I’ve been running intermittently for a year and a half now and I’ve learned a few things along the way. While I may be incredibly slow (I average a ten minute mile) and quite sporadic (I usually take the entire winter off because Iowa/Wisconsin winters are hella cold), at least I’m relatable. Hopefully my tips will reach out to those people who don’t know what energy gel is and could never imagine running a marathon (I’m with you).
1. Decide what distance feels good for you and don’t compare yourself with others. I like to run 5K (about three miles) at the most. Sometimes I get so discouraged by friends who run 10+ miles that I give up on myself. I quit running. My theory is this: running = good; not running = bad. Even if it’s just one mile – even if it’s just the length of one song – get out there.
2. Talk to other runners to get help and encouragement. I started running because I had a boss who did. She introduced me to barefoot shoes, told me it was okay to run a mile that took longer than ten minutes, and helped me see how running can help you get out in nature and learn about your community. I probably wouldn’t have learned these things from a magazine or blog. Try to develop some runner relationships.
3. Choose a do-able race and do it! Six months after I started running I signed up for a 5K race with a friend. The next summer, I ran the Bix. It was super-fun to actually complete a race and participate with hundreds of other runners. I did sign up for one other race, but I got lost on my way there and ended up crying in an alley in my car as the race started. And they never refunded my entry fee. So try not to do that.
4. Buy yourself some decent clothes. When I first started running, I didn’t believe in myself enough to actually spend money on “running” clothes. So I ran in old tennis shoes, ratty men’s sweatpants, and wife-beaters. Nothing wrong with that. But my confidence and excitement about running improved immensely when I bought my first pair of barefoot running shoes, a few sassy running tees, and some cute shorts. I find some things at Goodwill and other stuff for cheap at places like TJ Maxx and Marshalls. It’s not necessary to drop hundreds of dollars at Lady Foot Locker or The Nike Store. Although that would be fun.
5. Download MapMyRun. If you have a smartphone (and you like to run with it), download the free app MapMyRun. I love this app. It tells you how far you’ve run and what your pace is, and it creates a GPS map of your route. If it weren’t for this app, I probably wouldn’t run. I like to continuously be able to check my progress.
Now go for a run! You might like it more than you expect.