Have you ever heard someone say, “Running is fun,” and thought, “You’re a liar”?
Two and a half years ago, I couldn’t run around my block without feeling like I was going to die so whenever I heard someone say that running was “easy” or “fun”, I’d demanded to know their secrets! They’d shrug and say, “It just is!” Defeated and annoyed, I started to believe that in order to be a runner, you had to be born a runner. Three marathons and 10 half marathons later, I now understand that some people are in fact born runners, but others are made.
I’ve come to think that running might be the most convenient way to stay active. With the health and mental benefits of running ranging from strong cardiovascular health to bulletproof self-esteem, it’s no surprise that a record two million Americans ran half marathons last year. But how does someone who isn’t a runner become a runner? How can you possibly go from hating running to having fun? I know from experience that it’s not easy, but it’s absolutely possible! If you’ve ever wished you could become a runner, here are eight tips to help get you started:
1. Get a Training Plan.
Does the idea of running make you cringe? Grab your smartphone and go download the ASICS Runkeeper app RIGHT NOW. Whether your goal is learning how to run your first 5K, maintain a basic running cadence for fitness maintenance, or running a particular distance, the Runkeeper app can help. I never would have become a runner had I not found the Runkeeper app during my first few days of running. It makes running easier because it does all the thinking for you. All you have to do is press start and take off.
Editor’s note (8/9/21): Need a boost of motivation or want some company as you run? Check out the newly added Guided Workouts feature in the Runkeeper app. It’s like having a personal trainer and companion in your pocket!
2. Expect the Expected.
Will your lungs feel like they are on fire? Yes. Will your legs feel like lead? Yes. Will you curse the day you ever decided to start running? YES! Just remember that with every painful step, you’re also getting stronger! Don’t get intimidated, frustrated, or annoyed when running gets tough. Change lives in discomfort, right?!? Expect the expected.
3. Set Small Goals.
The key to getting started as a runner is to focus only on the workout that’s at hand. Take things one step at a time. Set small attainable goals every week so you have something tangible to work towards when the going gets tough. Like Journey once said, “DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’!”
Editor’s note: You can set up goals (there are 4 types to choose from) and check your progress in the Runkeeper app.
4. Walk It Out.
That’s right; I just gave you permission to walk. YOU’RE WELCOME! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and becoming a runner doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to get to a point where you’re able to run without feeling like you’re going to pass out. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere. With each passing week, you will get stronger, and before you know it, you’ll be running further than you’re willing to drive for a carton of milk!
5. Go Slow and Don’t Compare Yourself to ANYONE.
It’s normal to run slower than a snail moving through peanut butter! Stop worrying about how slow you run. You can’t compare your effort, mileage, or pace to anyone else’s! Remember it’s all about taking things one step at a time: A six-minute mile and a 16-minute mile are both a mile.
6. Establish a Routine and Plan Ahead.
Becoming a runner is much easier when running is part of your daily routine. Take 15 minutes every Sunday to sit down with your training schedule and your calendar so that you can pencil in when you’re going to run. If you know you’re working late or have certain obligations on some days, plan for success by planning ahead.
7. Make New Running Friends.
One of the best ways to have fun while running (don’t roll your eyes at me; it’s possible!) is to run with other runners! By joining a running group or finding a running buddy, you create a vital support system. They know what you’re going through, will distract you when everything hurts, and can hold you accountable when you want to hold back. You can find people to run with by joining a charity team, asking local fitness stores about running groups, Googling local running clubs, or just investigating via social media. (Don’t worry about being the slowest runner there. Groups accommodate all different paces.)
8. HAVE FUN.
Make it a point to have fun every time you go out for a run. Smile when you feel like crying, dance when you hit a red light, and run with someone who makes you laugh. Getting started isn’t easy, and more often than not, you’re going to have to figure out a way to make it worth your while.
You don’t have to be athletic or in shape to become a runner. All you need is the motivation to put on your shoes and get out the door. Whether you want to lose a few pounds or prove to yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to, you can become a runner as long as you are willing to take that first step.
So what are you waiting for? Take that first step. Become a runner today.