Before I learned how to run, I never thought I could be a runner. Every time I tried to start running (usually in the middle of the day in the summer), I’d get maybe a quarter of a mile down the street and have to stop to catch my breath. Luckily, I had a friend Meredith who convinced me that I could be a runner, and I have to credit her for completely changing my life by giving me the gift of running. I wanted to write this blog post for every person who thinks the same way I did so that hopefully I can change their minds, and hopefully their lives, too.
Important note: Always consult a doctor before beginning an exercise program to make sure you’re healthy enough and address any health problems.
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You can run slowly.
I think the number one mistake people make when learning how to run or training to run longer is going too fast. If you really force yourself to slow down and run slowly, you’ll be able to run much farther. My best advice is to focus on your effort: try to run at a speed where you could talk to a friend in whole sentences—that’s your conversation pace. Beginners should be doing all of their running at that conversation pace.
You can take walk breaks.
Before I knew how to run and started reading about running, I used to think that in order to be a runner I had to run continuously. For what seemed like a very, very long time. When I started to really read about running for beginners and running in general, I discovered that it’s completely fine to take walk breaks, especially when you’re learning how to run and building endurance. Many training plans for beginners, like Couch to 5K programs, use a run/walk system.
You don’t have to run very long.
You can even start by running and walking for 15 or 20 minutes, then slowly build the length of your workout. The key when learning how to run is to find where your starting point is and to work from there. Maybe you work up to walking for 20 minutes, then add in 20 or 30 seconds of slow running here and there. As you increase the number and length of running intervals, you’ll gradually build the time you’re running, and eventually you’ll be able to run for 20 minutes. Before you know it, you’re a runner!
You can stay strong mentally.
Our minds tell us to quit before our bodies need to stop. Unless you’re in real physical pain or distress, you can usually push a little longer and go a little farther, even if it’s just for another minute or two. (If you are in actual pain, not discomfort, definitely stop what you’re doing.) When learning how to run, it takes a while to learn how to push through discomfort, but learning to do that allows you to train to run longer and longer distances.
You can choose a goal that will motivate you.
Every person is motivated in a different way. Some people are motivated by having a race on their calendar. Someone else may be motivated by promising him or herself a new running outfit or pair of shoes for hitting a fitness goal. What’s important is finding out what motivates you, then planning your goal and reward based on that goal. The biggest thing you can do to learn how to run is to figure out how to stay motivated. If you stick with it, you’ll be a runner before you know it!
Runners: Have any great tips for beginning runners?
What was the biggest thing you learned when you started running?
Newbies: Any questions about how to start running?