Becoming a runner when you’ve never been anything but a cheerleader can be quite the feat, but I have managed to stick with my running goal thus far. My friend and I finally decided on the half marathon we’ll do, and even decided to run a 10k a few months before the half to make sure we’re on track.
Here’s how I became a runner in 5 steps:
- Get Support. Let your family, friends, or the world know that you want to try this and that you have set goals that you plan on accomplishing. I told my family right away and my grandpa’s initial response was, “But, you’re not a runner.”… This may happen, so be prepared to tell people off if they don’t believe in you. I simply responded with, “That doesn’t mean I can’t be”, and he shut right up. I also told my best friend that I wanted to run a half marathon and turns out it was one of her long time goals too! So we decided to do it together. Since I work at a YMCA, I told my coworkers as well and they have all been really supportive. But ultimately, building a support network not only helps you knowing that people care, it also holds you accountable. My coworkers ask me all the time, “How’s the running going?” This shows that they truly care about my goals and it keeps me accountable because I’m not willing to tell them I quit.
- Invest in the Proper Materials. My first week of running was rough because I was struggling with shin splints. I knew that my beat-up dust-covered shoes just weren’t cutting it. I needed to invest in actual tennies that were meant for running. $50 later, I no longer get those shin splints. I also needed a few more pairs of yoga pants and since I shop at consignment stores, those weren’t hard to find. Another friend of mine suggested that I downloaded a few running apps on my phone to track my progress (my friend and I use Runkeeper, but there are tons on the market) so I did that too.
- Start out Slow. Since I was never a runner, I started out just running as much as I could for 30 minutes on the treadmill in my basement. Guess how much distance I ran in that very first treadmill run… 1.67 miles. Not even 2 miles in 30 minutes. I felt pathetic. But I didn’t let that stop me. It left a lot of room for improvement so I knew I would get better. And in time, I did. Now my average mile time is about 12 minutes -and I’m still working on reducing that.
- Listen to Your Body. There are definitely days when I just don’t feel like running. But there are also days when I really look forward to it. Just listen to your body and do what it allows. Sometimes I can really push myself to the next mile, but there are also times when I know my body needs a break. Stay hydrated and hone in on what your body is trying to tell you to avoid injury, and if you do get injured, take the proper time to heal before continuing.
- Never Give Up. I have created a strong support system and have made progress toward my goal. Even though that progress may have been slow, it’s still progress. Being able to see that I am getting better has significantly helped to motivate me to keep going. And I know that I won’t be able to accomplish my half marathon goal if I quit now. Even if you are struggling to continue, keep pushing through. It only gets easier with time.