You are reading this post because you want to start running. Nice. Running is a great sport. The reason why I particularly like it is because of its simplicity. You don’t need to invest a whole lot of money in order to start running; there’s no need for a gym membership, or any expensive equipment. All you need is a body that can withstand the shocks that result from stamping your feet against the ground.
Now, I’m not certified to offer any kind of medical advice, so I’m only going to share what I’ve personally learned from running. (And I’m still a beginner.)
Although you can choose to run barefoot, I recommend that you get yourself a decent pair of running shoes just to avoid unnecessary injuries. Barefoot running requires conditioning and is not recommended for beginners. For a newbie it’s extremely important to start safe, because once you get injured it can take months to recover and get back in the game. Every person’s feet are different so you’ll have to do some research online or ask the store staff which type of shoe to buy.
When you have your gear in order, it’s time to start.
Don’t Exhaust Yourself
Did it ever happen to you that when you decided to try running—perhaps because you thought you were in poor shape—and got out the door, you found yourself 15 minutes later completely nauseated and about to throw up? It happened to me several times. But I can assure you that it doesn’t have to be that way at all.
No human is born a runner. If you’ve spent the last two years working a desk job with most of your exercise consisting of walking to the train station and back, even 10 minutes of running can make you feel like your lungs are about to burst.
Don’t start like that.
When you first start out, it’s important that you acknowledge what kind of physical shape you are in. Being thin doesn’t mean that you automatically possess high endurance. Endurance needs to be developed over time. If you haven’t run a single mile in the last six months, you need to start with humble objectives.
First, see if you can keep running for 5 minutes. (You’ll need a stopwatch.) And don’t start as if you were going for a 100m dash. That will only wear you out and make you nauseous like before. Start slow. Focus on finding a pace where you can run comfortably, and see if you can reach that 5-minute goal. If you really concentrate on maintaining comfort, you will be able to do it.
When you’ve completed your first goal, stop. Keep walking, and allow yourself to be proud of what you’ve just accomplished. Do you feel nauseated? Was it as bad as last time? Meditate on it. You were able to finish running without feeling like crap; and that’s how it’s supposed to be. Running should never make you feel sick. If it does, you’re exceeding your limits—and you should slow down.
Next time you go running, set yourself a new goal: try running comfortably for 10 minutes. Always be conscious of your speed, and keep it steady. If you start to feel signs of exhaustion, slow down, and readjust.
After each run, record the results, and jot down a few lines on your performance. Comment on how you felt during and after the workout.
Keep setting new challenges for yourself, but keep them realistic. It’s also fun to set a long-term goal (e.g. “complete 5K”) and see how you progress. If you can’t accomplish it in due time, don’t worry—keep working on it.
Just one important word of advice: Don’t strain your ankles and knees. It’s incredibly easy to damage your joints, so you should run short distances at the start, and make increments as your body becomes stronger. Whenever you feel even the slightest pain in your joints, stop, and give your body plenty of days recover. Never force yourself to finish that last mile.
If your purpose is to lose weight, try to let go of that thought for a moment, and instead focus on developing your technique and mentality. The weight-loss will take care of itself, but what’s more important is to acquire a positive taste for running. Don’t run because you want to lose weight, do it because it’s enjoyable and rewarding in itself.