How To Start Running?
One step at a time…
Running is a great hobby, it is a beautiful way to lose weight, feel better, get back in shape, and it is an inexpensive sport. However, sometimes, starting a new running routine can feel harsh, especially if you are in your 40s (like me).
Yes, it can be daunting when you are first starting out, but it does not have to be, regardless of your age or your physical shape. Twenty years ago, when I started running, it took me months before I was ready actually to go outside and make my first running steps. Also, when it comes to injuries, I went through ALL possible knee and ankle pain. But back then, I was a total newbie runner, and young, today, after two decades of running on and off, I know better now.
Get Ready for Running
Are you ready to give running a try? Here we go…
Every time when I start running after a short or a long break, I make sure I have the following in order.
– Set a Clear Goal
– Get Comfy Shoes & Wear
– Running methods – Start out Slow
– Run Your Own Race
– Staying motivated
– Nutrition and Hydration – Find a Balance
Set a Clear Goal
It always helps to know why do you want to run in the first place?
With every new challenge, there will be an obstacle or two. But it will take determination, your own will, persistence and consistency to succeed. To succeed in your running journey, have a goal. Regardless of your reason why you want to start running, the absolute best way to keep yourself motivated to run is to establish a realistic goal. Your goal will differ from others, and that is absolutely OK. Your reason might be to lose X amount of weight during the X period of time, to get back in shape, participate in a 5-mile race, or merely to learn how to run. Whatever goal you have, big or small, make it realistic. Losing 30 kg in 6 months might not be realistic and not even healthy. But losing every month 2 kilograms, might not only be the super realistic goal, but it is also a healthy one, as well as it is motivating because you can actually see the progress at the end of each month.
The goal setting approach is something you’d need to have written down before you start your running journey. Without a goal, you cannot have a reality check. Without the reality check, you cannot follow the progress. Without knowing how well you progress, your motivation will quickly go down. To avoid this to happen, ask yourself, why do you want to run, what do you want to achieve and during what period of time. Mark your newly set running goals in your calendar or your running journal. And a fixed date will help you stay focused and keep you on a regular running timetable.
What to do? Write down a goal and the time you wish to see the results. Be realistic.
Get Comfy Shoes and Wear
We can all get fancy pants, but at the end of the day, all we need is good comfy shoes and comfortable ‘breathable’ clothes when doing sports.
Before getting into your running mojo mood, buy a pair of shoes, clothes that suit you personally, not too big and not too tight. Visit a couple of sports stores, ignore all the marketing fliers and ads, and their ‘what is hot and best sales talk crap,’ just get inside a store and ask for the running shoes or clothes. Try them on, if needed try every single item you like (I do it often 🙂 ), choose only that which fit your own feet and that which does not feel itchy on your skin.
At the shoe store, put the shoes on, jump up and down, run a few steps around the store, feel the shoes on your feet. We all have different feet, different weight and not only our feet are a different shape, but our toes are different sizes and shapes as well… and so on. So, as much as it is good to follow the latest ads by famous brands, focus on the shoes your feel right about. Many years ago I was so into what is the most recent and the hottest in the running shoe industry, that I forgot to listen to what matters most, to my body. As a result, I bought shoes which were looking great, super airy and light… but Instead of enjoying all the marketing benefits, my knees suffered greatly, when practicing for a marathon. Today, I just scan through the latest ads related to sports clothing and focus on what feels comfy to me.
This does not mean that your shoes are going to be cheaper nor more expensive. Whatever the outcome, be ready to pay for a good pair of shoes and clothes.
Currently, I have two of my favorite shoes I use when practicing, Nike and Reebok. When it comes to tops or running shorts, I love simple cotton T-shirts (I am allergic to fabrics which feel plastic), and I welcome all the material where my skin can easily breathe. As running shoes are number one priority, I tend to take time in finding the good ones. When it comes to clothes, I wear whatever I feel comfortable in. A favorite motivating tee and a pair of trainers always make a good couple for me. Fancy clothes is welcomed, but not a must to start my practice.
Running Methods – Start Out Slow
Whatever your fitness status is at the moment, allow your body to adapt and prepare for a new physical transformation slowly. If not well prepared, you may suffer from injury.
Which one is better, heel strike, mid-foot, or toe strike running?
This is entirely up to you to find out. Neither form of running is better than the other.
Should you run all the time or apply run-walk method?
Run the mile you are in.
