I “became a runner” when I was 28 years old. What I mean by “became a runner” in my case, is I upgraded my grade 11 volleyball shoes to some half-decent runners, started getting out there on a (fairly) regular basis, and signed up for a race to hold myself accountable. I also joined a clinic so I could learn stuff and not do it alone, and we trained with run-walk intervals. Prior to this time, I went for jogs here and there, maybe a couple times a year, usually hungover and dying, with the exception of one summer when I ran a local trail quite consistently to help myself deal with a breakup because sweating helped me feel more sane. I will tell you now, the more consistent you can be, the easier it gets and the more you will get addicted. Duh. But so good! Getting started is the hard part of course, as it is with most things that require effort!
Getting into running is simple and complicated all at the same time. It’s simple because all you really need (until you get addicted, hehehe) is a pair of running shoes, some clothing that is made to sweat in, a sports bra if you have boobs and a hair elastic if you have long hair. If you really want to know how far you go or what kind of pace you’re moving at, there are like a billion free apps to install on your phone, you don’t need to go get a fancy GPS watch.
What is NOT simple about it though, is that it’s HARD (forever) and a process that takes patience and a strong will. In the end, however, these things are what make it awesome. You’ll see.
I’ve been running and training regulary now since the spring of 2013 and looking back on the journey so far, there are quite a few things I can recognize that would have been really helpful to know at the beginning! There are tons of specific tips out there for sure, advice about gear, form, training plans, etc, but here are some of the more general things I would tell my former runner-self if I had the chance.
Warming up in some way or another is not only necessary, it will make your run WAYYYY BETTER!
Think about your heart. When you walk out the door at a resting or close to resting heart rate and then start running right away it’s like “SURPRISE MOTHER F#CKER!!! GAHAHAH WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP” and that’s brutal! And rude! Now think of your muscles. Cold. Rigid, maybe still sleeping depending what you’ve done so far that day. That’s mean, and unsafe. Do your body a favour (and your mind) and warm up because starting a run from ground zero SUCKS and makes it WAY harder and way more likely for things to hurt and injuries to occur.
Start with a dynamic warmup of some kind; at least a brisk walk until you start to feel warm and alive, or begin jogging at a pace that, for you, is ridiculously easy. And not for sixty seconds, think more like ten minutes. Ya, ten whole minutes. Leg swings, lunges, skipping, grapevine, backward jogging, high knees, butt kicks, gentle jumping jacks, you have a lot of options! Dance party??? I am not even lying, sometimes I just go into our bedroom and put on my music and pretend I’m in a Jimmy Falon lip sync battle. Minimum three songs. Do what you need to do, it will make the rest of the run far more enjoyable!!
You will definitely think it’s impossible
Yeah, I know…dammit! But ask yourself this question honestly: “why would I expect it to be easy or natural?” Do you do other forms of endurance training? Unless you are an avid cyclist, swimmer, rower or wrestler, just to name a few endurance sports, then your body probably isn’t conditioned to have its heart-rate jacked up for an extended period of time! Keep that in mind and give yourself a break. Start your running journey with run-walk intervals or at a pace that feels easy enough to hold a conversation. I realize you may be alone, but if you don’t feel like you could comfortably talk to a friend who was with you, or on the phone, then slow down or take a short walk break until everything feels more manageable. Once you finish your run, or walk-run-walk-run, take a sec and jot down how it went – what you were doing, for how long and how it felt. I guarantee if you keep at it and look back through your workout log in a few weeks you will notice surprising progress!
The first 10-20 minutes are almost NEVER awesome
I know. You warmed up like I told you to, and now the first couple kilometers still suck. I HATE YOU JAMIE YOU LIED TO ME. No, I didn’t. I’m telling you now that even once you warm up your muscles, lungs and heart, you still need to find your groove, your rhythm, your breathing rate. It’s just the way it is! Some days it will come easy, but most days it takes time. And not just at the beginning, forever. Accept it!
Approach each and every run knowing it will be a test of your fortitude
There are those days where you head out onto the road or trail and it feels like a dream and you’re running, smiling, thinking “damn, I am a RUNNER! I run the world! I am basically Meb Keflezighi!“…yeah that’s the exception run, not the rule.
Running is hard. You are exerting effort. If running were effortless, everyone would do it and you, the person reading this, wouldn’t be reading these tips and I wouldn’t be writing them down years after starting my journey but still finding them super relevant. So I’m telling you now, head out thinking about how you are about to face challenge and get stronger and more awesome. Don’t head out hoping that this is going to be one of those runs that feels like child’s play, you will likely set yourself up for dissapointment.
NO ONE is driving by thinking, “lol. Look at that wannabe runner.”
If someone does notice you, they’re probably thinking one of these things:
“f*ck I’m lazy. I need to do that.”
“f*ck I’m jealous”
“That sweaty, hard working, heavy breathing individual is so cool!!”
If you are taking a walk break, who cares??? People go for walks! People stretch. People go for speed walks with colour-coordinated outfits and 80’s sunglasses and sweatbands and headphones, there is nothing odd about a person wearing workout clothing and walking. Anyone driving by in a car is less cool than you are, in my opinion haha.
Running is the shit! You get to compete against yourself! Make hills your bitch. Sweat out a stressful experience from earlier in the day. Set goals and work towards them. Progress! Learn! Strengthen your bones, muscles, cardiac and respiratory systems so you can live longer and kick peoples’ asses at all sorts of fun shit in the future! You can do it any time. Outside, on a treadmill, on a trail, beach, wherever! If you have been thinking about getting into running or you’re just getting started, or if you’re back from a running hiatus, keep these things in mind and go be badass and prove to yourself that you can do it, one step at a time. I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!
Don’t forget to contact me if you have any questions!