With the Gold Coast marathon coming up next weekend, I thought it would be timely to post about a topic that has been on my mind: How to become a runner.
Having always been an ‘anti-sport’ gym-only exerciser and much more of a yogi than a runner, I never imagined that I would be able to run further than the end of my street, yet it is starting to come much more naturally after some practice.
The other day while jogging further and faster than I could have ever imagined, I thought about how helpful it would have been to read a post full of advice before I started.
So, if you can’t imagine ever running any kind of distance, this post is for you! Seasoned runners feel free to get involved in the comments as I would love extra advice to improve further.
1. Get a friend
It is much easier to get motivated to go for a jog if you know someone else is there waiting for you, or to hassle you to get out of bed in the morning. If it wasn’t for Kris, I doubt I would have started jogging at all, and it is so much easier to get out there and do it if we have committed to a time.
Running with a friend makes it more fun and is good safety wise, particularly if you are running at night, and then you both have the satisfaction of how good you feel afterwards!
2. Set some goals
We started off with a goal of ‘getting fit’ in mind, but things seemed to fall into place much more when we decided to do the 10km in the Gold Coast marathon.
Since you have to commit (and pay) sometimes months out from a fun run, it really gives you something to work towards. I know that I never would have run 10km if it wasn’t for the fear of not being able to make it on the day!
3. Get equipped
Thankfully running is budget friendly, since the only thing you need is a good pair of shoes.
I delayed getting good running shoes for so long, but am so happy that I finally splurged and bought a new pair as it was well overdue (and makes a huge difference to how I feel while running).
Additionally, I bought a cheap armband for my phone from ebay – which makes it easier to listen to music and use running apps while on the go.
4. Practice regularly
Like anything, exercise is much easier to do if it is part of a routine and something that you do regularly. Depending on your schedule it can be challenging to fit it in, especially when life gets in the way, but try to have a certain day/time each week that is for running – non-negotiable.
Unfortunately we have both been struck down with a bit of wintertime sickness which has thrown us out of whack, resulting in much less practice, but we find it so great starting off the weekend with a Saturday morning jog.
5. Get outside
There are many reasons why people choose to run on a treadmill – weather doesn’t affect you, there are less concerns about safety, air-conditioning etc., but there is just something magical about running outdoors, particularly if you can find a route that takes you along the ocean or some kind of waterway.
Coming up over a hill and getting a look at crashing waves, the feeling of the fresh sea breeze or watching the sun set while finishing off a jog is just an experience that you don’t get while running in a gym.
Plus running outdoors is FREE which is a huge bonus for our student budget!
6. Change it up
Before it starts to get boring, change up your routine. Run in the morning instead of afternoon, try a different route, do intervals, hills or soft sand, put some new music on your ipod and keep things interesting.
We try to have a short (5km) jog that we do regularly, know how long it takes and how much we need to pace ourselves, however we often change it up to a longer jog in the opposite direction, which takes us through the centre of Surfers Paradise and adds a bit of people watching to the jogging experience.
7. Take care of yourself
No surprises here – if you aren’t taking care of your body, running will be a struggle. Eating nutritious food, listening to your body (and resting when you need to), drinking plenty of water and getting a solid sleep are crucial to getting you feeling good and motivated to jump out of bed and into your running shoes.
Resting can often be as important as the exercise itself, so don’t feel like you need to run every day – your body needs time to recover.
8. Get some beats
For me, running without music would be like swimming without water.
Not only does it drown out the noise of your own breathing and your feet hitting the pavement, but music can help to set your pace, lift your mood and turn your run into an enjoyable experience, rather than a chore.
Rather than run the risk with my music on shuffle (there is nothing that ruins your pace like a slow Gotye song randomly playing), I prefer to use Podrunner podcasts – which are a mix of upbeat music, set to a specified BPM. The music often brings back memories of stumbling out of a club in the wee hours of the morning, yet it really gets your head into a ‘running space’.
We have also used the Podrunner interval training tracks, which can help you slowly work your way up to running a full 5km, starting with large walking intervals that gradually get smaller and smaller.
9. Chart your progress
After all that practice, there is nothing that motivates you like seeing how much you have improved. Of course you will notice in your breathing and running style that it seems to be coming more naturally but when you can look and see that you have improved numbers wise it really feels like you have achieved something.
There are a myriad of iphone/android apps that will do this for you easily, even using GPS to track you while running, and chart your results – my favourite is Runkeeper, but take a look in the app store to find one that works for you.
10. Get your head right
While running is the perfect way to clear your head, I find it much better to start out with a positive attitude and even with something that I need to go over in my head (eg. writing a blog post, practicing a talk, revising some study). This helps to forget all about the process of running, especially about how hard it is, and just do it.
Having a positive mantra helps some people and if my thoughts take a negative turn, I find things it useful to repeat things like ‘I am a runner’ and ‘I am fit and healthy’ help to get my mind out of the rut and allow my body to take over without resistance.
There are some amazing running resources out there for beginners so search the web or check out one of the following:
Do you have any tips for running? I would love to hear about them before the next weekend when we will be attempting 10km!
Photos from: my instagram (jazziefizzle)
I am by no means an expert in this field and all advice is my personal opinion only, so please seek professional advice if you have any concerns. Please ensure that you seek medical advice before undertaking a new exercise regime if you have any medical conditions.