Start Running Now: Our Get-Going Guide [Part 1]

New to running? Or starting to run again after a long layoff? This is the first article in a get-going guide on how to start running. Running seems to be pretty straightforward, but there's only one thing that's bothering you: if running is so simple, why do you have so many questions? You’re not alone.

Running Basics

Every beginner worries about how to get started and has many questions - about running shoes, how fast to run, how much to run, what to eat, how to avoid injuries. No problem. I am here to answer all those questions. Every runner started with a first step. You can, too.

How fast should I run? Should I change my diet? How will it feel? Will I be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Could I finish a marathon? All kinds of questions pop into your head. Trying a new activity like running can bring a certain level of anxiety, that’s true. Anyway, you should relax. Running is a great activity for anyone to try, regardless of age or fitness level. In this guide I will answer your questions — and tell you how to get started.

Man starting to run on a track

Why Start Running?

For one reason or another, you've made the decision to become a runner. This decision is going to change your life for the better in ways you never thought possible.

You’ve heard running good for your health, inexpensive, the best way to lose weight. You’ve got plenty of friends who run, and they are happy, productive, trim, and centred.

Running improves your physical health on so many different levels. It strengthens your heart and makes sure that your blood and oxygen maintain an efficient flow throughout your body. It reduces blood pressure, decreases your risk for a heart attack, and decreases your chance of heart disease and breast cancer. Running also strengthens your immune system and increases bone density.

As one of the most intense fat-burning exercises out there, running can help you lose weight - especially in the very beginning. When you run, you can burn calories efficiently in shorter workout sessions. I cannot brag about how I lost weight because I was already fit when I started running – I’ve always been practicing sports such as football, basketball, swimming, or dance sport in my teenage years.

Running is one of the cheapest ways to exercise. All it requires is a reasonable investment in a good pair of running shoes. You can run on a treadmill at the gym, through your neighborhood, or at your local park. Running while on vacation allows me to maintain my workout routine and also allows me to explore. While on vacation, I have found many really neat places that I wouldn't have found, if I hadn't been on foot! Believe me, do NOT stop running when you go on a holiday.

When you take up running you can choose to run for a cause. By racing you can help charities, which has always helped keep me motivated (by the way, last week I finished a 100k charity run and the next series will be on how to train and finish such a challenging race successfully). Feeling like I am running for something bigger and something that can help others has always made me feel good inside.

I can’t tell you how many amazing people I have met through running. Some of my closest friends are runners. On some days I run with a friend, and on others I run alone to enjoy the peace and solitude and to just work out the thoughts in my head. Which brings me to another amazing benefit of running.

Running has dramatically improved my stamina, overall energy levels and has helped me clear my head when things in my life become overwhelming. If the mental benefits derived from running were available in a pill form, trust me, we'd all take it.

Woman on a trail

Finding Inspiration

No time? No energy? Is it too hot/rainy/cold? Did the dog eat your shoelaces? Uh-huh. Make all the excuses you want. But get on with it, and go out and run. Most of these excuses are so real to people, and I do not diminish them. The best way to find inspiration and motivation is to concentrate on that one reason that brought you to running in the first place. Have a crystal clear focus, it works magic on motivation.

  • Keeping track of your runs

One of the most successful ways to stick to a schedule, diet programme, or exercise is to keep a written diary. Don’t go for sophisticated or fancy stuff. In fact, where you place the diary is way more important than what you actually write in it. Put the calendar in front of your PC or on your fridge, and write down each and every time you finish a run and how far you ran. Take pride in watching the miles build up. (Or just feel guilty when they don’t! That will get you out.)

  • Stick to it

Persistence is key to success. There are runners who set world records and win gold medals, but no runner has managed to complete a schedule entirely. You will miss workouts. Stuff happens, it’s life that gets in the way. As I said, the secret is to stay focused on your goal. Shrug off those bad days, get back on the programme, and achieve your goals. Remain persistent – this is a cardinal rule for improved running.

Now I’ve got a secret to share with you. Whenever you hit a plateau or get heavily discouraged, remember the amounts of effort and time invested in running and the progress you have made.

You wouldn’t like to go backwards. You’d like to putting in the miles towards the progress ahead.

  • Find a Running Partner

When I started running I was alone. No friends. I live in a small town so there were not that many people running three years ago. In the meantime I co-founded a local running club which counts over 50 runners right now, and managed to inspire others to run. But in the numerous books I’ve read along the way I found that most running coaches agree that the best way to stick to your running schedule is to find a training partner.

When someone is actually counting on you to as much as you are counting on them, it is tougher to skip a workout. The secret is to find someone of similar ability who is supportive, not competitive.

One or two partners is great. Three or four is perfect.

Woman running on a beach

Nutrition

I’ll cover this topic and injuries in the next part of this guide. Stay tuned! 

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