Recently I took up running. While I love a good walk, hike, or yoga session, running has never appealed to me. I’ve always associated it with the annoyance I felt during my High School gym class when the teacher would have us run around the track in 30-degree weather yelling, “Looking good…” prompting us to reply with “Feeling good!” even though we felt anything but.
Running always seemed like a hardcore lesson in masochism. I see runners on the street completely red-faced and gasping for breath. I hear stories about runners blowing out their knees, throwing out their backs, or breaking an ankle from running. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could possibly enjoy running especially since most people look miserable doing it, but then again a lot of people run. Surely some of them enjoy it and don’t harm themselves, right? I admit I was intrigued, but still not enough to try it myself yet.
I woke up one sunny, Sunday morning antsy as hell. I did my yoga, sit-ups, push-ups, and lifted some weights. I still had an exorbitant amount of energy so I went for a run. Then the strangest thing happened: I actually enjoyed it! All the things that were once roadblocks I figured out how to overcome. I felt like I metaphorically stumbled upon secrets that afforded me the ability to love running, and I’m going to share them with you! These are all things I’ve experienced first-hand and how I’ve beaten them.
Roadblock 1: “I don’t want to spend a lot of money on running “stuff.”
Solution: Despite what many retailers may try to tell you, you don’t need much to take up running. The only thing that really matters is a good pair of shoes. I started running in a old pair of sneakers and noticed that I kept landing awkwardly, was getting fatigued, and my feet were just killing me by the end of my run. Then I got a good pair of running shoes and all of that changed. Save your money on cute, compression leggings or an expensive top with a funny exercise quote on it, and invest in a good pair of shoes.
Roadblock 2: “I get tired too quickly.”
Solution: Conserve your energy. Don’t focus on going fast. Take your time and go slowly. You’ll have way more energy and will be able to last longer if you go at the pace that works best for you.
Roadblock 3: “I can’t run that long because I’m always gasping for breath.”
Solution: Again, go slow. Running at a slower, consistent speed will allow you the ability to catch your breath more easily. You’ll still have moments where you feel like you’re breathing too hard. This is when I take 3 large, deep breaths–almost like I’m hyperventilating. I take in as much air as I can and quickly exhale. Do that 3-5 times and you’ll be breathing much more easily.
Roadblock 4: “My knees/back start hurting soon after I’ve started running.”
Solution: Make sure that you’re running on the balls of your feet. My inclination is to shuffle and pound my feet flat on the pavement, but I’ve noticed that this makes my knees ache. Instead pick up your feet, make sure you’re running as upright as you can, and gently touch the balls of your feet to the ground. Don’t pound the pavement.
Roadblock 5: “I never know when to stop running. How do I know when I’ve had enough?”
Solution: Stop running when your body tells you it’s time. For me it’s past the time when my thighs are burning, but before I feel like they’ve turned into jelly. Listen to your body. It’s going to enjoy exercising and you may be tempted to keep going, but your body also knows when it’s had enough. Stop when it tells you to.
Roadblock 6: “I’m always too sore after a run.”
Solution: Make sure you stretch before and especially after your run. Also don’t immediately sit down after a run. Take a shower, make a snack, or clean your apartment. I try to stay upright for at least 20-30 minutes after a run. This will help you cool down, and keep your muscles loose so they don’t atrophy and make you feel sore.
Roadblock 7: “Let’s say my first run was a success. How do I stay motivated to run every other day/few times a week?”
Solutions: 1. Download a fun running app, personally I like Runkeeper. It tracks your runs and gives you detailed stats. You can also set up your own personal goals and have it remind you to run, if that’s your thing.
2. Join a running group.
3. Figure out what time of day works best for you. Some people like to start their day with a run, while others prefer to run later in the day. Maybe you’re like me and like to switch it up. It’s up to you.
4. Do it because you remember the endorphin high you get afterwards. That feeling alone is the only motivation I have some days.
5. Run outside whenever possible, and give yourself something pretty to look at. My best runs are always the ones when I’m running along the water. Maybe your best runs are through a park, or down the urban sidewalks of downtown. Wherever you feel most at peace, go there.
What do you like most about running? What are some of the tricks you use to stay motivated?