Growing up an uncoordinated kid in an athletic family was annoying. My mother was an amazing basketball player, my dad an all-star baseball player, and then there was me. I tried sports but I just couldn’t get “my head in the game.” So in seventh grade I picked up a pair of Nike running shoes and I was on my way to discovering the sport that would change my life.
Ever since I was younger, I would just go out for long runs to clear my head and relax. I know what you’re thinking…RELAX? How is that possible? It is possible. Running has become more of a time of meditation to me, it’s a time where I can think through life decisions, goals, etc.
People always ask me how they can get started. Whether they want to lose weight, or just gain the passion for running that I possess. It can be exciting and scary if you don’t know what to expect. So I have compiled a list of essentials that will help you get started.
The easiest way to motivate yourself to start running and actually stick with it, is to find a 5k and not only register, but pay for it. You do not want to waste that money by skipping the event, you also do not want to look like you’re unprepared on race day. Find a friend to train and race with you. I would suggest at least giving yourself 3-6 months before race day to give you time to prepare. You don’t have to race to win, just to say you did it!
In order to perform well with any sport you need quality tools. Shoes will be the make or break. No you don’t need the most expensive, just the most durable to prevent injury. Buy yourself some new shoes (Nike is always my favorite) and go show them off on the running trails.
3. Picking a workout
This is the start of it all. Pick the mileage you are looking to run a week. I would suggest that if you’re beginning start with running 2-3 times a week. Putting in 10-15 miles. It’s important to let the body adjust to your new routine and not throw it into shock, so ease into it. If you’re feeling good with your workouts try adding an additional mile to each run. If you’re struggling (which is completely NORMAL) keep your mileage consistent for two weeks then increase by 5 miles. This will help your body start adjusting and if you keep the routine IT WILL GET EASIER!
It’s so important to track your runs and times. These stats are not meant to embarrass yourself, or to show to the world, but to keep record of your improvement. You can do this manually by keeping track of date, distance, time. Or you can download one of the many applications that track all of it for you. I use Nike Running Club (NRC), along with many great features, this app allows you to add friends and you can use this feature for a little friendly competition (nice if you don’t have any local running friends). One of my favorite features on the NRC application is the “Cheers,” by lynching with your Facebook account you can share with your friends that you’re on a run. During your run when your friends like or comment on the update, the NRC app will start cheering you on during the run…pretty cool.
I have SO MANY playlists (thanks Apple Music). Some days for the longer runs I listen to more chill, alternative. Other days when I have a faster run planned I put on the hip hop, rock, pop, etc. So build a few playlists that will motivate you to keep going.
Water is your friend. If you’re thirsty…drink it. However, don’t over indulge because you feel like you need to, over drinking water can be just as harmful as not drinking enough. I would encourage to bring a water bottle with you on the run (especially if it’s hot and you’re a NOOB).
In school, they would always make us touch our toes, and all the stretches that sometimes would overstretch the muscle resulting in an injury. Instead, try dynamic stretches (high-knees, butt kicks, etc). Stretch before and after your run…it will not prevent soreness, but it helps.
Running form is always a sight to see. Everyone has their own way of running and that’s OK. Obviously, you want to try to be upright, and have good posture. Don’t clinch your fists to tight. Work on maintaining a steady breathing pattern (practice breathing through your nose and out your mouth). It’s always been a popular saying to run on the soles (not too much on your toes, not too much on your heels) of your feet to prevent injury, but in my years, people tend to injure themselves more by trying to run differently than they are used to. So just use your best judgment, I tend to run on my heels so I just focus on having a lighter foot.
9. Want to lose weight?
So running can in fact help you meet your weight loss goals. However, you will also notice that with all the calorie burning you will start getting hungry a lot more than normal. So be healthy and try to not to over eat, or under eat (runners need their carbs). Running for weight loss can be more effective if you look into interval programs. If you can run for 30-45 minutes and consistently lower and raise your heart rate you will see the calories evaporate. “Running for Weight Loss” (go figure) is a good app that will tell you what to do, and when to do it during your interval workout.
10. Have fun.
I know to most of you running may sound daunting, but it really can be a lot of fun. So put on your kicks and clear your head and go for it!
Run Forest, run!