I started running in my second year of university. Before that, I was playing competitive soccer and field hockey, but when I didn’t make the university field hockey team I was heart broken. I have to say that it was a blessing in disguise. I made so many friends that first year that I would never have met had I been playing on a varsity team, and I had the pleasure of indulging in a real first year undergraduate university experience! Maybe I indulged a bit too much because during the summer straight after first year I realized that my fitness had plummeted. I couldn’t run more than a block without gasping for breath. Too much first year fun! So, I started walking. I walked home from work, I walked to the grocery store and carried my food home, I went out for regular walks with friends and soon enough I was starting to walk and jog short distances. But the thing that really got me off the couch and into running was inspiration, my big sister. I was at my dad’s place one evening when I walked past a picture of my sister crossing the finish line of her first marathon. Her arms and legs were lean and strong, she was mid stride and she had the biggest grin on her face. At that moment I thought, “I want to feel as good as she looks”, and I signed up for my first half marathon.
Even if you aren’t looking to run a half, or a 10km or even a 5km race I can tell you that running makes you feel alive! If you’re looking to start running, congratulations and welcome to one of the best and most supportive communities worldwide!
Get a good pair of shoes! In every city or town you should be able to find a local running store, and let me tell you, the people who work in that running store want you to come in and have a chat. Runners like nothing better than to talk about running; running shoes, running routes, running clubs, running races, personal bests etc. They are the gurus of the running community and they will get you fitted into a great pair of running shoes.
Don’t be afraid to go slow. When I first came back from traveling Australia and Asia, I wanted to get my fitness back on track immediately. I didn’t want to ease myself into things so I got off the plane, grabbed my running shoes and did my 10km route right away. The next day my calf wasn’t feeling so great and I went to the doctor who told me I had pulled a muscle and that I was going to have to slow down and do some physio. Great, I wasn’t even back a week and I was already injured! So I did just what the doctor said, and I went back to my jog/walk days. I started slow and built up from 2 minutes running with 1 minute walking to 10 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking until I was fully recovered. Being injured is not fun so don’t be afraid to go slow!
Grab a buddy. I always ask people to go for a run and I often get the response, “You’re so much faster than me”, or , “I’m too slow to run with you”. The fact is, I don’t care what level you’re at, I just want someone to run with me, as long as I’m getting out of the house and moving I’m happy. Sure if I’m training for something and I need to be on pace I might do my run solo, but chances are that there is someone out there who is interested in running with you! Jump on google and find out if there is a run club that goes out running once a week, call up a running store and ask them if they can help you find a run club (remember runners love talking about that stuff) or talk a friend into starting running with you so you can keep each other accountable.
Write it down and tell people you’ve started! Keeping yourself accountable is important and by writing down your running days and your chosen distances you will be more likely to get out and do it. Likewise, by telling people that you have started to run you are more likely to stick to it. When your friends and family members ask you about it you can proudly speak about your progress 🙂 Make it part of your weekly plan to write down your running days in your planner or put a reminder in your phone. Trust me, it’ll keep you going.
Race. Do it, sign up for a fun race! The color run is a great starter run because it brings out every type of runner. You’ll get a cool shirt, a story and bunch of like minded people around you!
Have fun and welcome to the running community!