After years of wondering what drives all those crazy people to go running, out of free will, you’ve finally decided to join the club. Having made the decision, you’re probably even feeling quite motivated! This is when it’s easy to get over-excited and fall for the trap of doing everything at once.
Why? Because most of us want to see quick results, preferably after the first run.
However, going from zero running to 10 km at once might not be the most optimal way to start. In fact, it’s probably the fastest route to injuries and overtraining. Luckily, you can prevent such outcomes and save yourself a lot of pain by following these 7 simple tips.
1. Invest in Proper Running Shoes
As a new runner, one of the most tempting ways to boost your motivation is to shop for flashy and trendy sports outfits. This is all fine, however, the most important gear investment you can make is in your running shoes.
After all, they are the ones that will be bringing you forward. Depending on your running speed, you might perform as many as 150-180 steps per minute – this is a lot of total impact force. In order to determine which type of shoes that suits your unique needs, ask for advice from a specialist at a running store. The staff should be able to analyze your running style and pick out the right pair just for you.
2. Start off Slowly
Even if you initially just want to get out there and run as fast and far as you can; the effect of such an approach is likely to result in more bad than good. Starting off too hard usually leads to lactic acid, which makes it hard to continue both physically and mentally.It could also cause injuries that keep you off the running track for weeks or even months.
Not the kind of start you want, right?
So, what you should do instead is to follow a beginners’ running program where the number of workouts and intensity gradually increase.Although the progress might be somewhat slower, it will help you to avoid overtraining and prepare your body to perform long-term.
Don’t panic if you don’t see instant results or if you sometimes get a bit stuck; that’s normal. If you are patient, your reward is just around the corner.
3. Make it Happen!
No matter what equipment you buy or how many inspiring articles you read; you are the one that got to do the work. One of the most crucial factors to succeed when you start running is to establish a routine.
Sometimes life gets in the way and you might not be able to exercise for as long as you had planned to, then take a 10-15 minute run.
This is much better than skipping it completely. The more you put it off, the more mentally though and distant it becomes. Embrace bad days and realize that not every single workout has to be perfect – because it won’t. You don’t always have great days at work, but you go there and you finish it. The same goes for running and exercising.
4. Add Variation
If the beginning phase is all about getting into the habit of running, the next step is to start adding some variation into your routines. This is required to overcome plateaus or prevent stagnation in your progression.
After a few solid weeks of running, challenge yourself and your body by:
- Running on different terrains such as grass, dirt, tracks, concrete, or asphalt
- Trying some new forms of running such as intervals or fartlek
Minor changes such as taking a new route, running in the woods instead of the streets, or mixing fast and slow phase will benefit both your physique and endurance.
5. Get Sufficient Recovery
In the beginning, running three times per week with one-two day’s rest between each session is a great way to get started.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Rest Run Rest Run Rest Rest Run
If you have a lot of muscle soreness and need an extra day of recovery from your running, exchange it with another activity such as cycling, swimming, or brisk walking.
Besides from this, the most optimal rest you can get is to aim for +8 hours of sleep every night.
6. Have Realistic Goals
This point should not be mistaken for having low goals. If your aim is to run a marathon in the future, that’s a perfect goal – and you have every opportunity in the world to accomplish it. With that said, a great way to actually get there is by setting up micro goals along the way.
1) Turn running into an enjoyable routine
2) To be able to run 5 km
3) To be able to run 10 km without resting
And so on.
Check them off. One at a time. This will make your progress more tangible and help to keep your motivation high.
7. Focus on what you’re doing well
Okay, to be honest, there will be moments when your motivation won’t be at the top. You’re going to question what you are doing and wonder why you are out running in the middle of the rain.These mental barriers are inevitable. However, by staying focus on your long-term goal and reflecting on what you already have accomplished, you can push through them.
A simple way to keep track of your progress and remind yourself of what you are doing well is by documenting. Write down your starting-point (distances, duration, feelings) and update it weekly. After a few weeks, you’re going to be able to see a massive difference between day 1 and week 5. Be proud of your efforts and celebrate those small victories. You’ve earned them.
Then get back to work and keep improving!
- Invest in proper running shoes – this should be the most expensive gear that you buy, go for quality; it will pay back
- Start off slowly – give your body time to adapt and increase the workload and intensity progressively
- Make it happen! – a 15-minute run is better than zero minutes
- Add variation – after you’ve been running regularly for a few weeks, mix up your routines to keep yourself challenged
- Get sufficient recovery – rest at least one day between each session and try to sleep +8 hours every night
- Have realistic goals – create micro goals that will keep you motivated towards your main goal
- Focus on what you’re doing well – document your journey so that you can keep track of your progress and achievements
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mattias Johansson is a Nutrition and Fitness writer, a personal trainer that applies latest research to optimize performance and help you excel.
Here are some highlight of Mattias Johansson’s qualification.
*Specialized Sports Educator
*Physical Education Teacher
*Bachelor of Sports Science & Psychology at Halmstad University. Courses included: Applied & Social Psychology, Sports Psychology, Cognition, Motivational Strategies, Exercise Training, Anatomy & Physiology, Nutrition, Scientific Methods
*Studied Advanced Studies in Sports Medicine & Nutrition at Linnaeus University. Courses included: Nutritional Recommendations for Performance Enhancement, Nutrition & Diet Analysis, Client Collaboration, Supplements, and Athlete’s Diet
*Sports Science & Management at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 11th World Ranking. Courses included: Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, Conditioning for Physical Fitness, and Principles of Strength Training
*International Nutrition & Fitness Copywriter