Getting out for a run starts with a first step in the right direction. Here are 10 ways you can put your best foot forward.
1. Start small. You can’t expect to run 10 km your first time out. Ease into your routine with a gradual run/walk ratio. Run for two minutes, walk for one, run for another two, etc. When you’re comfortable with that, move to three minutes, then four. Start with 20 or 30 minutes – as you get better, your pace will pick up and you’ll be able to run farther in less time.
2. Invest in a good pair of shoes. Running in an old pair of sneakers or shoes that are meant for a different sport can lead to injury. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but try to shop at a store where the salespeople are knowledgeable about running and can assess your gait.
3. Focus on form. When you’re running, look ahead (not at your feet) and don’t let your chin jut out. Don’t hunch; keep your shoulders relaxed and level. Running tall keeps your torso straight, which maximizes your lung capacity and your stride.
4. Get outside. Running outdoors has a lot of benefits that a treadmill doesn’t. You have things to look at, you get to breathe fresh air, you can explore interesting neighbourhoods, and your stride is healthier and more natural.
5. Be accountable. For many of us, staying the course requires external accountability – like another person who expects us to show up and run. Pair up with a friend or join a running group; an online search will net you several possibilities, from store-sponsored workshops to community groups.
6. Don’t run every day. Three to four times a week (on non-consecutive days) is a good start. Give your body a break to recover between workouts by resting or doing another form of exercise like swimming, yoga or strength training.
7. Schedule it in. Don’t leave your run to when you have time. Commit to running on specific days, at specific times.
8. Have a goal. Your goal should be manageable and achievable, something to work towards.
9. Crank the tunes. Great music can really help you get moving, and it makes any run more fun. Create a playlist with your favourite fast songs, put your headphones on and go. Do a quick online search for songs to set your pace.
10. Just get out the door. Don’t feel like running? Tell yourself you’ll just run for five minutes. If you’re still struggling after that first five, go home. But chances are, once you’re out, you’ll be motivated to keep going.
Please always check with a medical professional to ensure these strategies are right for you.