Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How-Tuesday! How to Get Started Running

I'm no expert runner, but maybe that's why people feel comfortable asking me how to get started. I actually consider myself an expert at getting started since I take so many breaks. :)

But here's how to do it:
1. Invest in some good gear. Two areas where it's truly worth it to spend the money is with running shoes and sports bras. If possible, go to running store near you. They won't laugh at you, I promise. Many running stores have a treadmill where you run barefoot and they get images of your stride and point you toward the appropriate shoes. Even if yours isn't so high-tech, the employees will watch you walk and tell you whether you over-pronate, under-pronate, or are just a boring normal person. Try on several different pairs, even ones that aren't so cute. But the ones that feel the best, not that are the cheapest, or the pinkest, or a brand you thought you liked. Also, invest in a heavy-duty sports bra if that's something you might need. I tend to buy shoes and sports bras at running specialty stores, and then I'm not as picky about my shirts and shorts - I'll buy those at Target, Old Navy, the running store, or wherever.

2. If your skin chafes together when you try to run, particularly on your inner thighs, you may need some Body Glide. This is kind of like vaseline in deodorant form, and you rub it on the places that chafe before you leave the house. Don't be embarrassed to buy it - most runners I know own this stuff, and it's fabulous.

3. Start with a beginning running program that combines lots of walking with minimal running and moves up from there. Many, many people get injured from starting out too fast (myself included, several times). A program that's widely used is called Couch to 5K. Couch to 5K takes you from being a non-runner to running 3.1 miles in 9 weeks. When you're done with that, set your sights even higher!

4. The best way to stay motivated is to sign up for a race, preferably with a friend. Paying the entry fee will hopefully keep you accountable! One thing I wish I'd known in the beginning is how popular walking is, for any distance from a 5K to a full marathon. I am not a fast runner by any stretch of the imagination, and I am always in the middle of the back, trailed by hundreds of slower runners, joggers, and walkers. Races aren't just for runners, and I promise you won't be last.

5. Start slowly and stay with it. Yes, the first week or so you'll feel like you want to die. But it gets better. And there's nothing more empowering than proving to yourself that you can conquer something new!

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