Okay, so last time I wrote a kind of “checklist” of stuff to take care of before you even start running. So now let’s talk about the first couple times you go out to run.
Where to run: What I found worked best for me when starting out was going to the local rec center where there was an indoor track that was one tenth of a mile. Actually, first I started on the treadmill, but looking back I wish I had done the track from the get go. There are a couple great benefits.
- Worst case scenario, I could stop at any time without worrying about getting stuck somewhere far from home.
- I couldn’t use the weather as an excuse not to run.
- I’d paid for a one-month pass, and I wanted to get my money’s worth!
- It’s easy to keep track of how far I’d gone, particularly when doing run/walk intervals. (Two laps run, one lap walk, etc.)
- Unlike a treadmill, I had visual cues for how much further to go (around that corner, to that line, to that person who’s walking) before I would let myself drop to a walk. Oh my gosh, and lapping someone – even a walker – makes you feel so awesome.
- Remember how I said last time that running is a great laxative? Bathroom’s always really close.
If you do choose to run on a track, I’ve heard it’s good to vary which direction you go. Otherwise you could hurt one side of your body with the constant turning in the same direction. Don’t be Zoolander.
It will suck. I’m not going to sugar coat this. Your body’s going to protest. “What are you doing? I worked hard to store these calories! This is just wasting them! Come on, let’s go back to the couch. We can watch Mythbusters!”
Don’t expect awesomeness. If you can get out there your first time running and do a mile with no problem, well.. that’s just great. Aren’t you special. The rest of us, we’ll run one lap and drop to a walk, gasping. And that’s okay! Just like [almost] no one can play Chopin the first time they sit at a piano, you’re not going to be great at this.
Don’t quit. It’s totally fine to drop to a walk when you need to. Remember, we’re not training to be Olympians. The key is, when you drop to that walk don’t drop to a stop. Drop to a walk. Walk for a while. Walk until you feel like you can run again – even if that means walking for a LONG time. When you’ve rested enough while walking, run again, and walk again. You don’t have to run fast; most of the “running” I do should probably be called “jogging”. The problem I’ve made with trying to learn to run in the past is running only a short distance, feeling like a failure, and quitting.
Celebrate! You did it! You ran! Who cares how far you went or how fast you went? The point is, you did it! YOU! One of the hardest parts is just getting started. Take a bubble bath. Chill on the couch with an episode of Mythbusters. You’ve earned it. And this brings me to my next point:
Find a “yes man”. That is, find someone who will celebrate with you along the journey. Someone to whom you can say, “I ran a full minute before dropping to a walk!” and her response will be, “Wow, I’m so proud of you!” For me, this friend happens to be a person who is waaaaay better at me than running. But she never ever ever countered with, “That’s great, but you know how far I ran today?” After a while, we’d go out running and I’d always be the one to gasp, “Need! To! Walk! Now!” She never complained that I was slowing her pace, always content to go at what was best for me. Find one of these people!
Log it, or blog it. Some people keep a record of their workouts so they can say, “I need to do run this race at a 8:48/mile pace.” Blah blah blah. Know what? If you keep at it, you’ll get better and faster. Then you won’t have to calculate what pace you “need”, and be all the more excited when you find out that you ran faster than you did before.
No, what I found was the benefit in logging it was seeing how far I’d come. I can still remember the night I typed with great excitement that I had run 2.1 miles. Out of 3.5 total when you add in all the walking. Nowadays, that’s a super easy run. It’s amazing to look back at where I was with a sense of accomplishment.
I’ll be back with one more post with some more tips. But in the meantime I hope some of you might take the initiative to lace up the shoes and get out there this weekend. Remember: if you can’t run, walk, but just try to keep moving. You can totally do this!