Hey, everyone! It’s Courtney here. Recently my sister and I started training for a 5K. We’re participating in The Comeback Circle and wanted an affordable way to get ourselves back in shape. A little over a year ago, my friend Kolbe started entering races and making running a bigger part of her life, so it made sense to ask her for some tips for new runners to help get me started.
Read her advice below if you’re planning to start a brand-new running routine or if you’re returning to the habit after some time away. Over the past few weeks, she’s helped me stick to my plan, and these tips have made my transition a lot more manageable!
My whole life I’ve dabbled in sports. I was mainly a dancer, but I also played tennis, basketball, track, volleyball, and golf. I was never a superstar, but I enjoyed staying active. In November of 2014, I decided I was going to get back into running and stick with it this time.
Since then, I’ve completed a 5K where I placed in my age group, three 10Ks, and a half marathon. With the support of my friends and local running community, I now consider myself officially a runner.
Getting started was tough, but I’ve learned a lot along the way. At first, it was mainly trial and error, and then I began researching and learning from others. And now, I’d like to share these tips and help motivate you to start your running and fitness journey!
Invest in the Right Shoes
I’ll be the first to admit that I never paid much attention to the shoes I purchased for running. As a result, my running suffered. I was in pain, my form was terrible, and I wasn’t motivated to continue. Once I took the time to go to a running store and have my gait analyzed, I got the right pair of shoes (I need stability/guidance shoes), and my running immediately improved.
I didn’t reach all my goals right away, of course, but running was enjoyable again, and the pain in my hips and lower back was gone since my arches now had the proper support. There are lots of crazy purchases you can make as a runner, but for those who are just starting out, or getting back into it, the correct pair of shoes is where you should invest your money.
For those of you who might be wary of cost, be sure to talk to the employees at the running store you visit for options in varying prices. Also, try seeing if they have last year’s brand on sale.
Create a Training Plan
As with most things, you need a plan of action in order to be successful, especially if you’re just starting out. When I started, my goal was to run a 10K. That helped me tailor my training plan to best suit my needs. Once I completed my 10K, I shifted my goals to focus on hitting a certain pace and increasing my endurance to build toward my half marathon. As with the 10K, my training plan shifted as well. Once you have set your goal, it will be much easier to select or develop a training plan.
A lot of beginning runners start by using the Couch to 5K app, but there are many types of training plans available online, or the employees at running stores can easily get you a plan too! Also, if you haven’t worked out in a while or are 20 pounds or more overweight, it’s best to check with your general physician before getting started. Better safe than sorry! I’m sharing my weekly training plans on my personal blog, and it can easily be modified to suit your own needs.
Set a Goal
Maybe your goal is to run for 30 minutes without stopping. Or you can set a goal to race in a 5K or 10K. For the adventurous types, why not sign up for a half marathon that is a few months away?
Having a goal will motivate you to stick with your plan. The best goals for me have been races. Once I paid for a race and told all my friends what I was planning to do, there was no way I could back out! Currently, I’m working toward getting my pace down to an 8-minute mile and increasing mileage to complete a marathon in 2017.
Whatever your goal for running is, be sure to share it on social media or with your friends to keep you accountable. Or you can tweet at me and we can cheer each other on (@kolbejack). Post some motivational quotes around your house to keep you focused, too!
Everything is better with a friend, exercise included! If you want someone to run with, try to find a friend who runs the same pace as you, or a smidge faster to push yourself. The whole point of a partner is to have someone who sticks with you, not leaves you in the dust. Most of my friends in Austin don’t enjoy running, so I run solo. I do however keep in touch with my dad and how his training is going, and we check in on each other using the app Runkeeper.
Another way I’ve trained with friends is at a local high school track. Courtney and her sister Erin came with me and we all ran sprints at our own sprint pace. But we could see each other around the track and then commiserate when we were exhausted at the end of our workout.
I also joined a few running groups with my local running store, Texas Running Company. They have weekly runs, and also feature some special events like group runs sponsored by Brooks, Saucony, and other brands where you get to try out the shoes, run with friends, and hit up happy hour afterward.
We’re not planning to fail here, y’all. We’re simply preparing ourselves for the fact that our bodies don’t always perform the way we want or expect them to.
For example, I never understood what it meant to mentally train yourself until I reached my first running roadblock during my 10K in Kemah. I knew I was performing so poorly because my mind—my resolve—were weak, not my body. I still can’t quite explain it, but since that race, I’ve learned some mantras that I repeat to myself when I’m training (and even racing) to keep my brain from giving up. Even if it’s something lighthearted like, “Feet, you don’t hurt! Keep going!” It’s 100% true when people say that your mind gives out before your body. When the failure does happen, find a way to use that to fuel your training. Maybe it will show you an area where you need more practice, or you realize that yes, I do need to eat breakfast before I run. If you mentally prepare yourself to realize that you aren’t necessarily going to start where you want to start, or perform like you want to perform, it’ll be much easier to overcome when you do hit those road bumps (figuratively, only!)
When I set out to become a runner, learning and following this advice helped me to stay consistent and push through even the hardest training sessions. One thing that I love about the running community is that it is one of the most supportive groups I’ve known. The most important part is getting out on the track, the trail, or the road and feeling proud of what you’ve accomplished. One of the quotes that has motivated me the most is, “Running is not about being better than someone else, it’s about being better than you used to be” (source unknown).
Do you have any tips for new runners? Share them in the comments below!
Kolbe is a middle school teacher and former journalist from Austin, TX. She blogs at Kolbe Writes. She loves discovering people’s incredible stories and sharing them with others. Her goal is to stay curious and learn all she can. She’s also never met a margarita she didn’t like!