How To Become A Runner

I thought, for the first post on my site, that it was fitting for me to start all the way back at the beginning.

So move over, Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, because I’m about to tell you how to become a runner.

Make A Decision

We’ve all heard the adage, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Well, the first step to becoming a runner is to choose to start. Made your choice? Ok, first hurdle cleared. For some, this can be the toughest step. You won’t regret it, though,…other than regretting not making it sooner!

Set A Goal

Once you’ve decided to start your journey you need to decide where you want it to take you. 1 mile? A 5k? Disney World? Whatever your goal may be, make sure it is big enough to scare you a bit. That is right. I said scare. Because that means it is going to challenge you. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. You, also, want a goal that will motivate you and that won’t be easy to back out of (i.e. paying that high race entry fee or announcing it to a lot of people).

Make A Plan

I’m the type of person that loves a good plan. Color-coordinated and with Post-its. Or stickers. Or Post-its and stickers. Even for the less office supply-obsessed person, a plan is essential to running. You wouldn’t go to a foreign country without any sort of directions, would you? Well, maybe you would, but this “new territory” needs to be charted. Why? So you can get to your destination healthy and prepared.

Now, there are many routes you can take (are you loving all my navigational references?). There are Coach-to-5k apps, custom plans from personal trainers, or free online plans for specific events (i.e. Jeff Galloway’s famous run/walk strategy for runDisney events). You can, also, have routes that show you the entire plan at once so you can prepare yourself for what’s to come or week-by-week plans so you aren’t overwhelmed by looking ahead. Find what works for you and get your highlighters ready…for me?

P.S. Take a note from the Eagles and “Take It Easy”. Yes, I know you are excited. You made the decision, you have your goal, and you are raring to go. However, if you go out too fast, you are risking three things. Injury, burnout, and not reaching your goal. Consistency is key over speed. Remember our friend the turtle? Good things take time, so take your time. Start out by walking a few days a week. Then, start jogging a bit. Then, start walking a bit less and jogging a bit more. Finally, slowly, build up your mileage towards your goal. Voilà! The perfect plan!

Find Your Fit

Cinderella was never my favorite princess, but she does stand as proof of this fact…a pair of shoes can change your life. Seriously, the right (or wrong) pair of shoes can determine whether your running journey takes off or fizzles as soon as it starts. Go to a reputable running store in your area and get evaluated and fitted for the shoes that are best for you. It may not be the brand you were expecting and it can cost pretty penny, but it will be what your feet need to go the distance.

Don’t Compare

Everyone is different. Everyone has their own pace. Don’t get frustrated if it may take you more time, because guess what? It is about reaching your goals, not someone else’s. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy. Therefore, unless you are Eliud Kipchoge, you will get robbed often if you compare your running journey to another’s. So, don’t compare yourself…unless you want to compare yourself to what you were yesterday.

Find Your Happy Place

Running is uncomfortable and while someone told me once that when you’re uncomfortable, you’re growing, you don’t want to be miserably uncomfortable. If you are, you won’t be able to sustain running for the long-term. So, if you need a buddy to run with, join a running group. If gyms and varying outdoor temperatures make you cringe (like me), maybe invest in a treadmill. Create a playlist or find a podcast that keeps you moving or get yourself some fun running outfits. Whatever it is that will keep the excuses and skipped run days at bay, works!

Keep Records

“Knowing where you are is by knowing where you’ve been”. Yes, more Disney, ok? Journal, use a tracking website like Strava, and/or take those ‘Gram pics. By doing this you will be able to see how far you’ve come as well as what worked, and didn’t work, for you.

Along with keeping records comes the opportunity to celebrate your victories. Ran your first mile with stopping? Victory. Finished your first training run over 6 miles? Victory. Got out of a nice, warm bed to go for a run? VICTORY! Document these landmarks and celebrate your victories!

Almost done, I promise, but I saved the hardest step for last.

Are you ready for it?

Believe You Can

Yup, it sounds simple but, believe me, it is not. It is like the quote from “Little Giants” says, running is “80% mental and 40% physical”. Your mind is a powerful thing and can be your biggest workout weapon. Your body achieves what your mind believes, so BELIEVE IT! Imagine yourself reaching your goal with each step and training run and you will get there. I, for one, cannot wait to see what finish lines you will cross when you master this step.

*Bonus: If you are aiming to jump distances (i.e. from 5k to 10k or from half marathon to the full 26.2), these rules still apply. Just add in some Body Glide and motivating books to prepare yourself for the extra mileage. O, and trim the toenails you want to keep!

I hope you all enjoyed this how to! Please comment if you are currently a runner and there is any advice you’d like to add. Also comment with a song that gets you moving. Let’s make a playlist! For those starting out, congratulations on your choice! I will be addressing some more specific questions I received from a friend beginning his journey over on my YouTube channel. Feel free to check that out or comment below with any questions.

Now, go take that step.

-Meredith

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