Being a beginner in any aspect of life can be both terrifying and exciting. Whether you’re on your way to your first yoga class, your first day of college, or your first track practice, being the newbie is never easy. Looking back, there are a few things I wish I had known before I began my running journey. I compiled here a list of things I think are the most important when first becoming a runner. These tips can also be applied to other physical activities. I hope they help!
1. Quality Over Quantity
On my first run ever I decided I was going to run three miles because that’s what my dad did and I wanted to be like him. Living on the outskirts of Las Vegas, I was not prepared for the hills or the heat that was to come. One mile in I quickly realized the mistake I had made. Turning around to walk home, I felt defeated and confused. I thought I was young and in shape, why is this so difficult? My advise is to start small and work up. First try to run one mile (or however many your capable of) without stopping. It is important to build your endurance by continuing to run without needing breaks. Next, before adding distance, work on speed. Once you can solidly run 1-2 miles at a good pace without breaks, then start to add distance.
2. Take are of Your Body
I think any runner who has been at this for a while has ran into some sort of injury, especially a stress related one. The most common injury beginning runners encounter are shin splints. I certainly have had my share of shin splints and stress related injuries throughout my running career. The easiest way to avoid injuries as a beginner is to warm up with dynamic stretches and cool down with static stretches. Ice baths and massages are also very helpful. The best way to avoid injury is to not do too much to fast. Running 8 miles on your first day is a sure way to leave you with shin splints. And finally and most importantly, listen to your body. If something is aching 3 miles into your run, it is your body telling you something might be off.
3. Find Something That Motivates You
I think we can all admit getting out the door is the hardest part of any run or workout. Find something that helps to get you excited to get outside and run. Running buddies are always a great option because they hold you accountable. One thing that motivated me was putting my running goals up on the wall so I would see them every morning when I woke up and every night before bed.
4. Be Easy on Yourself
As I mentioned earlier, listening to your body is so important in this sport… easier said than done, of course. The more you progress the harder you get on yourself. I know runners who are so exact that if they set out to run 6 miles, they wont stop at 5.89, they have to run exactly six (I know because I am one of those runners). If you’re sick or tired or just aren’t feeling it that day, it’s okay to slow down or stop. It is just one run. You have the rest of your life to have a better run (I am honestly quite hypocritical writing this, because to this day I still have not fully learned this lesson). But with all the injuries I have encountered over the years, I can tell you that if something is hurting it is better to stop just one run early than to finish that run and be out for a month.
5. Enjoy It
Seriously. Running is great. I am so happy you are starting this journey. Starting out can be challenging but the long term benefits are SO worth it. Not only is it great for weight loss, endurance, and physical health, but it is also great for mental health. If I ever feel foggy brained or stressed from a long day of studying, running is the best way for me to clear my mind. Like any habit, give it a few weeks and it will become easier and more routine. And of course, if you want any more beginner advise please ask me!