Running sounds too intimidating? Get started , because anybody can run!
Have you ever heard the saying “I have never seen a runner smile while they are running”? This is most people’s mentality when presented with the opportunity to take a long jog. The burning of your lungs and legs often leads to people swearing they will never run again. But running can bring a feeling of accomplishment and joy second to none. So if you’re hoping to embark on the beautiful journey that is becoming a runner, we’ve outlined some of our top tips.
A perspective change: The first step to starting your running journey is changing your perspective. That burn you feel in your lungs and legs? That means you’re alive! What a blessing it is to be able to feel the invigorating feeling of being alive. The good news is that the serious discomfort only lasts a little while until your body starts to adapt. As humans we adapt to any stress placed on our body, which is also one of the main reasons we have stayed alive! The new distance you are pursuing will only be new and difficult until your body adapts to it, and then that becomes your warm-up before the real challenge. What a great way to be alive!
The principle of slow and steady:
The second step is adopting the quality of patience. Most people have the perception that if you cannot keep up with the car next to you, your running quest is useless. One thing to remember: you are running against yourself. Nobody knows your journey so they cannot look at you and comment on how slow you are going. Another aspect which is more physiologically orientated is that you need to keep your heart rate steady while you are running. As soon as you spike your heart rate too high, you will start producing lactic acid, which will be completely detrimental to your run and you will most likely not be able to go much further. Running at 60% of your maximum heart rate (for example, with a max HR of 200bpm you should run at a HR of 120bpm) is a good measure. This will keep you encouraged and eventually allow you to run further with less effort.
Become involved in a community that loves running.
From novices to ten-time Comrades runners, we all need each other. Step number 3 is surrounding yourself with like-minded people. They can share invaluable tips which can prevent you from making painful mistakes. They also offer up support and encouragement. Another thing to remember is that even the most experienced runner had to start from zero-zero knowledge, zero experience.
Find time to play with your runs. Do you enjoy running the full 3km or do you prefer to run 2 minutes and walk 30 seconds? Do you run for 3 lamp posts and then walk for 2 lamp posts? Do you Iike to run with music playing and with all the smart gadgets and cell phone apps to track your runs? Do you prefer running on the road, treadmills or trails? Do you like to run early in the morning before or after breakfast? Or are you more of a dusk runner before dinner? Over time you will realize what works for you, and in this process there may be a horrible run because you tried something that didn’t work for you. However, a bad run is better than no run. Even after that bad run, you still learnt something about yourself and can eliminate that option from your running routine.
And lastly, do a running race.
The atmosphere, the crowd, the spirit, the adrenaline…that is what running is about. You find a stranger on the way and by the end you are thick buddies. You may never see each other again, but for that race you meet someone new and interesting. You pushed your limits and conquered some fears. As soon as that running bug bites, there is no looking back…because who wants to run backwards anyway?
We hope this has been helpful and wish you all the best with your running journey! The best miles of your life are right in front of you, just don’t stop moving forward.
By Nicola Coetzee