How to begin with running?

I was having a huge exam in med school in my 3rd year when I went out for a run to clear my thoughts in the night. I never stopped running since then.

There’s something about running alone in the night, those moments full of introspection that suddenly become addictive. You go for a run, and then for another one. Weeks pass and you become another person. Today I will share a few ideas with you, hoping that I will convince you to go out for a run and make it a habit.

What you can learn from my story

Running can change your life. It can make you better in all aspects of life – it can make you fitter, healthier, stronger. It can help you clear your mind and, the most important thing of all, it can make you more challengeable and gives you a huge desire to live, win and be a better person.

I remember the first time I went for a run alone. I was 17 and I almost managed to finish 1 mile. I didn’t have friends or acquaintances that used to run. I had to start from scratch. I just felt I needed to change something really big in my life so I started running.

At first I asked myself a lot of things like “how fast should I run?”, “how will it feel?”, “what is going to be like to run more miles?” or “can I actually run more miles?” and “how is it possible for someone to RUN 26 MILES?”

How did I actually start?

I used to run a specific route in my neighborhood. It had about 1.2 miles. Then I felt that running kept me in a formidable shape, it kept me healthier, stronger and made me a better person. I started crashing my personal records. Then I googled for half-marathons and found one. The idea seeded there until made me sign up and start a real training schedule. Instead of saying “ugh, today I have to run”, it became “I wonder how fast I will run today”

That’s how I began. That half-marathon kept me motivated. I was actually living to finish that race. And I did. I never stopped running after that. Running a half-marathon is now my weekly training. It’s something you cannot express only with words.

I never thought I would actually finish a marathon. A full marathon. I’m now in my 5th year of med school and I’m an ultra - marathoner.

A little history

Let me tell you a secret – every healthy person in the world can run a marathon. We were born to run. Our ancestors used to run over 80-100 miles to catch the prey. They actually chased the impalas for miles until they couldn’t bare it anymore and crushed them with the bare hands. That’s because we are the only mammals in the world that cool while running.

No animal in the world can do that. That’s our biggest advantage. And we used this aspect for hundreds of thousands of years to eat. We ran to eat. Now we have technology and escalators and cars that do the job for us. Men are getting weaker instead of getting stronger. Obesity levels are really high – for both men and women.

That's why I started running. We have no purpose for which to live and fight. People have no more sense of risk and adventure. We get into the car, use the subway escalator and elevators for 2nd and 3rd floors. Everything has become too easy and too handy. When I realized that, I knew immediately that I was living more intensely when running and pushing myself beyond pain.

 A little history on running

How to start - Running basics

I suggest you start training for a marathon. It’s that simple. However, before attempting to run one, aim for something shorter, but still a challenge. It’s called a 10k or a half-marathon and you can finish it with less than 3 months of practice even if you are a novice. You see, running is not hard at all. The potential is entirely in you. You just have to practice.

It’s like walking, just a little faster. 

There are a few obstacles that people hit when they want to start running. Some of the ideas that pop into your head sound like the ones below:

  • Running for 20 minutes is overwhelming
  • I need to buy proper shoes before I start
  • I’ll look really stupid because I’m out of shape
  • I hate running but I’d love to run
  • Running is boring

If you didn't achieve something you strive for - you simply didn't believe in it enough - Mario Novak

Let me tell you something. Running is simple. Your either get your ass off the couch and do something good for you and your life or stay there and whine about how bad life is for you. Successful people and runners are made of sweat and pain. You have to actually WANT to start running. You have to live for it. It has to become addictive. Only that’s when it’s gonna become a habit. 

 How to start - Running basics

The first steps to begin with running

Step 1. Plan your schedule

The schedule and sticking with it are the most important parts in your training. Start walking at least 3 times a week for about 30-40 minutes before starting the schedule. That’s the warm up for what’s gonna come next. Use MyAsics for your schedule. Just sign up, select your goal and hit the road. I used it for most of my half and full marathons and it does a really great job. Choose 3 runs a week. That’s the best choice and leaves your body time to recover.

Step 2. Run short distances

Aim for 1-2 miles. Be careful to avoid injury. At first, run slowly and increase the pace and distance gradually to 3 or 4 miles. Warm up for at least 5 minutes before running (knee lifts, quick running, stretching, toy-soldier walking). Run comfortable. These runs will gently work your muscles needed for training.

Step 3. Get over fatigue

You will get tired in the first 500 meters. I have to be sincere with you. Running a marathon is extremely exhausting, especially if you are a novice. You need to train your mind and body, you have to short-circuit your impulses that say you have to stop. You will feel a lot of pain while running, but you have to go on. Get a reward from that pain. Sometimes when I feel exhausted I imagine myself being a Spartan soldier going to war. That gives me an extreme boost of energy. Think about such things and finish your race. You can walk, but don’t stop.

Step 4. Read about successful runners

Read about how they did it, how they trained, read about their mindsets and implement that into your activities. This can get you really motivated.

Step 5. Run larger distances

Aim for 5-6 miles. Everything is hard in the beginning. But once you are able to run 6 miles you actually taste the benefits of running and it’s not that scary anymore.

Step 6. Run everywhere

Running will interfere with your vacation or other plans of yours. Run everywhere. You don’t need a gym or a park to run. Sometimes it’s even cooler to run on the beach, for example.

Step 7. Stay motivated

Sign up for the marathon. Watch a motivational movie. Tell everyone about your plan to finish marathon. When you say something in public, social pressure forces you at an unconscious level because you can embarrass yourself if you don’t manage to reach your goal. Read, plan, test, run. Think about your plan all the time.

 

Step 8. Don’t delay your workouts

Respect the schedule. Sometimes you won’t make it. The secret is to go further and don’t stop.

Step 9. Buy proper equipment

Proper running shoes are needed for a good run, especially for one longer than 3 miles. Some random shoes will do the trick in the beginning, but then you will have to buy special equipment. Depending on where you are running, also buy running glasses, running t-shirts, jackets or running tights. But keep it simple – you only need to run. Although these things like equipment make you fancier and make you feel like a real athlete, they only come last.

Start running now. Not later, not tomorrow. Now!

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