Step 1: Be willing to walk before you run
Being willing to walk can be exceptionally difficult. It sounds like walking is easier than running, and while that may be true physically, it takes a lot of mental discipline to hold yourself back.
The number one goal when you are starting out is to create a habit of exercise. When you start too fast, with too much, too soon, you increase the risk for pain, injury and burn out.
All of these factors lead to less consistency and the risk of losing motivation.
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If you prefer to use your own plan, make a commitment to yourself to start with walking.
I highly recommend a walk/run method for all levels of runners.
Even experienced runners can benefit from incorporating walking into their runs.
Adding walking to your running reduces fatigue, increases recovery time, reduces stress on your body and often increases your speed.
When you’re beginning – start with just 10 seconds of running for every 50 seconds of walking.
Step 2: Determine when and where you will run
Determining when and where you will run/walk is critical to establishing lasting success.
Action triggers (deciding in advance to execute a specific action when you encounter a specific situational trigger) are powerful components of creating new habits.
Research shows that setting an action trigger around specific behaviors can more than double your chance of success.
Instead of saying, I’m going to exercise more, it’s much more powerful to preload the decision of when/where/how you will make that happen.
For example: I will run/walk through my neighborhood for 20 minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays after my first cup of coffee, before I shower.
This type of preloading gives your mind triggers to start the action. The mind recognizes the first copy of coffee and the shower and registers the decision to run between those two.
A recent meta-study looking at 80 studies with more than 8,000 participants found that the typical person who set an action trigger did better than 74% of the people on the same task who didn’t set one.
Step 3: Pace
Pace is one of the single biggest factors that will determine the quality of your run/walk experience.
There’s no universal pace you can run with the guarantee of feeling good.
You can’t run my pace. I can’t run yours. It’s personal. It’s important. Run too fast, you’ll run out of steam and be exhausted. Run/walk too slow and you’ll bet bored and feel stagnant.
It’s more common to run too fast for your ideal pace then it is to go too slow. Remember, there’s no such thing as too slow. You’re lapping everyone on the couch.
Pace is an art, not a science. It takes practice. It’s better to err on the side of caution. Start slow. You can increase your pace as you go, but if you start too fast, it’s very difficult to recover.
Step 4: Shoes & Gear
At the initial phase of running, this step is less important than you might think. I’m not saying there aren’t benefits to having the proper shoes and gear – there are.
But a basic supportive, athletic shoes with a pair of shorts or loose fitting pant with a t-shirt will get the job done.
The most important thing is starting, even if that means making do with what you have.
In the 1960′s canvas running shoes were standard issue and people still ran.
Don’t let having all the right gear become an excuse for not starting.
It often takes experimentation with different shoes to find the ideal one for you.
The best thing you can do when you buy a pair of running shoes is to go to a specialty running store to get one-on-one customized help and fittings.
The sales associates at the running store will watch how you run to determine the biomechanics of your foot strike.
Many specialty running stores will also let you run or walk around the block so you can get a more accurate feel for how the shoe fits while you’re in motion.
I know it can be intimidating to head to the speciality running store, but keep in mind, most people who work at these stores are passionate about helping beginners get started.
Most experienced runners love the sport of running and love to share it! They are there to help you. They can make the experience fun and informative. And they can help you wade through all the choices to find the best shoe for you.
How your foot hits the the pavement is the most important consideration when choosing a pair of running shoes.
Runners fall into three categories:
- Pronators (who’s feet roll in when they run/walk)
- Supinators (who’s feet roll out when they run/walk)
- Neutral (who’s feet stay neutral when they run/walk)
Fit is more important than technology.
Your running shoe should be snug but not tight. You’ll often go up 1/2 a size to a full size compared to your normal or dress shoes to get the optimal fit.
Ultimately, the comfort of the shoe has the most impact on the quality of your run. Research by biomechanics expert Benno Nigg has shown that runners are less likely to suffer injuries when the choose running shoes that feel most comfortable.
There’s a lot of talk right now about barefoot running. I personally believe that most runners do better with shoes. We’ve been moving in shoes for most of our lives and our bodies and muscles have adapted to the support of shoes.
Should you pursue a barefoot running shoe, I advise you to do it cautiously and slowly transition.
You should replace your running shoes every 400 to 500 miles.
What you wear when you start out is less important than you might think. The essential thing is finding running/walking clothes that are comfortable and keep you adequately warm but not hot. A cotton t-shirt and shorts are fine for most runners. Don’t let your choice of clothes become a deterrent to starting.
When it comes to what wear, there are three important things to consider:
It’s important to pick weather appropriate attire. A good rule of thumb is to dress in layers and dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer outside. Once you start moving, you’ll warm up.
Here’s a helpful guide for picking the amount of layers to wear:
-20 to 0 degrees (F): 3 upper body layers, 2 lower body layers, gloves and hat
10 to 30 degrees (F): 2 upper body layers, 1 lower body layer, gloves and hat
40 to 50 degrees (F): 1 upper body layer, 1 lower body layer
The comfort of your clothes can make or break your experience. When you’re worried about your shorts riding up or uncomfortable because of chafing, it’s hard to enjoy your run.
When it comes to comfort use this checklist as your guide:
-Does it ride up?
-Does it bunch?
-Does it chafe?
These are the three biggest causes of discomfort. Before taking a new pair of shorts or pants out for a run, walk around the house and see how they feel when you’re moving. This will give you a sense for how they’ll feel on your run/walk.
This is the least important part of picking out what to wear. There’s a lot of focus on moisture wicking technology designed to keep you from feeling wet with sweat.
While this technology can increase comfort, it isn’t essential. Cotton does hold water, so if you sweat a lot, you may consider a moisture wicking shirt to increase your comfort. Luckily, these can be found relatively inexpensively at stores like Target & Kohls.