Runners… sheesh. They’re all so fit and happy and how the heck do they stay so motivated?! Let’s be honest, you want to be a runner don’t you? The good news is it’s very easy to be a runner. Will you be fit, happy, and motivated? Well, that’s up to you. The good news is you don’t really need to be any of those things to become a runner, but all three can be wonderful benefits of running. Here’s a quick run-down (boom) on how to become a runner.
1. Sign Up For a 5k Race
Don’t think about it, because you’ll talk yourself out of it. Go online and find a 5k race that is in your local area that is at least 2 months out. Register for the race NOW! Once you’ve registered for the race you are WAY more likely to prepare for and run it. You don’t want to waste all those precious greenbacks!
2. Wear The Right Shoes & Clothes
Shoes: Think those 5 year old sneakers you wear to the mall and the gym will be fine? Think again. You don’t need to spend a fortune for your first pair, but you do need to make sure you have a quality pair of running shoes. Sneakers might look fine from the outside, but the fact is, the support wears down over time. A good supportive pair of shoes will help keep your feet comfortable and injury free.
Clothes: Be mindful of the clothes you wear too. If you’re not accustom to running, you will find out the hard way about chaffing and just how heavy a cotton t-shirt can be! Consider a pair of compression shorts to keep your thighs from trying to start a fire… you’ll thank us for this one. Also, wear a moisture wicking t-shirt that dries quickly. It will keep you cool, and face it, running is hard enough, let alone carrying all that hot sweat with you.
3. Don’t Worry About Your Pace
You’re a beginner… you’re going to be as slow as internet in the 90’s. And that’s 100% OK! You can’t expect to go out there and break the land-speed record from the beginning. Start with a Walk/Run regiment that works for your fitness level. Run for 30, 60, or 90 seconds, then walk for 30, 60, or 90 seconds. Whatever works for you. Then just repeat this throughout your initial runs. You’ll find that over just a few runs, the running portion gets easier. Then slowly start decreasing your walking time. Soon, you’ll find that you can run very slowly, but for a long period of time. Don’t worry about your pace at all. That will come in time.
4. Believe “I Am A Runner!”
I run therefor I am. OOOMMMMM. Dang that’s deep! You don’t have to run every day, place in a race, or complete a marathon to be a runner. All you have to do is commit to running as often as you want and stick with it. Who cares what your pace is or how far you can run; be proud that you are lapping everyone on the couch! When you believe you’re a runner, you’re a runner. First place or last place is a runner all the same. Don’t you forget it!
5. Breathe In Through Your Nose, Out Through Your Mouth
Remember when you were a kid, and you’d run during gym class or recess and you’d get a side stitch or side cramp? Yeah… that’s still a thing. If you don’t warm up and breath right you’ll learn that pretty quick. A couple of quick stretches and a brisk walk for a few minutes will do the trick. When it comes to breathing; try and breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. This allows you to fully expand your lungs, take in more oxygen, and avoid those side stitches. If you’re winded and don’t feel like you get enough air through your nose alone, breathe in with a combination of your nose and mouth. You’ll find you can breathe deeper than just with your mouth alone.
6. Pick a Training Plan… And Stick With It!
There are a gazillion running plans online for all distances and all abilities. Find a running plan online that works for you. If you are starting with a 5k, (which we strongly suggest) you can start slow and you’ll see how well your body responds to the plan. Your legs will start to feel stronger, you won’t be getting as winded, and your mind will be tougher; instead of doubting whether you can do it, you’ll know you can. Next thing you know, it’s race day and you’re ready.
7. Build Your Mileage Slowly
You don’t want to push yourself to go too far too fast. This is how injuries happen. You should build your distances slowly over time. Follow your plan from tip 6. The last thing you want to do is push your body beyond what it’s prepared for, get injured, and let your training an motivation go out the window.
8. Join a Running Group
The running community is full of amazing people. They’re all so supportive and just as crazy as you are. I mean come on, who runs?! But seriously, you’ll find runners of all ability levels in these groups. The quicker ones may be off to the races, but the mortal folks and beginners tend to stick together. Even if you are very slow, or still employing a Walk/Run method, you’ll quickly find other runners are happy to slow it down and do it with you. We guarantee this is the best way to stay motivated and make friends.
9. Sign Up For Another Race!
Congratulations, you’ve completed your first race! During the race you probably thought “I am not a runner! This is not for me! I will never do another race again!”. But then you crossed the finish line with all the other people that were thinking the same thing. You ate a banana. You got your finisher’s medal. And then you went home, got on your computer to look up another race! It happens to all of us, and now we’re hooked too. But the secret to staying motivated is the same secret as how you got started, just find a race and sign up for it. Running is use it or lose it. If you fail to keep at it or let too much time go by before you sign up for another race, you risk losing the stamina and motivation you’ve built up.
9.5. Support Other Runners
Now that you are officially a runner and you’ve ran at least one race… Be a cool runner. Support other runners as much as you can. Even if you can run faster, you notice someone in a running group running slow and alone, go run with them. You see someone having a hard time during a race, tell them “Hey! You’ve got this!” as a little encouragement. Give a few runners a high five after a race and tell them “great job!”. You are part of the running community now and you wasn't all those newbies to feel welcome!