Recently, a Facebook friend posted a status with the question of “how do I start running?”. A question I contemplated while out on my long training run this morning. I’ve been running since 2007, mostly shorter distances and launched into longer distances in 2009. Even with several races under my belt and mileage in the hundreds I am by no means a guru or expert. It did get me thinking about what got me started and kept me going.
First, consult your doctor. This has reasons beyond a legal consequence, but usually if you’ve been sedentary or haven’t been in a while, you really should start there. You may discover something that will help you with your training. For instance, through blood work you can find out if you are low in iron, vitamin d and other essential vitamins. Properly treating that will help your athletic endeavors. Plus, if you find out you have asthma before you can better prepare for runs.
Okay, with that out of the way, where you do you start? Many places will say the beauty of running is that it can be done with minimal investment. This is sort of true. You can certainly spend a lot of money on a heart rate monitor, shoes, outfits and other gadgets. Do you need all of that? Well, sort of, proper running shoes really are important. It helps prevent injury and will help you feel better during runs. You can avoid knee, hips, heel, lower back and foot pain by having the right fit and shoe type. If you don’t want to wander down to your local running store, there are plenty of online resources to help you start. Road Runner Sports is one of my favorite places to buy running shoes from because they have great search options and prices. Not just that, they will let you run/try out the shoe for 60 days and still return it if you don’t like it, if you are a VIP member. No, they are not paying me, that is just my opinion.
Clothes are a bit more tricky. It really depends on where you live and what you already own. You need to be comfortable when engaging in an otherwise uncomfortable activity. You will sweat, fabrics do different things with sweat. Tech shirts are different from cotton and have a different price tag. At the same time, you don’t need to wander down to Lululemon and buy $400 dollars worth(which is what like two outfits?). You’ll need things that don’t chafe(aka rub your skin), lead to blisters, or leave you cold/hot. It’s easy to get carried away with cute work out outfits and wanting something of everything. My guidelines for needs are the following.
- 2-3 tank tops
- 2-3 shorts/skirts whatever your preference
- 2-4 pants/capris
- 3-5 shirts
- 2 long sleeve
- 3-5 sports bras(if you are a girl)
These numbers will vary if you live in a warm climate where you may never need pants. I work out 3-6 times a week depending on where I am with training. If you run outside, you can add 20 deg to the outside temp and that is what you will need to dress for when running. If you live in an unpredictable climate like Minneapolis, you can bet you’ll need to add in more layering if you want to run outside in the winter. Sunglasses or visor type gear is essential when it’s sunny. Squinting is not fun and can be dangerous. A visor is great because it acts as a headband and blocks the sun in one deal.
Okay so now you have your doctor’s approval and gear, now what? You need a plan. This depends on where you are at physically. Find a goal, do you want to run 5 miles? Do you want to do a race of a certain distance? Once you figure out your goal, find a plan to help you get there. There are tons of apps that will help you with this. There are lots of training plans free and at a cost. Download ones that fit your need or budget. Music helps run fly by. Setting a playlist with motivating songs will help you focus on something. If you don’t own any music you can look into Pandora or other radio based apps. I suppose if you don’t have a smart phone you would need to invest in some type of music player if you don’t already own one. iPod shuffles are awesome, they are small, hold enough songs for most distances and easy to use
Remember, not every run is going to be awesome. You will have tough runs. Find a support system, be it a friend you text after/before that holds you accountable or a local running group you train with, but it does help. Like anything, it will take time. Continue to research and read up on it. There are some really great fitness/running blogs and magazines that will provide you with motivation, tips and inspirational stories. It connects you to an otherwise very solo sport.
What are you waiting for, get going!