Letter to a friend who wants to start running
I’ve spoken about this before. When someone says they want to start running, and do you have any tips. Amidst all of the disapproval and gobsmackedness (I just invented that word), someone WANTS to start running, someone wants to hear all about it! That is what we wait for! Well here goes J, just for you:
Walking is not the enemy
Unless you are an elite marathoner, depending on running as an income at all costs, even your health, all runners walk. We don’t often admit it, but it is true. When you start you won’t be able to run far, maybe just a block or two, you will want to stop running and walk. This is not the point where you go home and consider yourself a failure, this is the point where you walk until you feel ready to run for a while again. Walking is a recharge. It is not weakness, it is a strategy. I used to be embarrassed to walk in fun runs, but gradually realised that others who I would pass while they walked, would end up passing me later, because they rested and recharged.
Gradually those walking breaks will get further apart and the runs between them will get longer. Even after running for 5 years, these walking breaks still exist. Especially when you challenge yourself to run further and further, you will need this strategy to achieve this! I will still walk briefly at least three times during a 20km run for example. And when I run my marathon, I will listen to my body when it needs to walk, because if I don’t, I will never make it 42km. You always count the full distance. You consider it 5km even if you walked half of it. The rest will take care of itself!
The right shoes are your best friend
Go to a specialised running store and get fitted for the right shoes for your gait. The “Athlete’s Foot” doesn’t count, they give those jobs to anyone! You can go through your whole life buying sneakers which seem comfortable and are nice colours and not do yourself any damage, until you start running in them, then there will be injuries! There is a Running Company where you live, J. Take your old sneakers with you so they can also see where you have worn them down. Worth the investment.
The first run or first part of a run will always suck the most, too many people don’t move past that to the place where it feels awesome! I still take 3km to really warm up and find my groove. As they say “never trust the first mile, it lies”.
Speed doesn’t matter – just make it fun!
To start out with, along with the walk breaks and the speed you run in between them, it is more important to enjoy yourself than reach any time goals. While running, stay at a speed which feels as comfortable as possible! One day you might want to get faster, or run further than you are used to. Only focus on one of these on a single run, eg. one run go further at a comfortable speed, another run go faster for a comfortable distance. For now, worry about distance first with whatever you need to make that a happy place! Music, pretty running tops, nice scenery (you have plenty of that, wish I started running when I lived there), whatever works!
I don’t know if this applies to you, but it is one lesson I learnt the hard way! I lost a lot of weight when I started running, then when I increased my distance I increased my diet more and put it all back on, despite the fact I had never been running as much. This is actually really common in runners, that we overestimate how many calories we have burnt. Running makes you REALLY hungry and it is far too easy to say “hey, I just ran 10km, I deserve a big mac”, “vanilla slice” (in my case). On the other hand don’t cut out any food groups, you need the fuel for the run!
There is a big fad in “streaking”, running every single day. I believe that this creates a high risk of injury. I believe in leaving at least a day between for your body to recover. If you get sore, go for a walk or swim or bike ride the day in between and you will actually feel looser for it.
I think this covers the most important things that I wish I knew when I started! I hope you get something out of it, and I can’t wait to share your journey with you!! YAY!