I have always loved watching people running. In the park, on TV, along busy NYC streets, you name it. Even when I wasn’t a runner myself I have always admired the people who knew how to run. I loved running fashion, running gear, runners’ strong and fit physiques, their trained hamstrings and ankles, but mostly I admired their discipline. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that one day I would run 26.2 miles. I knew, even when I never ever ran a mile in my life that that kind of discipline is something awesome to have. I just never saw myself as one of those people. So I just kept admiring. That seemed to be the right place for me. Watching people on a treadmill at a gym just made me feel completely and entirely intimidated. I usually would always sneak silently onto one of the Elliptical machines and start my so “always-so boring” gym routine. 20 minutes. Tops. Done. Can’t wait to leave the gym. That’s why most of the time I skipped the gym. For days, sometimes for weeks and sometimes for months. I thought there isn’t anything exciting enough for me in order to stick with it. Until, one day, not planned, out of the blue, I gave the treadmill a try. I was actually even feeling slightly embarrassed to give it a try. Who? Me? I thought the whole gym was watching (needless to say no one even cared or noticed). Then I just started walking on it. I never even knew this machine actually had an incline, but walking uphill was fun and kind of hard! Not my usual walking routine. I actually felt my glutes and hamstrings working. After walking on it for a while , I speed up a tiny bit. I have no idea to what pace, but I remember I wanted to run for 3 minutes. Then I went back to walking. Wow! I made it! I had to do it gain. I repeated that routine a couple times, before extending my runs to 10 minutes. I can’t tell you how proud I was of that achievement. The next few days I couldn’t wait to get to the gym. I was literally skipping! My first stop was the treadmill of course. I remember when I was able to run 30 minutes all the way-through (!). I remember my first 5 miles. I remember my first 6 miles. I look back at these beginning runs and they mean as much to me as my half-marathons or marathon. So give it a try. You might find gold.
How to Start running:
I personally feel that a run / walk approach is the best way to start running, if you never ran before.
You can do this routine outside or on a treadmill. 2 minute walk, 1 minute run, 2 minute walk, 1 minute run. Repeat this routine until you feel a bit tired. Maybe around 20-25 minutes. Stay with this pattern until it gets easy then move on to 1 minute walk, 2 minute run, 1 minute walk, 2 minute run. Repeat this routine until you can easily do it, maybe around 20-25 minutes. Set your next goal to running 5, 7 or 10 minutes through. Take a break and walk. As soon as you recovered, try to repeat that same time again, up to 3 times. Always focus on going back to running though. Learn to run comfortably until you begin to feel tired – take a walking break. Maybe that short run will only be 10 minutes, maybe even 20 minutes, the most crucial thing is the more you stick with the routine the faster you will be able to tackle longer distances. Go and take that walking break, but as you as you feel like you can run again, go for it and then walk again and so on and so on. Running is all about DOING. If you keep doing it your body will build the endurance and will get stronger – that’s the beauty of it. Don’t worry about the speed of your run. The fact that you’re running and you’re comfortable is what matters the most. Don’t worry about other runners who are faster than you. You are a beginner and you are trying something you’re body is not fully used to yet. Your own pace is what should matter the most to you. Your main goal is to get your body used to the motion of running. That’s not easy in the beginning, but you will be amazed how much it will feel like second nature once you established a running routine. So, RUN AT YOUR OWN PACE. After a few days or weeks, depending on your endurance of running/walking try to set attainable goals – try to run for – 30 minutes – 45 minutes – 60 minutes You have to teach the muscles in your feet and legs to run for the length of these times. This doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to run for an hour, you need to teach your body to move in strides and carry your body weight for an hour. Always remember that when it feels difficult in the beginning and you feel like giving up. Do not increase your runs by too many minutes, take small steps, you risk injuries and that takes the fun out of training. Set weekly goals. Try to commit to 3 weekly runs in the beginning. Building a consistency is essential in building lung and leg strength. Keep adding running days to your routine as you get stronger and more comfortable with your weekly runs. Focus on hydration throughout the entire day. Even as a beginner. You will have more energy during your runs. Even more than just drinking a bottle of water right before your run, which will only have you go to the potty but the your cells will not be hydrated enough and your energy will suffer. Keep drinking ounces of water throughout the day, it’s a great pick-me -upper! Breathing The other essential part of running is breathing. We all fear running in the beginning because we fear running out of breath and the famous side stitch. Ouch! Teach yourself to run at a slow pace where your breathing is nice and controlled and you could easily hold a light conversation during your run. While breathing make sure you are making use of your diaphragm, don’t breath from your chest. Use both, your nose and your mouth when breathing. Breathing through your nose alone would be too hard through your run. Don’t overdo it and keep the pace that allows you to comfortably inhale and exhale, whatever pace that might be. If you happen to get a side stich, try to keep breathing slowly through it and still keep moving until it disappears. If it is too hurtful than walk until it subsides and then continue running again. If nothing helps then stop running. Once you get stronger you will rarely get them. If you gasp or experience pain in your chest stop. Once you’re used to running a set time, you can start paying attention to your pace and mileage, either on a watch or on the treadmill. But take it easy in the beginning, the simple fact that you can run for a set time is a wonderful thing. Focus on that. Always make sure you are well hydrated, that’s always important. Are you ready to run a 3K or maybe even a 10K? Don’t let self-doubt or fear keep you from signing up for a race. If you can run these distances during your training, you can run them on race day, and maybe adding 1 or 2 miles. Go for it! Personal note: My first outdoor run was the Boston 1/2 marathon, Run to Remember 2008. I was only running on the treadmill to this point, but I always kept adding longer distances to my routine at the gym, to the point when I thought I could actually run a half-marathon. So I did. I signed up. I never ever ran outdoors before that race. I didn’t even know anything about proper race outfits or race preparation. I just showed up in my regular cotton t-shirt and black fashion lycra leggings, an outfit way too hot to run 13 miles in Mid May. But I did it and I finished in 2 hours and 2 minutes. That was my first outdoor run ever. What a memory. If you want to start running , your training terrain doesn’t matter. Just your will to put in the work does. Good results will happen and that’s a beautiful thing and a huge plus for your self-esteem.