This question has come up a few times at work so I thought I would address it here. I think I get asked how to start running for these reasons,
- It is obvious running is important to me
- I do not look like a runner or an athlete.
- I run often and have sometimes run far, but I am not fast and I do not win.
It is clear I am not great at running, I do not get any obvious reward from running and I do not have a body made for running, yet I run and often proclaim to love running.
Maybe, there is more to it… so I get asked,
‘Stacey, how can I start running?’
Some truths about what I know about starting running.
1. Starting running is uncomfortable.
Running makes you out of breath, your lungs hurt! Who knew lungs could hurt?! I remember thinking my legs would hurt before my lungs would!
Running can make you feel self conscious. I still feel self conscious sometimes running, like should I be thinner if I am a runner? or faster? Should my face be this red or sweating? Are these shorts too short? Is my top too pink?
There is mental discomfort, a running mind commentary that won’t shut up! How far? how long? how much more?
All these things can happen. Stick it out.
- it is ok to walk when the running gets too hard, recover and start running again (but still push yourself to get out of breath and break a sweat!)
- have music to shut up negative mind speech.
- For the women invest in a high impact sports bra, I like shock abosrber.
- Run with a friend.
- Have a loop door to door to keep things simple.
- Do a bit of strength work to help prevent injury (try the 7 min work out app or just do some squats and some clamshell exercise)
Be prepared for discomfort IF it does arrive. Discomfort is ok.
The discomfort will normally leave after 10 – 15 mins of running. Push through it.
After 3 weeks of running, discomfort will leave. But be prepared, if you miss 3 weeks of running to start those 3 weeks of discomfort again.
2. Starting running gives a sense of freedom
A run commute with work clothes in a back pack or a post work jog even though it is dark and raining out. Doing not what you would normally expect of yourself.
When you let go of the worries, the expectations, accept the sweating, the out of breath and the discomfort, it is freeing.
3. Starting running gives you strength
Both body and mind will get stronger. Your lungs and heart will be stronger. Your determination will be stronger. Your legs, stomach, shoulders, ankles will be stronger.
Running gives you time to think, or for some, time to stop thinking. The opposite of stress is awe. Running gets you outdoors, under beautiful changing skies and light. In fields, trees or just running round your neighbourhood. Be awed by your surroundings, by running you are a part of them.
How can I start running?
You can start running, by putting on trainers (and for females a sports bra) and anything comfortable, by opening the door and just try running until you can’t bare the discomfort anymore. Then walk some. Once comfortable enough to run again, run again.
Keep going, don’t stop and give it time.
Three weeks. Keep going.
Explore. Commute. Race. parkrun. Or just keep running that loop round the block by your home.
And if you stop. Start again.
2 thoughts on “How can I start running?”
Thanks for this. My issue is getting out the door. The discomfort is definitely a bugger when I have run before, but you are right- It will go. Furthermore, I should say I am probably viewed as being the ‘right’ shape for running. This seems to leave expectations & this therefore adds preasure to me. I don’t think it’s easy getting past how you look, whatever shape you are, if it affects you then it’s just a case of trying to ignore it.
I’ve no mates to ask to help get me started and I’m too shy to join a club right now. Incredibly frustrated with myself! (Which doesn’t help the mood, multiplies the negative thoughts, builds more anxiety and increases the lack of energy which stops you ever thinking running is even possible)!
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Thanks so much for writing, I did wonder if should I address motivation in this post. We are all different, but look back into how you have motivated yourself in the past to attempt things you were anxious about starting.
For me, I have 4 strategies that get me running.
1. Run as soon as I get in from work. I literally leave my running kit laid out and change straight into it after I walk into my house and then go straight out running. Don’t think about it, no TV, no sitting down or talking to anyone, just kit on and get out the door!
2. Sign up for a race. The fear of running under prepared gets me out the door and a reason to run.
3. Put myself in a situation where I have no choice but to run. For me this is walk to work and run home. Another example is buy a train ticket to one stop before yours and run the last stop, or get off the bus early or get a lift to work and run home. Run commute is all about logistics, I find preparing the day before so my work clothes are already at work.
4. Have a run date booked with Someone or lunch run with a colleague as I won’t want to let them down.
My friend’s method was that she found a group of ladies in her town on Facebook who met up to run. This was a lot lower key than a running club and she found it really friendly.
A lot of it is in your head, keep to facts, no one will be judging you but your self. Be kind to your self. Start small, just 5-10 mins after work or first thing on a weekend morning. If you manage a couple of times a week for a couple weeks up the time to 15-20mins. Set your own goals, they can be run 5k once a week or run a mile three times a week. Whatever works for you!
Hope that helps? It’s all about making it a habit and making it easy to run and hard to not go run!
Feel free to post again on how you progress 🙂 I would be interested to hear what you find works for you.