I’ve been running for about three months now. Since I started I’ve been reading books, magazine articles, and blog posts targeted for beginning runners voraciously. Through that reading, and through experience, I have learned a few things …. here’s my list of takeaways so far … offered humbly to others who may be toying with the idea of taking up running.
- Before you run, you should walk. I walked regularly for a couple of months before I ran my first step. I walked because running scared me and I hadn’t lost enough weight yet to feel comfortable going faster. Turns out, walking was one of the best things I could do. I built up a base of mileage, strengthened my legs and heart, and developed a routine of hitting the walking/running path. If you have never run before, you should start off walking.
- Add to your miles slowly. Increase your miles no more than 10% per week. This may seem like slow progress to you, but it is the safest way to progress. Your heart will adjust to running long before you ligaments, tendons, and muscles will. If you increase too much too soon, you are at a greater risk for injury.
- It’s okay to go slow. In fact, it’s probably preferred if you’re in this for the long haul. Go slow, take plenty of walking breaks, and don’t worry about speed if you’re new to running. Again, ignoring this advice puts you at risk of an injury that will end your running hobby before it gets off the ground.
- Be consistent. Running will help you lose weight. Running will improve your health. But not if you only do it once every other month. For the last three months I’ve aimed for three runs a week. I’m just about to move to four.
- Rest intentionally. You’re not a slacker if you take a rest day between runs. You’re smart. Running can be hard on your body so take the time to recover.
- Don’t worry about how silly you look. None of the other runners care. Nine times out of ten you will get a friendly wave and a smile when they pass you. Those who ignore are probably afraid you think they look stupid.
- Drink pretty of fluids. Dehydration sucks.
- Buy good shoes, running shorts, and a shirt. A good set of running clothes is far superior to a cotton tee shirt, sweatpants, and your lawn-mowing shoes.
And most importantly …
- Have fun, relax, and praise God you are able to get outside and exercise. Plenty of people out there wish they could walk, run, and exercise. No matter how slow you are or how stupid you think you look – you are blessed.