Running is a globally inclusive sport, with millions of runners around the world. Why is it so popular? Starting to run is a great way to improve your health, get fit, and feel better on the inside and the outside.
Once you built the habit, going for a run becomes unique. It is an activity that helps you relax, think and above all to improve yourself over and over again. It is a physical training but above all a mental one.
If you don’t know how to start, this guide will help you start running from the beginning.
Any form of movement is good for you, but among the many options that exist, running has been the preferred choice of many people around the world.
“According to AusPlay data from Sport Australia and research commissioned by Athletics Australia, 3 million Australians participate in running, making it one of Australia’s largest and most popular sport and physical activity pursuits”, confirms Athletics Australia.
Running is a great cardiovascular exercise, I love running because it allows me to be in contact with the nature and it can even become a form of active meditation.
Another positive point about running is that it helps you work with your own weaknesses and fight against your limiting thoughts. In practice, you learn to negotiate with your lazy mind to push yourself to finish the lap or to do the last section at full speed.
When you constantly go out for a run your self-esteem improves, which gives you an extra dose of confidence and motivation to achieve other types of goals (even not related to exercise).
In other words, starting to run helps you train your body and mind, that is, to build an athlete’s mind.
However, it is very important to note that starting from scratch (and creating the habit) is a process.
- What do you need to start running?
- The goal is to go at your own pace.
- 6 steps to GET READY TO START RUNNING
- What should you do before and after running?
- The 5 training stages
- Tips to stay motivated!
What do you really need to start running?
More recent studies have shown that sufficiently comfortable running shoes are all you need for running.
You don’t need a heart rate meter, no gels, or expensive sportswear. A few comfortable shorts or pants of any kind are all you need. I recommend you that the fabric you wear is preferably Dry Fit or Climacool (depending on the brand you buy). Sweat evaporates faster and you don’t perspire too much.
Regarding the socks, if they are made of cotton they can cause you to sweat extra, which makes the skin of some parts of the foot more sensitive to the friction of movement. Having a blister is painful and will prevent you from running. The best material for socks is synthetic poyester.
When you start running, relying on your own sensation (hot, short of breath, tired) is the best thing you can do. Your own body will dictate the optimal rhythm to keep running, slow down or stop training. Running is about having an active conversation with your body and mind.
So if you have a pair of legs and some comfortable shoes, you’re good to go!
My favourite Starter Running Kit:
The goal is to go at your own pace
This guide to start running from scratch is divided into stages that do not have a defined time. Why? because each person is different: there will be some people who have trained before, or who are more fit and therefore advance faster, while other people advance at their own pace (slowly but surely).
6 steps to GET READY TO START RUNNING
Step 1: Define at what time of the day you’ll start
Our goal is for you to be constant so that you can complete all the stages and running becomes a habit in your routine. Since we need to avoid excuses, first think about what time of day you will save to train. For example in the morning, in the afternoon, or at night.
Step 2: Choose a reminder
- Leave your shoes and sportswear ready.
- A written note in a visible place in your home
- A mobile alarm
- Weekly schedule posted in a visible place
Step 3: Define in advance the length of the session
I recommend that you start with little time, 10 – 15 minutes is a good time to take a walk without returning home completely exhausted.
In addition, knowing that the workout is simple and short, it helps your mind have a better acceptance and avoid excuses.
If 10 minutes is too long, then you can start with 5 minutes, and if 10 minutes is too easy for you then start with 20 minutes.
Step 4: Define the location
Being very clear about the steps you will follow to go for a walk or run is key to mentally convince yourself and not fail.
It is better to choose nearby places at first to leave the house ready to run, and not have to travel by car to get there.
It is also valid to change routes from time to time to motivate yourself.
Step 5: Keep track of your progress
Keeping track is the best way to stay motivated.
Step 6: Keep the motivation
You need to respect your times and don’t lose the motivation.
What should you do before and after running?
- Stay hydrated: It’s really important to drink water before and after running. If you run less than 1 hour, water is more than enough to hydrate you, it’s not necessary to take another type of drink.
- Stretch after training: really important to prevent injuries.
- After training eat something healthy like an apple, a banana or a why protein shake.
5 stages to get you started running
STAGE 1: WALK
I advise you to walk at a good pace so that your lungs, your heart and your muscles get ready for the next stage.
The time you dedicate to this stage will give you the basis for your legs to become stronger, for your heart to beat less (but with more force) and for you to learn to breathe better.
Also like any other exercise, running can cause injuries and this stage helps you avoid it.
Gradually increase the time between 5 and 2 minutes each week until you can walk between 20 and 30 minutes without feeling extremely exhausted.
The only way to know if you are able to increase the time is by testing. If you realize that when you increase the 5 minutes you feel a physical resistance (too tired) or mental (you stop being constant) then it is better to go back to the previous time and continue one more week before increasing it.
A good trick is to ask yourself every day: From 1 to 5, how much effort did it cost me to walk or run today? and write that number in your journal (5 is your best effort).
So you can see if it is time to increase the time or wait a little longer, when you are ready continue to Stage 2.
STAGE 2: WALK AND RUN
It is simply about walking and running, but doing defined intervals of time in which your heart increases its beats and then has time to recover.
Example: 10 sec run, 1 min walk.
When you master this Stage and achieve 30 seconds of running comfortably, continue to the next stage.
STAGE 3: WALK AND RUN MORE
It’s all about walking and running, but try to increase the running time.
Example: 30 sec run, 1 min walk.
STAGE 4: RUN AND KEEP RUNNING
- This stage is actually an extension of the previous one because you can always return to the walking and running stage to train better, and even on those days when you don’t feel energetic you can just walk.
Remember that listening to your body is the best tool to run smartly.
However, when you start this stage it means that you feel comfortable running for periods of more than 5 minutes of time, which means that running for 10 to 20 minutes without interruption is a realistic goal for you.
STAGE 5: Increase the Time and improve your pace
- Increase the time little by little: As in the other stages, in this one you also have to gradually increase the time you run. I suggest you increase from 2 to 8 minutes per week.
- Start improving your pace: When you achieve between 20 and 30 minutes running without interruptions and you feel comfortable you are already at an excellent level to continue training and start little by little to improve your pace and the distance at which you run.
By the time you are at this point, it is very likely that exercise has become a natural part of your routine!
Tips to stay motivated!
- Running apps: Use apps like Nike running or Runtastic to track your runs and follow your evolution!
- Music: Music helps you keep the pace, create an upbeat playlist
- Change the routes: Running in new locations will make you find new spots you may not know about
- Run with friends!
- Use an activity tracker or smart watch: Same as with the apps, being able to see how you’re improving really helps you stay on track and motivated.