits you won’t find anywhere else. So here are some ideas for helping you put your phone away, turn off your TV, slip on your shoes and head out the door to pound the pavement.
First Things First: Know The Benefits of Running
Before talking about how to actually get into running, it’s important to know the benefits that this method of exercise offers. Knowing just how great running is for your body is an excellent motivator for getting started. Here’s a look at some of those benefits:
- It improves your overall health. Running not only helps prevent cardiovascular disease later in life, it also releases endorphins (which contributes to a healthier mental state).
- It helps to reduce weight. Running engages your midsection and leads to a strengthened core. This ultimately helps you to lose pesky inches around your waist.
- It boosts your mood and alleviates stress. As mentioned, running releases endorphins throughout your body. When endorphins are released, it triggers positive energy and influences your outlook on life.
- It gives you confidence. When you run, you begin to feel good. When you begin to feel good, your confidence rises. In short, running helps boost your self-esteem.
- It leads to stronger joints. Yes, running helps you to lose inches around your midsection, but it also strengthens joints throughout your body. Just make sure that you wear shoes that offer enough support (find ideas for good running shoes for women), and definitely stretch to ensure you remain injury-free. Your body — and your joints, specifically — will thank you for it.
How Do I Get Started?
So, now you know the benefits of running. So how do you begin? Here are some tips for how to get into running that will help you keep up with it as a regular activity:
- Start slow. Do not try to go too fast or too far right away. If you’re a beginner, try taking it slow and walking for 30 minutes a day. Take a 30-minute walk around your neighborhood, walk your dogs for 30 minutes, or simply walk 15 minutes one way and 15 minutes back to your front door. (It can be that easy!) The more you walk, the more you build your endurance — which will ultimately help you get into running.
- Try the run/walk. If you’re comfortable with walking, then try a run/walk plan! A run/walk plan is simple — walk for 5 minutes, and then run for 2. Repeat 4 to 5 times to build your endurance even more. It might take weeks (or even months), but eventually your endurance will build and your runs will last far longer than just 2 minutes. Again, the key ingredient for beginning runners is moderation — never too fast and never too far. Start at a pace and you’ll find that getting into running is easier than you ever thought.
- Consistency is essential. Try to schedule your running/walking plans 3 to 5 times a week. Life gets in the way sometimes, and every single day can feel overwhelming — which leads to quitting. However, the more consistent and dedicated you are, the better you’re going to get. Make a mental note that you can do this. Plan it, get busy running and be consistent!
What About Injury?
Injuries. They’re a reality with any kind of exercise. But injuries can be prevented if you take the right precautions:
- Stretch, stretch, stretch! Bend down to each leg and hold the position for 10 seconds. Do a few forward lunges. And also do a few leg and arm swings to warm up your body. Your muscles’ stiffness will soon begin to disappear, which allows you to run more smoothly. If you skip the stretching, your muscles will be tense throughout it — which can lead to injury.
- Don’t push yourself too hard. Going too fast might help you finish quicker, but it’s not good for your body. Remember that no one knows your body like you. The “right” pace is whatever feels right to you. If you’re too sore or tired from the previous day’s run, give yourself a break and let your body to relax. The best way to avoid injury is to ease your body into each run each day.
- Build up the intensity. Get better on your non-running days with strength exercises. Strength exercises will help build your core, back, hips, ankles and other areas — which helps prevent injury during your runs. Strength exercises can include holding a plank position, lunges, leg lifts and hip raises. Each strength exercise you perform will bring you 1 step closer to injury-free running.
Don’t Burn Out!
Have you ever loved something too much? It’s totally possible to burn out on even the best of activities, as I’m sure you’ve discovered before. Here are some ideas for changing things up, keeping things fresh and avoiding running burnout:
- Change up your route! This strategy might seem like common sense, but it’s one area where many runners fail. Running the exact same route day after day after day becomes monotonous and can lead to dread when pulling on your sneakers. Changing up your route not only leads to a more stimulating experience, it also helps runners add more mileage.
- Take a hike! Literally, take a hike instead of a run on a random day. If you wake up and you’re not feeling the run (but you know you need to workout), switch it up by taking a hike instead. You don’t need to run during your walk, but it’s a great way to keep your body moving, to keep up your endurance and add more intensity to your exercise routine.
- Get social. Find a running buddy or a group of running buddies. Switch up your running partners, or keep one that helps you stay accountable to your running plan. When you have a running body, passing the many minutes (and sometimes hours) while on a run becomes far easier. Get a running body and say “hello” to increased and easier miles.
How Long Does it Take to Get ‘Good’?
As with most things, different bodies react differently to new activities and fresh routines. Because of this, it might take some people longer than others to increase their mileage. No matter how quickly you take to running, it’s important to stay encouraged. Here’s a look at some ideas for fighting off the doldrums that attack some newbie runners:
- Do not quit. Running leads to soreness, and some new runners get frustrated when they don’t see immediate benefits. But, just like with any activity, it takes a while to get accustomed to running and to see the results you want. Give it a month. Then give it 2. And, before you know if, you’ll reap the many known benefits of running. You’ll see your confidence grow right along with your endurance and distance, and you’ll certainly become more comfortable sticking to a rigid plan.
- Know your limitations. This is so important for new runners. Whether you’re in it for recreation or aiming to become a professional, you must know your limits. Stay in touch with your body, and be sure to push just hard enough to get better but not so hard that you sustain injuries. Distance running is truly a marathon, not a spring. Go at a consistent pace, be patient and enjoy the results. It will happen!
These tips are meant to help all new runners, but keep in mind that all bodies are different. Remember that no run is a bad run. Get out there, enjoy the activity, listen to your body and do what’s comfortable for you.
Train your body to go longer and longer, mix it up to keep things interesting, and you’ll be a real runner before you know it. If you need some equipment to help you get started, here’s our post on good running shoes for women, including a budget option that’s ideal for beginners.
Are you a runner? Be sure to let us know how you got into running by using our comments section. Or, you can always reach out to us directly using our contact page.
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