~Part Three in the series Run For Your Life ~
Show of hands: Who’s ever started a running program?!
Show of hands: Who’s still running?
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. The physical, mental and spiritual benefits, the healthier lifestyle and shopping for breezy shorty shorts, are within your reach. It’s just a matter of starting (the easy part), continuing (takes grit) and staying motivated (gotta dig deep).
Medical Disclaimer: if you are over 40-years-old, have a known medical condition, or are over 20 pounds overweight, consult a doc. My guess is they will give you a high-five for gumption, but it’s always a good idea to check (even I checked before starting my marathon training and I’ve been running forevah).
How To Start:
Take it slow. Everyone wants to be able to get out the door and run a mile, but it’s not a good idea to tackle such a distance in the beginning. Matter of fact, most newbies should be walking more than running…at first.
· Using one mile for your initial total distance, run 1 minute then walk for 2 minutes. If you’re not wearing a watch, use houses as your markers. Run the distance of a few houses, then double that number for your walking distance. Repeat until you have covered a mile. Tweak the run/walk combo up or down for your fitness level.
· As you find it easier to run, increase your running time and decrease your walking time until you are running 30 continuous minutes (YES, this will happen).
· Use the “talk test” to make sure you aren’t pushing too hard. If you can’t carry on a simple “yes” or “no” conversation while running, you are moving way too fast. Slow down. Faster speeds will follow improved endurance.
· In the beginning, schedule three runs a week, with a day in between each run for rest. Rest is important, so use your “off” days for light weight-lifting or cross training or simply goofy off.
How To Continue:
· Take it slow.
Wait, she already stated that point. I know! It’s worth repeating because the #1 cause of running injuries, which many times lead to quitting, is pushing your body too fast, too soon.
Yes, I know you feel ridiculous taking it so slow. Yes, I know you want to run like the wind. Yes, I know you think your body is the same as it was when it was 20 and can take it (it’s not; it can’t).
Take it slow.
· Find the time to continue by making your runs a priority.
Bonus Mrs. Tucker-ism: You have time for the things that are important to you.
Keep a schedule. Whenever you think about blowing off a run, ask yourself if your replacement activity offers benefits equal to or greater than those you will be missing.
· Understand that there will be setbacks; they’re part of the dealio. Some runners look at running-related injuries as badges of honor. Kinda like the scar scene in Jaws. What you’re really seeing is a coping mechanism. Seasoned runners know setbacks happen; we anticipate them. We accept them, encourage healing, and then get back at it as soon as possible. Plus, we cuss a lot.
How To Stay Motivated:
· Keep track of your progress. Not only will this serve to motivate, it will help you visualize your successes and learn from your mistakes. Some like pie-charts, some like Excel, some, like me, notate progress with multi-colored Sharpies on a calendar.
· Make goals. Start simple and as your level of fitness increases, so should your goals. In the beginning they might look like this: DON’T DIE! But after awhile, they might look like this: Run three miles on a hilly course.
· Reward yourself. Once goals have been met, reward yourself with something runnery. A fancy-pants watch or some aerodynamic sunglasses. Or if your anything like me, a guilt-free trip to Marble Slab. Yurm.
· Surf runner’s sites. You’ll have fun and learn more than you ever did here.
Ready? Set. Lace those shoes up and change your life!
Next Up: Training, Injuries and Beyond