Tuesday, May 15, 2012

One Foot in Front of the Other: Running for Beginners

In celebration of my one year running anniversary on Friday, I'm writing this post in hopes of everyone turning over new leaves to hit the pavement.

You say "I want to run." But you don't know what to do to get started. What gear do I need? What plan should I follow? Should I run with or without someone? How fast and how far should I go? All of these are legitimate questions, which I will do my best to answer.

"I want to run, but I don't know what to do to get started."

  • Honestly, you don't really need anything to get started. Just get off the couch and start. Walking out the door will always be the hardest part. Dust off your tennis shoes from college, put on a ratty old t-shirt and comfortable shorts and get outside to run. It's not about what you look like, it's about how you feel. If you feel like you should be exercising, honor that feeling and go exercise. You don't need anything special to start running. In fact, I highly advise you to try it before you buy any significant running gear because the costs add up. So really we could just stop here...but that wouldn't be much fun. So let's keep going. 
"What gear do I need?"
  • Get fitted for running shoes. I will preach this til the day I die. Shoes are the most important piece of running gear. They protect your feet. The options of running shoes are endless, and it can be overwhelming to figure out the best shoe for you. So go to a running store. Yes, a running store. Little Rock has two: Easy Runner and Go! Running. Seriously, the people who work there will analyze your foot as it hits the pavement, and they will fit you for a shoe based on what your feet do as you run. You will drop some serious change for a good pair of running shoes, but look at it as an investment in the sport and an investment in yourself. Get fitted for shoes. It's an absolute must. 
  • The Garmin 305 Running Watch with GPS changed my running life. This watch keeps up with your time, distance, best pace, average pace and calories burned. It also monitors your heart rate, and you can set it up for biking as well. This is the second piece of gear I would tell you to invest in. Garmin makes all different kinds of running watches, as does Nike and others. You can also get some pretty good apps to keep up with your time and pace so look into those, too.
  • If you want to invest in clothes, get moisture wicking clothes. The fabric will pull the moisture away from your body and help keep you cool (or warm) and dry.You don't have to spend a lot of money, although you might find yourself dropping cash on cute running shorts or a nice pair of socks. 
  • SPIbelt - If you are a weirdo-paranoid freak like me, I have to carry my phone and keys with me on every run. The SPIbelt will hold your phone, keys and any other thing you think you need to carry with you. 
"What plan should I follow?"
  • Starting out you don't really need a full plan to follow, just go run. My advice to new runners is start slow. Walk and incorporate running. You have to build up to running miles, otherwise you will shock your body. I used the Couch to 5K app on my phone to help me build up to running three miles. If you don't want to get an app,  warm up with a 5 minute brisk walk, just run for a minute and walk for two minutes for a totally of 20 minutes with a 5 minute cool down walk. Always stretch before and after. 
"Should I run with or without someone?"
  • Totally up to you. If you want to go on this journey alone, that is totally fine. If you are the type of person who needs accountability, I would suggest finding a running buddy. I like running with and without people. Some days it's better to be alone. Other days, I feel like I need someone there for extra motivation. If you get the nagging feeling like you should run but don't really want to, call someone and ask them to go with you. You will never regret a good jog.
"How far and how fast should I go?"
  • The number one rookie mistake: Starting out too fast and too far. You want to run three miles. Cool. But work up to that. Start out slow. Alternate walking and jogging. Don't sprint, jog. If you start to feel funny (like you're going to pass out or keel over), stop and walk for a minute or two. Listen to your body. 
  • Starting out too fast with a distance goal that is too far for you in the beginning will not have you feeling good about running. There is a possibility that you won't have fun with it, and the whole point is to have fun while trying something new. I'm not saying every day will be rainbows and sunshine while you run because it won't. Some days will really suck. And you may have more than one sucky day in a row. But don't give up. Once you get the feeling of a good run, you will run through the bad ones to get to those good ones. I promise it's worth it. 
Additional things:
  • Try to drink a lot of water and eat right. What you put into your body is the fuel you run on. So be aware of what you're eating and drinking, and take note of how it affects your body and your running. 
  • Sign up for a race. This is a sure fire way to motivate you to keep running. But remember to start slow. Sign up for a 5K, and work your way up to a 10k, then half marathon if that's what you want to do.
  • Remember the reason you started running, and keep it at the forefront of your mind. Always remember why you are running. Once you forget the reason behind your running, you won't want to do it. 
Who wants to run? 

Anyone want to run with me on my one year running anniversary on Friday? 


  1. Yay- Thanks for this post! I was JUST thinking "Dude, I totally need to go for a walk." I think the dog will be my accountability partner today. :)
    Happy weekend and still praying for Asher and your family!

  2. I was reading about your precious cousin Asher and stumbled on to your blog. Thank you for your postitive and encouraging words to folks you don't even know!! You have inspired me to get back to walking. A year ago I downloaded Couch to 5K and sadly quit before I ever got started. Thank you so much. Saying prayers for sweet Asher

  3. I'm so glad you are following Asher's journey! And I'm even more thrilled you are starting the Couch to 5K again! If you ever need any encouragement, I'd love to chat with you. Find me on Facebook or leave a comment on my latest post. I promise I will do whatever I can to help you out on your new journey!