Most people assume that they have to be in top physical condition to start running, but this isn’t the case. While it’s true that running can help you lose weight, strengthen your muscles, and build stamina, it isn’t inherently dangerous—as long as you take the right precautions. The most important thing when you start running is to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. Be patient and give yourself time to work up to your goals. Running doesn’t have to be intimidating or daunting—and if you follow these steps, it won’t be!
Don’t Make it so Hard on Yourself
It’s hard to get back into exercise and sports when it’s been a while, so don’t make it any harder than it needs to be. The key is being realistic about what your body can handle, and taking small steps that gradually increase in intensity. Let me tell you a friend’s story.
It wasn’t until her first child was born that she realized how much work having a baby really is. I mean, even before he was born, she had given up yoga for walking the mall—a big mistake! It wasn’t until after his birth that she remembered how important stretching and toning were to my fitness level. Plus, with all the sleep deprivation, an easy-to-take-care-of routine made things so much easier on her and the husband as well.
Do Something EASY That Gets You Moving
Take the first step. Literally. Start by walking for a minute, and then break it up into five-minute intervals. If the thought of going for a run makes your stomach turn, try a power walk instead or go on an easy bike ride around your neighborhood. Once you’ve completed your task, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. You did it! Take this positive feedback and apply it every time you want to exercise from now on–whether it’s in 5 minutes or after 16 hours–to make this habit stick.
Establish the Habits First
Luckily, it’s never too late to make a change. Start small. Try going for walks as opposed to running. Work your way up in distance and duration, and before you know it, you’ll be on your feet more often and might even like running after all!
When starting a fitness routine, think long-term. If you’re too hard on yourself and decide to run three miles every day from day one, chances are you’ll never stick with it. Make sure your new routine is sustainable for weeks or months at a time—and that it’s something you want to stick with for years to come.
Set Realistic Goals
When starting a new fitness routine, it’s important not to overwhelm yourself. When training for a marathon, aim for thirty minutes. It’s also good to start off gradually. For example, if your goal is twenty minutes at first, start by doing fifteen instead. Work your way up until you can handle the whole thing. After each run, congratulate yourself on what you accomplished and give yourself time to recuperate before tackling another one.
Listen to Your Body
You may want to ease into it, maybe even walk for a couple minutes. You don’t have to run the whole time either, just split it up as much as you can and try to mix up your routes so they get more difficult at different points. Gradually work your way up until you are comfortable. Try not to make excuses, such as I’m just not a runner. Your body knows how much exercise it needs and can handle before lactic acid starts building up in your muscles and making them too sore for use. It doesn’t matter what kind of physical activity you’re doing, if it’s on the right level for what your body is used to then chances are good that it will be rewarding and beneficial in one way or another.
Fall in Love With Running
Running is tough when you first start, but so worth it. There are a few tips that can help make the transition easier for you:
1) Get motivated. Set yourself up for success by picking a goal that’s challenging but attainable and committing to it in advance.
2) Get the gear. Make sure you have all the basics like running shoes, comfortable clothes and supportive sports bra. 3) Schedule time with friends. Exercise has many social benefits including accountability and motivation from others. 4) Don’t forget to stretch. Stretch your muscles before or after a run to prevent injury or soreness later on down the road.
Find a route that goes through the city. Seek routes with an elevation rise so that you get more of a workout than if it were flat. Try local parks, or your neighborhood. Plan on doing a loop so that you can do an extra bit at the end. If there are any hills near your house, run up them! Use headphones with music; as long as they don’t distract your hearing too much. Listen to songs with a steady beat, such as work-out mixes, pop songs or hip-hop tracks.
If you have a goal in mind, reward yourself with a gift after achieving that target. Many runners will celebrate their first 5k by buying a new pair of shoes or having their buns tattooed. It’s not just about the item itself though, it’s about feeling accomplished and proud of yourself for reaching your goals. Start small and set attainable goals that won’t be too difficult for yourself and reward yourself with something you really want after achieving it!