There is no shortage of stories about the countless benefits of running. For its ability to improve your health, mood, and even extend your life (insert link here) running is undoubtedly the most popular exercise in the world. Of course, none of that really matters if it's something you hate to do. But there are a few simple steps that can make running truly enjoyable!
1. Get a physical!!!
Before you start any exercise regimen it is important to check with your doctor and get a complete physical including a nuclear stress test if you can afford it. I can't stress that enough!
2. Get fitted for some running shoes.
With running comfort is absolutely everything. And that starts with a good pair of shoes. Go to your nearest specialty store and get fitted for some running shoes. They will have you take your shoes and socks off and run on a treadmill and examine your running gait to see what kind of shoes will work with you best. Spend as much as you can afford. This is one area you really shouldn't skimp on. BTW, they will often try to sell you shoe inserts. I personally think they are a waste of money but it is up to you if you want to try it. Road Runner also has a discount club you can join for a fee (The first year is only 1.99). From time to time they have some pretty good discounts but it's their 90-day shoe trial that makes it worthwhile.
3. Get a good outfit!
Now that you got a great pair of sneakers (do people still use that word?!) it's time to get a good outfit to match. You can buy great gear from the same place you bought your shoes but it can get pretty expensive. Burlington Coat Factory, TJ MAX, and Marshalls are a great place to shop for running gear on a budget. Brand names matter when it comes to workout gear. Nike is my personal favorite but Under Armour, Asics, and Marmot are pretty good, too! And you can find great bargains at these outlets!
4. Getting started!
Now that you got your running gear it's time to start! There are tons of couch to 5k (insert link here) and they all work pretty well. I personally started with a brisk walk for 28 minutes followed by jogging for two minutes. Every four or five days I would substitute a minute of walking for a minute of running. If you have access to a treadmill then use one of the preset walking programs and add two or three minutes at the end of the routine!
5. Slow down!
One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting running (or any exercise, really) is running too fast or too long right away. While it may be tempting to push yourself to achieve quick weight loss those results don't often last very long. If you get tired, slow down or walk for a bit or more. I promise no one will think any less of you! The important thing is that you are out on the trails instead of sitting on a couch (more on this later!)
6. Tune it up!
A great playlist is an amazing way to pass the time and turn up your runner's high up another notch. Audio books are another way of making time pass by more quickly. Don't forget to change playlists often to keep everything fresh!
7. Change the scenery!
It's pretty easy to get lulled into routine day after day. But running is a great way to get to know your neighborhood and your neighbors! Change the trail often and see what else your city has to offer. And don't forget to stop and smell the roses every once in a while...literally. Enjoying the scenery around you is one of the best ways to enjoy running!
8. Rest, Rest, Rest!!!
While it may be tempting to run every day to achieve quick results it is also a sure way to get tired of running. Running every day can also lead to injuries as I learned the hard way! You need to give your body time to adjust to your new regimen. Running for 10 to 15 minutes every other day is a good way to start. Increase your time and mileage about 10% every two or three weeks.
9. Have fun!
As most runners will tell you running is mostly a mental activity. I know many runners like how they feel after the run rather than during but not me. I love every bit of my run from the very first step to the last. By preparing properly and slowing down a little you, too, can truly enjoy running and make it a lifelong activity to ensure that not only you get fit but stay fit as well!
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Disclaimer: I am in no way, shape, or form an expert on healthy living. The following is just what I did to get (and stay) in shape.