Thank you to those of you who left your stories on the last post. They were great! Love it.
And shame on those of you who didn't. It is not too late....
Unfortunately, running is not something we decide to do one day, and then we go out and run a marathon. Oh, how I wish that were true.
The cold hard truth is that running begins one step at a time. And no, it is not easy.
I have been running distance since I was 18 (I will be turning 29 this year), and I have had to start a running routine over again 5 times since then. I am talking starting from scratch.
Because I am sure that illness, pregnancy, circumstances, or whatever, will once again force me to end what I love for a chunk of time, and then start all over again, I have devised a system that I use to get back into running. I call it my start up phase. I consider it the hardest phase with running.
Before starting up a running program, or an exercise program, you have to accept one fact. You have to accept it, and you have to be willing to work through it.
It will be hard. It will be fun, worth it, and addicting, but at first, it will be hard.
If you can't accept this, it probably is not a good time for you to begin running.
Once you have accepted the fact that it will be hard, then it is on to the next step. Setting a goal and writing it down. Without a goal, it will be very easy to quit. You need a goal. Sign up for a race, set a weight goal, set a mileage goal, set a pace goal, set a goal of exercising to a certain date, whatever it is, just set a goal.
Once you have accepted that it will be hard, and you have set a goal, it is time to get the proper running clothes. Running in jeans and everyday work out shoes will not cut it folks. You need a good pair of shoes (check previous post to learn how to pick good shoes), and you need flexible and good running clothes. Music is always nice too.
Now that you have the goal and the equipment, it is time to start. Set the time you will go running, and don't budge. Sure, you will be tired, or THE tv show is on, or you want to relax, or the weather isn't perfect, but no matter what, go running at your set time. Don't get into the habit of letting things get in the way. It is a very hard habit to break. Instead, get in the habit of working around your running schedule. If you really want to do something, you will make time for it. Think about your life and what you are willing to cram into it, if you really want to. It is all a matter of priority.
Now you need to decide where you will run. At a gym on a treadmill, outside, at home on the treadmill, or a little of each. I will be doing a post on outside running vs. treadmill, but for now, just do what is most convenient for you.
Once you are at the gym, on a treadmill, or on the road, warm up. DO NOT STRETCH COLD. I repeat, DO NOT STRETCH COLD! Warm up for 10 minutes before stretching, and then go ahead and stretch. You can warm up by walking fast, doing jumping jacks, jumproping, or whatever. Just warm up before you stretch.
Once you are warmed up and stretched, start jogging. It's as easy at that, just start jogging. Don't expect to bust out a mile without any problem. It will take time. Remember...it will be hard.
The best thing I have found when I start running is to set times. For example: (if I am on a treadmill) I will run for three minutes and walk for one. Repeat this for 30 minutes. If I am outside, I will bring a watch and time it, or you can run past six houses and walk past two, or something like that.
Once this starts to get easier, move up a bit. Run for 5 minutes and walk for one. Or, run to the blue house, and walk past the red one. Once this gets easier, bump it up again. Pretty soon, you will run the full 30 minutes or the full route you are on. It make take two weeks, it may take a month. It doesn't matter, as long as you are improving.
STRETCH after every run. This is the time to stretch. Take time and do it right. The best time to stretch is when the muscles are all warmed up. Drink a lot of water and stretch after each run. It will make a big difference in your recovery.
If anything starts to hurt when you are running, pay attention.
There are different kinds of hurt however. There is the side-ache, the sore muscles, the lower back ache, and the normal aches and pains of running. Those are not reasons to stop. Slow it down a bit, but you are ok to continue most likely. Those should go away after a week or so.
Sore bones, a particular muscle that is screaming, knee pain, or anything like that, means that you should back off a lot, or stop for a while. I am not a doctor, but I would say that those should be looked at.
The first week or so you will be sore. Ice, stretching, drinking lots of water, Advil and pushing through it would be my advice.
So there you have it. Everyone is different, and I am not an expert, that is just how I start up running. I have had to start from scratch 6 times since I have been distance running. Every time, it is hard at first, but oh, the results are very worth it. There is nothing like getting back into shape, reaching goals, and being healthy.
To sum it up...
Accept that it will be hard...but very worth it.
Set a goal.
Find a place (home, gym, road)
Get the right equipment.
Stretch (a little before and a lot after)
Drink lots of water
Stick to it. The only way to improve is to keep at it.
Oh, and one thing I didn't mention. Three days a week (at least) is a good goal for running, if you want to maintain. Four, or more, days is good if you want to improve a lot. Enjoy!
Anyone out there have any other tips, tricks or advice to starting up a running program? Feel free to comment!
Next up: Food to some, fuel to others.
(food for everyday running, food for long runs, food during runs, etc)