If you’ve visited the Lazy W much this past year, then you know I love running. I fell in love with it almost two years ago and have been fumbling through my own mile-addicted adventure ever since.
Whether I am qualified to give you running advice is questionable, but without a doubt I can tell you all about how to get it under your skin. How to open your body and soul to the possibilities.
How to fall in love with one of the most beneficial things that you all by yourself can do in this life.
#1. Give it a fair shake. Brand new to running and already convinced you hate it? Please wait. Do not sell yourself short by struggling through one awkward, wheezing mile then declare running just isn’t for you. You know the millions of physical and mental benefits, right? Why did you start? Don’t you believe people who say that running makes them happier overall? Just get past the weird beginnings, trust me. My beginnings were extremely weird. And still I often need three miles to warm up for a five mile run. Even well seasoned ultra runners are known to say “Never judge a run by the first three miles.”
Three miles. That is about half an hour of warm up, and it is SO worth it! If you are even a little bit interested in this amazing new chapter of life, then please give it a fair shake. Nibble at it. Seek support. Try different methods. Get the long view and grow a funny bone, because you will make yourself laugh. A lot.
#2. Find your own running buttons and push them. Everyone is different. Running may seem painfully routine looking in from the outside, but there is a deep inner world there, a vast ocean of thought and feeling that you get to explore every time you lace up. (Maybe that’s why so many writers are also runners. Huh.)
And there are a hundred thousand variations for runners to discover. Do you listen to music, or keep the rhythmic silence? Run alone or with friends? Trail, track, or treadmill? Cold weather or hot? Morning, noon, or night? Try lots of different combinations until you discover your sweet spot, then max out! Enjoy yourself. Then shake things up again, enjoy some variety. Then go back to your reliable routines again. My favorite running blogger The Monican has lots of fun ideas to offer but always goes back to this smart mantra: You do YOU. Amen.
#3. Stock up on inspiration for a rainy day. Even deep into your own running obsession, far past your first big runner’s high, you’ll have dry days. You’ll have mornings when you had planned to run but WOW something else sounds better. Or you question the benefits. Or you just need new ideas. Be ready for those days by making little collections of motivational words, images, and info-graphics.
Ever heard of Pinterest? I have like three boards that revolve around fitness, but one in particular serves running alone. I refer to it when I can feel my feet dragging or my thoughts going negative. Maybe you’d rather have an old-fashioned vision board, complete with cork and push pins and glossy magazine pages! Know thyself and motivate thyself.
#4. Set a fun goal (or two or three) and make them known to loved ones. This is pretty standard advice offered for all kinds of new endeavors, and it almost sounds cheesy, but cheesy stuff tends to work! My advice for new runners who want to build enthusiasm? Look for a snazzy 5-K or a half marathon and register. Pay the money so you’re committed. Then on your calendar count the necessary training weeks backwards from the event date and pencil in your workout plan for every week. (Hal Higdon is a great source of advice for training.) And record what miles you run against that plan. Get consistent. Blab about it to your friends to the point they are mildly annoyed.
Last March I was close to burnout for different reasons, and had I not made my goal of “running my first full marathon at forty” so public to people who really love me, I might have backed out. I am SO GLAD I didn’t back out. What a sad thing that would have been. Concrete goals made public are effective!
#5. Always go one more. One more mile, one more song, one more lap, one more day… However you’re measuring your frustration at any given point, try going just one more past where you want to. Remember that running is largely in your head, maybe more so than in your body; so take every opportunity to strengthen your mind. It will improve your life in so many ways. Do more than what you think you can do. Over and over, bit by bit, you will be amazed.
So that’s my advice if you are thinking of a wonderful new running obsession but need the final nudge. If you do these five things: Give it a fair shake, find a groove, stay inspired, set goals publicly, and go beyond your own expectations… I am pretty sure you will fall in love with running. And running will always love you back.
And then we can grab some miles together sometime!
Now you tell me. If you’re a runner already, what advice would you give a newbie? If you need some nudging, what’s on your mind? What’s holding you back from starting, or what’s slowing you down?
Run while you can.