Does something inside of you want to try one of those couch-to-5k programs but you’re absolutely convinced you can’t do it? Or that it’ll be too much torture?
Have you tried to run but feel like it’s never going to get easier?
I tried for months and couldn’t really build more than a mile until I tried all of these tips and little by little it started to get awesome….
1. Pace Yourself
This was the biggest help for me. I kept burning out before or around a mile because I was always running my fastest. It was always my lungs, not legs, that felt like they couldn’t go on. Bill and the treadmill helped me see that if I started slowly and kept a steady pace (with the help of a GPS watch or running app) I could stretch that one mile into 1 1/2 or 2 pretty easily. Even though I felt embarrassed about how slowly I ran, it was helping to build up my endurance and distance. Then the speed came too.
The more regularly I ran the 1 -2 miles, I found that 2 – 3 were possible, and then 3-4, etc. Running about 3-4 times a week makes all the difference in the world in making it feel easier and building distance. Be patient with yourself — this takes time! (At least it did for me).
3. Building Leg & Core Strength
The stronger these parts of my body get from working out in the weight room or other exercises, the faster I’m getting and the easier running is getting. It feels AWESOME!
4. Get the Right Shoes & Replace as Needed
Apparently people’s feet strike the ground differently when running, and there are different types of shoes that support that. Other factors, such as the amount of arch in our feet, also mean that different shoes are needed. I went to a store where they observed me running on the treadmill and walking across the floor to determine what type of shoe I need. I wear a “neutral” shoe, which means I basically run with my foot straight and even. Some people might roll their foot in or out, so they need a shoe that stabilizes that.
Shoes should be replaced (they’re supposed to last a 300-400 miles) because you’ll likely start to feel knee or joint pain from the support wearing down.
5. Tie Your Shoes Right
This is one of the things I scoffed at for awhile. Bill told me to tie my running shoes very loosely. I thought that was preposterous. I’m a girl and I know shoes. If they were too loose, I knew that they’d be sliding up and down the back of my foot and giving me blisters or falling off. But when I started running further and more often, I noticed that my feet were feeling numb or tingling. I tried his shoe-tying idea and no more numbness.
6. Figure Out What Type of Weather You Run Best In
No one could be more floored than I am that I like to run in cool, even cold weather. It shocks me. I don’t like anything about cold weather except apparently this: that I can run in it better than in any temperature above about 60° F. Especially out in the open if it’s very sunny. I love the sun and warmth at all times except when running, because I seem to overheat very quickly and the sun seems to drain all the energy out of me. So I run in the morning or evening during the summer and magically I can go further with much less drama 🙂
Which brings me to:
I can’t give you the medical calculation for how much you’re supposed to drink per mile / hour of running (search the internet for that) but it is very important and does make a tremendous difference to your energy level. Especially in the sun and heat. So read up on the recommendations and add that to something you try before deciding you’re not a runner. There are lots of different types of bottle holders available now, including waist packs and backpacks.
8. Nutrition & Timing of Eating
This was another factor that made all the difference for me, and since every body is not the same I can’t tell you an exact formula but I can tell you it’s something that can make running feel either torturous or positively pleasant. Bill doesn’t eat before he runs. I can eat before a fitness class or weigh-training, but I found that if I eat sooner than 1 1/2 – 2 hours before running, I feel HORRIBLE. Heavy, weighted down, sloshy stomach. So for example, before the 5K and 10K races I’ve done, the only thing in my stomach was coffee (the races have all been in the morning). When I run on any average day, I don’t run until about two hours after eating, and I have more energy when that food includes healthy carbs. When I get home, I refuel happily with a balanced meal or snack.
I unlocked this little treasure all by myself. Here’s the thing for me: it’s not about background noise. It’s about the pace. I was a dancer and majorette for many years, and after trying to run for awhile I discovered that if a song is playing at the exact pace I’m running, I run to the beat and cadence of the song – just like dancing. My brain has something to focus and lock on to, and it takes my mind off of how bored, tired, thirsty, or annoyed I might be. This might not be a magic bullet for you – I actually read an article where a runner suggested you NOT listen to music so that you can focus on your body while you’re running. Personally, when I was starting the last thing I wanted to focus on one iota more was how completely and utterly miserable my body was feeling.
Audio books are another idea, but I don’t think I’m there yet. I still need the beat to keep me on pace. They might work great for you though!
10. Alone or With Others
I found that running with someone else at first was almost vital. Again, I was looking for anything to distract me from how hard it was. Running groups with pacers are a wonderful help, especially when just starting out. It frees you from having to pay attention to that, you just run with the flow. I found out about the running groups in my city on the internet. Also, if you start to run and/or volunteer at local 5K’s or other races, you’ll likely find yourself drawn into a community of runner friends. But maybe you would love some time to clear your head and think. Or maybe you don’t know anyone who runs. (*Yet). Try different ways and see if one clicks more.
So what do you think? Please let me know if you try any of these and how they work! I’d also love to know if you’ve found other great tips!