How To Start A Running Routine
It’s almost summertime and while most people are starting to plan their summer vacations to the lake or overseas, there are other people, like me, that are ready to begin training for a couple of races. Whether you are new runner that wants to try out running to help you get healthier, or a veteran runner that recently took a break from running, sometimes it is hard to figure out where to start back up.
There have been a couple times that I can remember having to completely re-start a whole new running routine. The first, was when I was an incoming high school freshmen and didn’t know a thing about running or how to build up any kind of endurance. The second, was my sophomore year of college, when I had to red-shirt my indoor and outdoor track season for about 3 months due to an iliotibial (IT) band injury. The third, and most recent, was right after qualifying for Boston in 2014, I got a very painful hip injury, where I ended up receiving a corticosteroid injection in hip joint and rested it for about 14 months. Here are few things I’ve learned along the way from my ‘starting fresh’ experiences:
1. Start small and build your way up
If it's your first time on the trails in a very long time or ever, start with a 1-3 min jog with 3 min rest walk in between for a total of 30 minutes. Do this for about 3-4 times per week. Increase your minutes of jogging per week with the same amount of rest. You will be surprised by after a month how confident you will feel about how long you can run without stopping.
Another way to start small would be to start with a half mile or mile jog, walk a quarter mile, and then repeat until you hit 30 minutes. I know this start up method may seem like it will take forever, but the important thing is that you are starting to run and you don’t want to overdo it to where you get injured, or it gets too hard where you dread getting back out there, or you burn out.
Personally, the first 2-4 weeks are usually the hardest to get through. Be sure to listen to your body on paces and take a day or two off, if needed.
2. Try cross-training on your off-running days
There have been plenty times, where my body is aching from the run before, but I really want to build up my endurance, so a few things I (and other running friends) like to do to cross-train to help stay active are: cycling, roller-blading taking a HIIT class, swimming, rowing, or even the stair master.
Not only will these activities also help build your endurance levels, but also help keep you strong and injury-free (again, be sure its within your own limits!). On days you just don’t feel like doing any cardio, yoga and doing light weight exercises are also great ways to help keep your body strong for when you do get back out on the trails the next day.
3. Set a goal
Setting a goal on a weekly, monthly, yearly basis or even a race date can help you create a plan for yourself of where you want to take your running.
When starting on a run, it is usually best to start with goals on a weekly basis. For me, if my goal is to run 15 miles one week, then I spread out my runs to where I think I could reach my 15 miles per week goal. I like to try to get through the first week, see how I feel with running and cross training , and then continue with the second week, and so forth.
A lot of people also start running to help speed up weight loss or maintain their current weight. Which ever your reason, just keep at it and make sure that when you are fulfilling your health goals that you are HAPPY and feel good about how your body and running feels together.
4. Be patient and remember why you chose to start this running journey
One of the major things that I wish I could tell myself when I was a younger runner, would be to have fun and be patient with the training. After being injured all I could think about was how fast I could get back to where I left off. Instead, I should have relished the short runs, cross training, and the ability to re-learn my body
Think of the beginning running stage as just that, a stage, or a phase, that all runners have to go through no matter their fitness level. All the short runs and walks have their purpose in your training.
Another thing I like to remind myself a lot in times of frustration with my running is: Why do I like to run in the first place? What is my happiest running memory? What does running do for me? When was the last time I smiled after a run?
As a current runner, I get asked a lot of questions around “how do I start running?” key points to this are: start small, be consistent with the work you do, set a goal, be patient, and have fun.
If there is anything else you guys would like to learn about or know about myself and running, be sure to leave a comment below or send me a message!