For many of us, it can be really scary and a bit intense to think about moving more and making changes to improve your health and fitness. Maybe your goal is to start running, perhaps for exercise or even for a race. But, where do you start? How long do you run? How fast? How often? There can be a lot to think about, which can be quite intimidating.
Here are some tools and tips to help you get fired up about your new fitness lifestyle, give you a heads-up on where to start, and what to expect when adding running or walking to your routine.
1. Everyone Starts Somewhere
A lot of people may be able to run faster and longer than you and that’s OK. Don’t be afraid to embrace your current level of fitness, and focus on making incremental progress. Simply moving more than you were before is a huge accomplishment.
2. Find the Right Shoes for You
Make sure that the shoes you wear when walking or running are a good fit for you. Your shoes are your foundation—you don’t want to hurt yourself or experience unnecessary aches and pains that could be prevented with proper footwear. If you can get your feet and stride tested at a specialty running shop, go for it! If not, just be prepared for some trial and error until you find the shoe that suits you best.
3. Pace or Length, not Both
A big mistake that runners (of all levels) can make is to run faster and longer at the same time. This can be a recipe for disaster; I actually had to find this out the hard way. Make sure you choose a goal and intention for each run or walk: Are you going to try and go farther or faster today? Focus on one metric at a time so that you don’t overdo it.
4. Walk and Talk
Going for a walk, or even a jog, can be more fun with company. Maybe you want to move more but are still feeling a bit intimidated or you lack motivation—then bring a friend! Talking can make the time go by faster, make it more enjoyable, and can be a good time for you to catch up with someone you might not otherwise get to see on a regular basis.
5. Get a Training Plan
Don’t be afraid to seek out help from experts. Training plans are designed and scheduled in a way to help you safely start where you are, and get you to where you want to be. Whether you want to be able to run 30 minutes without stopping or conquer your first 5K, there are plenty of good tools to help you find your way to success.
6. Be Prepared for “Off” Days
Some days you won’t feel like moving—that’s totally normal. As with anything new, there are going to be some complicated times and days when you have more motivation than others. On days when you’re well and uninjured but just don’t feel like training, lean on your workout buddies, or show up at your local running shoe store for a group run. Your friends will lean on you when their motivation runs low, so they’ll be happy to return the favor when you’re in need.
If you’re feeling really run down and exhausted in addition to lacking motivation, take an unplanned rest day. Often, one day off provides the mental break you need to get back into training the next day.