Are you looking to start running again but it's been a while and you don't know where to begin? Whether it's recovering from an illness, injury, being too busy at work, or having a new baby, it's easy to put running on the back burner when life gets in the way. Below are 8 tips to help you start running again.
Create a Schedule
One of the most important things when it comes to starting an exercise regimen is creating a schedule. Most of us have a tendency to say something to ourselves like, "I'll go on a run this week" but then you just never really feel like it - or you just never really find the time.
Setting the day and time of when you plan to run can really change your mindset. You no longer have to rely on when you "feel like running". When you're just getting back into it, you probably won't just "feel like it". When you have a plan, you're more likely to actually do it whether you feel like it or not.
If you can schedule the same day and time every week to run, it will be much easier to create a habit - and stick to it!
Ditch the “all or nothing” Mindset
Some runners will miss a day in their programs and think that they should give up. If this happens, remember to be gentle with yourself, accept that a day was not completed, and start again the next day.
It is also important to understand that “success” has different definitions for people and can even differ for the same runner day to day. When someone is not feeling well, they might not complete as many miles as they wanted, yet they still add to a goal. Success for that day may have shifted from a mileage goal to a completion goal. But getting caught up on absolutes (it is either “x amount of miles” or nothing) may not allow room for learning or growth through the training process.
Even if you used to run marathons, if it's been a while, you need to make sure to start out slow to avoid injury. Start out with brisk walks and ease into walk/run intervals. Choose a short distance even if you used to run several miles at a time. With each run, you can add a little more distance or speed. Give your body time to build up those running muscles and endurance.
Cross-training on days that you aren't running is a great way to continue to build muscle and endurance without over-stressing joints and risking injury. There are tons of cross-training exercises that are perfect for runners such as swimming, biking/cycling, yoga, pilates, and strength training.
Finding local group fitness classes can be a fun way to keep you on track on your cross-training days. No matter what cross-training activity you choose, make sure it's something you enjoy.
Make sure to give yourself days off in between runs. When you're just starting out, try not to run two days in a row. It's important to let your body rest in order to avoid injury.
On your days off, stretching can be really helpful - especially stretches that target the hips, quads, and calves. This will help you recover faster and prepare you for your next run.
Join a Run Club
Joining a running group can be the best thing you can do for your running habit. You'll make new friends who also love to run and can hold you accountable and help motivate you to keep going. A run club will also take the mental work out of scheduling the date, time, and routes since those are typically planned out for you. All you have to do is show up!
When you join a run club, you join a like-minded community with other runners of all levels and abilities. Running a marathon might seem like a pipe dream when you're just starting out or getting back into running but when you become friends with someone who has run several, it can be really inspiring - and a great opportunity for you to learn new tips and tricks - and having great running partners can help push you further than you ever thought you could go!
Sign up for a Race
If you're looking for extra motivation to get running, signing up for a race may be just the ticket. When you have a goal - a reason to train, you're more likely to get out there, push harder, and crush your runs. When you finally get out there on race day, you'll put all your training to work.
Let's face it, there is no greater feeling than crossing that finish line after a long hard run that you've trained for. Some of my hardest races have ended in tears of pure joy - knowing that I was able to finish something that I worked so hard for, something that I thought was previously impossible... knowing that I am capable of achieving what I set out for - and realizing that I am a total badass for crushing it! Nothing can even compare!
Lastly, just keep running! The more you do it, the easier it will get. Yes, it will be hard at first. Especially if you haven't done it in a while or if you've never done it. You will be sore and tired. There will be times that you'll want to give up. Just remember, it gets easier - your body is capable of more than you think. Running can be physically hard but it is also very much a mental exercise. Oftentimes, your mind will want to give out before your body.
Training the mind to have a positive statement as a go-to will help you develop a habit of seeing opportunities instead of problems. An example is turning “I don’t want to run today” into “I will feel successful after I complete today’s run".
Make sure you pay attention to your body while running. There is a difference between feeling sore and having an injury and experiencing real pain. If you experience an injury, more pain than just being sore, it's okay to take a break and walk instead. Running with an injury can result in permanent damage that will prevent you from running in the future.