Once upon a time, I was seemingly the most unathletic kid in the world. I got my running start when I joined my high school track and cross country teams at 16, and I now regularly run long-distance races and have hopes of someday qualifying to run the Boston Marathon. But I certainly didn’t just
Once upon a time, I was seemingly the most unathletic kid in the world. I got my running start when I joined my high school track and cross country teams at 16, and I now regularly run long-distance races and have hopes of someday qualifying to run the Boston Marathon. But I certainly didn’t just wake up one day with the ability to run a 5k, let alone a marathon.
So if you are interested in finding your running start, here’s some tried and true advice. Beginners, keep in mind your journey toward becoming a runner is, figuratively speaking, a marathon and not a sprint.
Don’t pile on too much too soon. When I decided to give running a try, I started with a few minutes of running with walking breaks, eventually building up to one, two and three miles. Be patient and give yourself time. You will eventually get stronger, run longer and avoid injury. The popular online Couch-to-5k plan (www.active.com/mobile/couch-to-5k-app) has proven to be successful for many beginning runners.
Do invest in one key item: shoes. If you plan to run consistently, wearing appropriate shoes is non-negotiable. Worn-out shoes are one of the most common causes of injuries, so shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles. While it’s not a bad idea to at least get fitted at a specialty store (Fleet Feet and Luke’s Locker are great local options in the Houston area), you often can find your chosen pair of shoes at a lower cost on sites such as runningwarehouse.com and shoebuy.com.
Don’t become preoccupied with pace. When you’re just starting out, the last thing you want to do is go out as hard as you can. Whether your long-term goal is to race competitively or simply maintain fitness, you main goal from the beginning should be to build endurance while remaining injury-free.
Don’t get discouraged by slow progress. Again, your main goal is to build endurance without getting hurt. It’s normal to have to stop frequently when learning to run your first mile, or to have difficulty running a few minutes without feeling out of breath when first starting out. We all start somewhere. Piling on too much too soon commonly leads to injuries such as shin splits, iliotibial (IT) band syndrome and runner’s knee, as well as plain old burnout. You don’t want to sideline yourself before you’ve barely gotten started.
Do differentiate between pain and discomfort. Occasional muscle aches and soreness are to be expected, especially when first starting out. But if you experience sharp, persistent pain that possibly gets worse with walking, take a step back and rest for a few days.
By Emilia Benton