New Year’s Eve seems to be an appropriate day to write about keeping resolutions. Every year at this time thousands of new people come to my websites because they make a resolution to start running. The truth is only a small percentage will succeed in achieving this goal in the medium term, and even fewer long term. However if you are determined to make running part of a new healthy lifestyle, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t achieve it. Here are my top ten tips to help you succeed.
- Your health needs to become as important as the other things in your life
So often I hear people say “I stopped running because life got in the way”. If you want to run long term, life cannot get in the way. Family, your job, your education are all important; however if you want to become healthy, the things that will make this a reality such as running need to become equally important. Do not compromise this.
- Do not listen to the excuses
For every run you will be able to find a an excuse not to run…don’t listen to them! “It’s too cold”, “too hot”, “too wet”, “too late”, “I’m on vacation”, “I don’t feel that well”, “too busy” are all excuses that may come to mind to stop you getting out the door. Unless you are injured or seriously ill…go and run!
- Stick to the program
If you are following a program like C25K, follow it as closely as you can. Take the rest days that are part of the program when they are due, run the distance / time recommended, do not do more than the program says. Part of learning to run is learning to become disciplined. Following the program is the first part of this. Ignore this and you will more than likely become injured.
- Don’t stick to the program
If you find you are not able to complete certain runs in a program because they are too difficult, repeat that day until you are able to achieve it. The C25K program for example is supposed to take nine weeks to complete. If it takes you eleven or thirteen weeks, that’s fine also.
- Slow down
One sure way to getting injured is to run too fast. As a beginner runner you should be running as slowly as possible. My advice is if it is physically possible to run slower than you are running, you are running too quickly. Starting running is not a race; once you have successfully run 5km, there’s plenty of time to improve your speed.
- Find inspiration and support
Not everyone may be supportive of your resolution to start running. Find inspiration and support by joining an online community such as the C25K forum.
- Find others to run with
Running with other people makes each run seem easier, plus if you are meeting someone else, it provides an additional commitment to make you get out and run. Find a local running group, my experience is runners are some of the friendliest people you are likely to meet.
- Get the right shoes
Staying injury free for as long as possible is really important, and one thing you can’t scimp on in this regard is your running shoes. The 10 year old joggers in the cupboard from K-Mart probably won’t do the job you need. Go to a proper running store and get fitted for a pair of shoes that matches your running style.
- Keep a record of your runs
After each run, record your distance, time and your thoughts on the experience in a running diary. This can be using one of the many online systems available such as Running Ahead, on your computer in something like Excel, or in a notebook.
- Do not stop because you have ignored one of the first 9 points in this list
On your running journey you will have many successes, as well as some failures. Don’t let the failures become an excuse to stop your running. If you do miss a few days here or there it’s not the end of the world…get out there and give it another go!