Maybe you’ve seen them striding past your office window in the morning, or congregating in packs at the park in the evening. Maybe your co-worker likes to dash out for a quick jog at lunchtime, or maybe you saw a flyer for a local race and it left you wondering.
Running. Most people will tell you it’s the easiest sport because all you need is a pair of sneakers and you’re on your way. While that’s true for the most part, there’s also a layer of mystery surrounding the sport that keeps many non-runners from taking the leap.
If you’ve ever wanted to try running, or even if you’ve tried it before and hated it, here’s how to get started so you can truly become a runner for life.
Most newbie runners tie their laces and take off down the street expecting to sprint the miles away. Reality catches up to them by the end of the block, or even the driveway. “Go slow enough that you could hold a conversation while you run,” advises running coach and 15-time marathoner Holly Gantman. “If you can’t talk, you’re going too fast.”
Plan to run/walk
“Add walking into your run or add running into your walks,” Gantman says. Many new runners feel discouraged if they need to walk for a few seconds during their runs. But this is how most runners get started. Pick an object in the distance and plan to walk when you get there. Once you’re walking, pick another object where you’ll start to run again. The next time you go out for run, try to run a little farther and walk a little less. Before you know it, you’ll be able to string those running segments together for several miles.
Make a schedule
Even if you don’t plan to culminate your training with a race, it’s a good idea to follow a beginner’s running plan to keep you motivated and on track. “Without such a schedule, a new runner risks increasing their training load too rapidly beyond what the body can adapt to, which of course will result in injury and disappointment,” advises running coach Kyle Kranz.
Find a buddy
“Finding friends to run with is, I believe, key to making running a lifelong hobby,” Kranz says. It may feel intimidating at first, but just remember that everyone started somewhere, and most runners are more than happy to help a new runner get a footing in the sport. Check out local running stores or fitness centers to see if there are any running groups in your area, or solo runners interested in pairing up.
Get some good shoes
If your feet hurt, you’re not going to want to run. So make sure you have some sneaks with at least a little cushion to get you started. Once you start running more regularly, head to a running store and get fitted for a pair of kicks that matches your running needs and style.
Dimity McDowell — co-author of “Run Like A Mother: How to Get Moving and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity” and one of the bloggers/podcasters behind the Another Mother Runner community — has a perfect motto for runners of all experience levels: “Don’t Think: Just Go.”