Your runs should not just be about putting on some running shoes and running at a park. There is a lot more to it if you’d like to sustain a long lasting healthy and happy running lifestyle. Here a few tips on how to handle your first runs and keep your motivation up.
Aim for Attainable Goals
Before you go out for your first run, set out a goal you want to reach for that day as well as a “long term” goal. These goals should be realistic and easily attainable, and these are different for everybody. For one person it might be to run 500M the first day and 5KM in 3 months, while another person might set 3KM for the day and run a full marathon within 12 months. Just make sure that you don’t overestimate your goals so your first run doesn’t end in disappointment.
Running slowly should be the golden rule for everybody. This is not just for the beginner level runners but also for the advanced runners. Even professional, world-class athletes do their training runs 20% to 40% slower than what they do in a race. (more on this, and how they achieve their speed and results while running slow will follow in a future episode). A good way to determine your pace is by talking while running; As long as you can have and hold a conversation while running, you are OK. If you feel you cannot talk anymore, either slow down (even if that means walking for a bit) or stop. If you are not under the guidance of a coach, the worst thing you can do is go full out and try to run as fast as you can.
Don’t expect miracles on your first runs. If you fail to reach your goal on your first run, reset your goals and try again. For example, if you planned to run 1KM but you only manage to do 700M, set 800M for your second run. This is more realistic and it you will end up feeling happy and proud that you achieved what you set out to do. Even if you fail on the second or third try, don’t give up. On the next try, go slower or set a shorter goal.
Don’t Give in to Peer pressure
No two people are the same and this is also true for running. One person might be able to go for a 3KM run on their first go, while you might struggle to get 500M in. While it may sound good that you have friends cheering you on and convincing you that you can do 3KM too, don’t give in to that pressure, and stick to your own goals and your own pace. The best supporters are those that encourage you to reach your goals.
Take a Break
As a beginner runner it is best not to run on 2 or more consecutive days. Your body needs to recover from those new activities and get used to running. Once you have been running for a while (up to 6 months to a year), you can slowly step it up to 4 or 5 times a week. But even then, rest is just as important as running itself.
Get a Coach
Whether it is fitness, gym, aerobics, or Yoga, these activities require coaching, especially if you are a beginner. This is also true for running. A coach can help you set your goals with more precision, help you reach them faster, and guide you through your journey of becoming a runner. Your individual processes may vary from what was described above, but the main aspects will be applicable to anyone.
The Happy Pacer series plans to bring you all sorts of information about running on a bi-weekly basis. In episode 4, we will take a look at some terminology that you might encounter when reading about running or when talking to more experienced runners. Keep following!