There is a man that runs around my town all of the time carrying himself with no evidence of being tired. You may see him out at the park running and/or while you are putting your groceries in the car at the store. He may be on his 8th, 10th, 12th mile and still be going fast enough to beat you in a race while you are given a bicycle to race with. There are these sorts of people that have the stamina to run like that; then there are the sorts like you and me. It seems as if there is a struggle for every mile, ½ mile, or even just the next tenth of a mile hoping and praying that we see our stopping point in the short distance. It’s different for everyone, but what is consistent is that there are people who are just learning how to run and have no idea what to do first. This is where I want to help. I am not an aged runner. I am still a rather new runner but running is growing on me everyday. Four weeks ago I fractured a bone in my ankle area and my love for running was not known until I was not able to run. Take the following pointers as you will. These suggestions and ideas are only from my experience as a trial & error runner.
Be Disciplined. Becoming a runner takes discipline. To push through the pain, obstacles, and mental games that we play on ourselves takes discipline. It is more than just putting one foot in front of the other. Taking the steps is the physical part, but for me, it is by far not the hardest part. Focus your mind. There are times when my mind tells me to quit because my body “can’t handle it”. I push and my body handles it. The mind can be persuaded. Set your mind and control your actions. Let everything you do be with purpose.
It's okay to be slow. In the beginning of each year, loads of people want to get their life back on track and lose the weight that has set them in the shadows. Many, as I have in the past, think that they should start out by running. As good as running is – an overweight person with no experience in running should not be running that much or hard. It is something to be built up too. Being slow does not mean that you are not working hard or that you are not successful; it simply means that you are slow…for now. Continue moving forward and you will build up to a run. It will happen.
Get a good pair of running shoes. It would not be a good idea to take out your snow boots and decide that it’s time to go for a run. It simply wouldn’t. Running can be very cheap or very expensive. It is financially what you make of it. You do not need to have a gps, heart rate monitor, iPod chip, arm band, pedometer, and/or a pair of sunglasses. These are awesome tools to improve your running, but the one thing that is essential is a good pair of running shoes. Running can be hard on the joints and when you take into account the past sedentary life that you’ve lived – it can be extra hard on those joints. Good shoes are essential to alleviate the discomfort that those love handles may be causing.
Map out your route. Do you want to set yourself up for a success or failure? If you would rather have the failure as an overweight beginning runner – strap up and start running. A person that is focused to go no where will end up no where. An overweight person that is successful in running takes the time to plan his/her route. There are a few reasons why I think this is good.
1. You've set a goal in how far you are going to go.
2. You have a record of what you've done and know how much you've improved over time.
3. It's easier to be motivated when you can see the end.
Accountability. Find some form of accountability. Personally, I use the blogosphere for accountability and encouragement. Find a buddy to walk with, talk with, and to get fit with. Some of the best relationships come from people first starting out as accountability partners. Set a goal to strive for. When you have something in your sights – the focus is stronger, mind is clearer, and your desire pushes you. Keep yourself accountable and success will soon follow.
Pace Yourself. It will do you no good if you can run a 10 minute mile only to be followed by a 20 minute second mile. Find a solid rhythm that you think you will be able to hold for a specific length of time. Stick with that pace and keep moving. We’ve all heard it before, “slow and steady wins the race”. As many faults as that saying may have, it's not about winning the race right now - it's about becoming healthy and a solid runner.
Enjoy yourself. Do everything that you can to make your running enjoyable. I enjoy riding my bike as well, but in the beginning it was not fun. The seat was uncomfortable, the path was not visually pleasing, and I’d ride so far out that I didn’t have enough energy to make it back without stopping. I found myself having many “rest” days simply because I did not enjoy it. That changed though. I used every opportunity to make riding my bike enjoyable. I got a better seat. I found a new route. I worked my way up to longer routes.
It’s the same with running. Find your stride. Focus your mind. Try new things. Do not settle for anything less than what you want out of running. Running is just one avenue to the healthy lifestyle, but it can be an experience like no other.
Enjoy a life of running instead of settling for a run down life.