Trying to get into running can be intimidating. I tried on and off for a few years to enjoy it, but I just did not have the right mindset. Whenever I was trying to lose weight I would force myself to run. When I took the body image out of it and added competition (races) into the mix, running became more enjoyable for me. It also became a huge source of stress relief, instead of a source of stress. Here are a few of my tips for beginners trying to get into running
- Define your reason for running – Whatever your reason is for running, be sure you have a clear defined reason. For me, it is therapeutic. When I am not training for a race, I run because it keeps me a calm, sane, nice person. I can run anywhere, which is great since I travel a lot – it helps me explore a new area. Races motivate me to change my running and push me to move faster and run longer. Maybe you are running for a new challenge, or to lose weight, or because it feels good. Whatever your reason, define it and be sure that it is a reason that will continue to motivate you, even when life gets tough/busy (because it always does). Choose a reason that will always be a priority for you.
- If you get to a point where running is no longer fun, take a break – Inevitably every summer I get to a point where I am not enjoying long runs, and I am forcing myself out the door. After about two weeks of this, I usually realize that running is not fun for me right now, so I take a break and focus more on lifting. Changing up your activity is wonderful for your body and your mind. If you force yourself to continue to do an activity that you are not finding fun, you will eventually resent that activity. If you take a break, you can rejuvenate. It will also force your body to work harder because it will be recovering from an activity it is not use to. Switching things up is great for fat burning, and for maintaining your sanity!
- Stick to running 4 days per week, no more than two days in a row – I have come to realize that in the excitement of starting something new, many of my clients will go from never running to trying to run everyday. While I applaud the ambition, more is not always better. It is important to let your legs recoup so you can avoid shin splints and other injuries. This will also keep you mentally focused and avoid burnout (mentally and physically).
- Sprint! – I cannot say enough good things about sprints. If you are running for weight loss, sprints will accelerate fat loss. Furthermore, sprints are great for increasing your speed and endurance while putting in less time of work. Be sure to move AS FAST AS YOU CAN when you do your sprints. You will be amazed at how much better your longer runs are, and how much faster you have the potential to become.
- Properly Fuel Your Body – I would say 80% of new (and some seasoned) runners that I come across fall into one of two categories:
- Severely undernourishing their body – In an attempt to lose weight, some runners continue eating a low-calorie diet while increasing their mileage. This will cause you to retain fat, and become sluggish in your runs
- Overconsuming – People in this category overestimate how much their body is burning post-run, or how much their body needs pre-run, and so they overeat. Not only will this cause weight gain, but it will also hinder your athletic performance.
I have been told, and run by this guideline, that anything under six miles does not require a change in diet. I continue to eat the nutrient dense foods I have always eaten, but I do not increase the amount. Further, I take care not to reward myself with food (I’m not a dog after all). If I have a longer run, I refuel with more calories of the same types of nutrient dense foods I normally eat. I avoid “diet” foods, and I avoid heavily processed foods.
6. Cross train – Since you are not running more than four days per week, this lends you time to do cross training. Cross training is SO important for injury prevention AND endurance. Even though you run with your legs, your arms and core are also working hard. Be sure to do leg exercises to strengthen them. This will prevent injuries AND help your speed/endurance. Additionally, adding arm workouts helps the endurance in your arms since you will be adding time with your arms being held at a ninety-degree angle while you run. If you do not have a gym membership, or want to avoid the gym, this is the perfect time to add in body-weight workouts! Think squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, etc.
Here is an example of what a beginner runner’s workout schedule could look like:
- Monday – Run
- Tuesday – Legs/Core
- Wednesday – Run/Sprints
- Thursday – Run/Legs
- Friday – Arms
- Saturday – Run