At the beginning of your running journey, it is essential that you first walk-run to figure out what is the best position for your fit, body posture. You need to feel the body and feel how you feel inside the body when running. Your running experience can get tiring, but above all, it should bring you a specific type of pleasure, not pain. When it comes to pain, we all have it at some point, even when carrying heavy groceries. That is called sore muscles. Pain from sore muscles is OK, but another type of pain, like knee pain or ankle pain, toes pain and so on, it is something you want to avoid.
Also, if you are overweight, practice the run-walk method. This method is my favorite running method not only when I am slowly getting back to my running regime, after a long pause, but also when I am getting ready for a marathon or a more extended run. Here, the run-walk method is a terrific technique for new runners regardless of their fitness status,f as well as for experienced athletes because it allows muscles to recover from running; thus it will reduce the risk of injuries.
How long should you run for the first time, in a week? Run Your Own Race
I love to run early in the morning or late in the evening, three times a week. For me this a perfectly balanced fitness plan, especially when getting back to the running routine. So I make sure my calendar is cleared, and I do not schedule anything for that time.
– Train 20-30 minutes
– Take brief breaks when running. If you are like me, you may start out running for 20-40 sec then walk 1-2 minutes during your running session or until you catch your breath.
– Practice running two to three times a week. You can run more, but in the beginning, this is already a great achievement.
– On Saturdays or Sundays, run a bit longer, for example, have a 40-45 min run.
– On your off days’ rest or stretch
Remember, take one step at a time. Keep it simple and fun. Run your own pace and always listen to your body. If you start out with 20 minutes run, keep it that way until you find yourself running 20 minutes with no walking breaks. You will notice that in time your races will become longer and walks shorter. Once you are there, you will be able to add on more time.
Stay positive – Motivation Starts from Within
It is all in your mind, so stay positive. If needed, do not talk to anyone (even not to your best friend or spouse) about your new hobby. People are different, some angry, some jealous and the last thing you want is someone discouraging you with their negative vibes and words, just because they are not in balance (physical or emotional).
Keep it to yourself, remember where you want to be in three months and often visualize that same thought. Working towards your goal will motivate you to keep running. This is why at the beginning of this writings I mentioned to set a realistic goal. 🙂 Start small, accomplish it, then raise your bar.
Food, Nutrition & Hydration – Find the balance
I have got five eating rules when training or when practicing for a marathon race:
- Do not eat at least 1½ hour before training
- Do not eat 1 hour after the exercise
- Stay away from gluten type of foods
- Stay away from processed food
- Be 100% sugar-free (unless it is dark chocolate in front of you, indulge the treat :))
The reason is simple. I like to feel light when running. If I eat just before a run, I will feel heavy, and I will feel sick in my stomach. When it comes to gluten, I do not think my body needs it. Plus it makes me sluggish, slow, energy-less, and do I have to mention that gluten-rich food goes straight into my buttocks and waist. Do not want that either. 🙂 As you can guess, I especially avoid having gluten when I aim is to lose a pound or two (or, sometimes three pounds). I am then 100% gluten-free.
Sugar is ‘evil,’ so we believe at home, that’s why we all stay away from sugary products as much as we can, except for dark chocolate. I have it always in my fridge. Other than that, I eat everything else, except for meat. I do not eat meat. I have not eaten meat for over two decades now.
My diet includes all kind of veggies, fruits, and nuts. I am also a protein powder lover, so I often find myself mixing different type fruit or veggie shakes with maca root powder, spirulina, ashwagandha and so on.
My advice, when getting for a run, avoid eating anything an hour before running and 30 minutes to one hour after the race. After the practice, have a nice refreshing nutritional meal. If you run in the morning, I’d say, a substantially balanced diet consists of a combination of protein, carbs and fruit would be a great balanced meal. If you run in the evening, I’d go for a rich bowl of salad with veggies tossed with a grilled slice of fish or chicken. To get the full range of vitamins and minerals, introduce to your diet a variety of foods in their natural state and avoid eating processed food.
When it comes to hydration, water is the most essential drink. Gulping water down in large quantities in one go it will not do good. Rather, sip water throughout the day, every day, so that you are always well hydrated on the day of your practice. For shorter runs, you probably won’t need to take water out with you, but if you do then sip it slowly during your run. Always re-hydrate when you get back from running.
Run your own race.
Train with heart.
Be warned! Once you get the running bug, there is no going back. 🙂 It happened to me.