Over the summer I found a love for running. It was always an exercise form that I hated and could never stick with but something clicked and it’s become something I really look forward to doing. As a beginner it is definitely an intimidating thing to do. I was worried about not being good enough or people looking at me whilst I was running but I’ve gotten over a few of those hurdles and wanted to share a couple of my tips for picking up running as a beginner.
1. Starting is the hardest part
For me, the thought of going out running in my local area was terrifying. I was worried that other people would see me and judge how far, how fast, or just generally how, I was running. Even just the thought of trying to go out for a run and not being able to do it put me off starting so many times because I didn’t want to fail. There were definitely a couple of things that helped me to actually get started in the begining including having someone else to run with (more on this in point 2!). The main thing I had to change to be able to get started was my mindset. I had to really challenge all of the perceptions I had about what people would think of me and just think about the fact that it was something I wanted to do. As soon as I got out and did that first run, I completely forgot about what other people thought because I was focused on keeping moving and getting round the route I had set.
2. Find a running partner
One thing that really took the fear out of getting started was having a running partner. My friend and I were both similar in terms of our fitness and running ability so it meant that we were cheering each other on and challenging ourselves without over doing it. Another thing I find helpful about going out together is that it keeps me accountable. You won’t always feel like getting up early or going out after work but when you know that the other person is doing the same, it gives you another reason to go. Also, it is a great opportunity to have a catch up with a friend!
3. Use a running tracker/fitness tracking app
Using my Fitbit to track each run has been a big factor is keeping motivated. I really enjoy looking at the stats at the end of each run to see what progress we have made. I know that looking at the numbers doesn’t work for everyone but it helps me to actually see the improvements we make. I really struggle with putting myself down if I don’t feel like I have had a good run but looking at the figures always shows some form of progress, whether that be pace, the distance we ran vs walked or even my cardio fitness level.
4. Don’t expect overnight improvement to physical fitness
Like I mentioned above, I can be really bad at putting myself down if I don’t feel like I have made massive improvements from one run to the next. One thing I have learned is that you are always making progress, even if the run is slower or shorter, because you are getting out there and trying. You will never make huge leaps each time you go in terms of physical fitness but even getting out for 10/20 minutes can make the biggest difference to your mindset and mental health. The improvement in my mood and energy levels after a run is something that I love and that is just as, if not more, important than the physical side of it.
5. Don’t rush!
One of the mistakes I have made in the past when trying to start running is that I have gone in too far too quickly and I have ended up stopping after a week. Easing yourself in slowing and finding your base level is so important. I found that setting a route out in advance helped so I knew exactly where I was going and could limit the distance to start with. On the first time I went, I just started off slowly and let my body tell me when it wanted to stop and start running. From there, I knew what my base level was for that route and each time I run that route I try and make a small improvement, such as running for an extra thirty seconds where I would normally walk. I have found that building up my fitness slowly has meant that I actually see the improvements I am making and it spurs me on to keep going out and trying!