Maybe you’ve thought about it, seeing how it feels for your legs to move light as air, traveling distances and covering ground with your own man made engine propelling you in a new direction. Running is a sport that challenges your mental endurance while demanding a total body effort from your head to your toes. Or maybe the thought of your feet clobbering down arthritis inducing asphalt, getting continually passed by the exhaust of the metro route, and smelling like a combination of stale sweat and snot stains is the last thing you want to try.
The interesting thing about running is you don’t have to pay a monthly fee or make the A team to try it. You just need to step outside and go. Because of this I think that everyone should give some form of running a shot, no excuses. The other interesting thing about running is how vehemently against it people can be. After spending much time working for an active lifestyle store you would think I just offered to saw someone’s leg off by asking the simple question “Are you a runner?” This question elicits a fierce response that people feel the intense need to justify with phrases “oh no way I would never run” and “are you kidding me, only if I’m being chased.”
Somehow running culture has convinced people that they need to be competing in multiple marathons, while monitoring their heart rate, in correlation with being in tune with every aspect of their body. Every sport has different levels of commitment from the die-hards running hundred milers to the rest of us who simply want an excuse to enjoy the outdoors. Consider how you could introduce running on whatever level of commitment you are willing to handle. If you have ever watched someone bound down the sidewalk in blistering heat and wondered why, something about running has caught your eye. Below are a few simple ways to try running RIGHT NOW without the expectation that you need to go enter your local 5k to stay in the club.
Gail Devers a retired three time Olympic gold medalist in track and field offers amazing advice when she said “every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” So why not give it a try?
Find a friend: When you have a partner holding you accountable, whether it is for fitness or general health, you will be more motivated. Running can be an amazing form of alone time, but sometimes you just need someone to spill a days worth of thoughts while jogging through a workout.
Walk fast(er): The good news about running is that you don’t have to be tearing it up at a 6 minute mile pace right of the bat, or ever if you don’t want to! All running really entails is a faster walking motion. If you are exceptionally hesitant to give it a try, see how power walking feels first.
Eat for the future: One of the greatest things about using your own legs as your source of fitness is that you will be in tune with your body in a whole new way. This means that if your legs are the tires you need to consider what kind of fuel you are putting into them. Checking your diet for all of the necessary nutrients can make you feel as super human as the best marathon runners.
Figure out what you like: So running up that hill was a really traumatic experience that you don’t care to deal with any time soon, and that’s okay! Find routes and routines that work for you. If you are a hill hater I can safely say that you are not alone. Like any new experience, take it one step at a time (literally!). Avoid an overwhelming experience and find a comfort zone, once the zone starts feeling too comfortable step outside of it.
Join a training group: This is similar to finding a friend but on steroids. No matter what city you live in, your local running store should have training groups for all levels. Read into a group that sounds like what you are looking for and give it a shot. Bonus **chance to make amazing runner friends here**!
Prepare for pain: You will wake up sore in places that you never knew existed and it is normal. Any new workout will challenge muscles that you normally don’t use. With running you are using elements of your body from head to toe, I have found that yoga is the best remedy for tight hamstrings, and overall mental wellness.
Track progress: Nothing is more exciting than when I plug my watch in and see the miles add up. Whether you have one of the thousands of fitness tracking apps, or use a pen and paper, you will feel incredibly rewarded when you are able to look back and see the amazing progress that has been made. Write it all down, even that time when the hills got the best of you. Looking back on struggles can be a huge motivator!
Adjust expectations: Maybe you try it and hate it. Maybe you found your workout soul mate. No matter what, go into running with an open mind. Know that you won’t be on Ryan Hall’s level on day one. There aren’t many workouts that give you an entirely different experience every single time. Embrace the unique runner that you are and see where it takes you.
Set a goal: You may be entertained by running laps around the park for a little while, but eventually you will find passing the same swing set for an hour can be mind numbing. When you are bored and have spent more time watching peoples dogs…erhmm…relieve themselves…than you have developed as a runner, you probably won’t continue this new interest much longer. Set goals to keep moving forward.
Don’t be a fair weather fan: It’s like cheering for the Cincinnati Bengals, just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you suddenly get to donate your running shoes.
Get the right stuff: It’s no wonder why you have never liked running, you are still wearing the same running shoes from high school. Getting fitted for a pair that is specifically suited towards your gait and stride can be a huge motivational factor and hopefully a rewarding investment (see your local running store for suggestions).
Have any other motivating tips on what helps you get out there and run? There is no single formula for everyone, but trying to add a little run in your life will only enhance your workout experience. So why not give it a try?