(Originally Posted on Medium.Com)
Okay, so my title has two meanings. The first is that my last article talked more about running consistently but less about how to begin running, so I am trying to supplement that article since it’s title was misleading (just a little). The second meaning is because many of us have vowed to begin running either fail to keep going or keep putting it off (maybe because it’s unclear how to start). This article is to help you as you begin to run.
I really feel if you are truly new to running and want to make it part of your life, you should address a couple things right away: 1) visit your doctor and tell him you want to begin running, just so he/she knows and sort of gives you permission to do so, because running is a strenuous activity. It is a good idea to have that piece of mind of your doctor’s blessing. 2) Find your local running store and go there to buy a pair of shoes. Tell them you are just beginning, and you would like help in selecting your first pair of shoes. What they should do (leave if they don’t do what I’m about to type) is request that they watch you walk/run to evaluate your running gait, the placement of your feet (under/overpronator ), etc. in order to recommend the best type of running shoe for you. From there, they should be able to have you try out at least 2–3 pairs of running shoes and watch you run in them. Now, you will not get this kind of evaluation at big box stores. More than likely, the owner of the running store is (or was) a runner.
After this, there are some optional items (and maybe some required). You should invest is some running attire. You don’t have to, but you will be way more comfortable in wicking shirts and running shorts. Depending on how far you want to run, you might need additional gear. For example, in hot weather, if you are running pretty long (6+ miles), you might want to take liquids along. So a handheld water bottle or a hydration belt is a must for these types of long runs. If you want to track your monthly miles or pace, etc., then you might want to buy a GPS watch. You might want to buy some headphones and a phone holder for your runs (be careful with headphones while running!). The list of accessories is actually pretty long. Running isn’t necessarily a cheap sport (especially if you do races!).
Now you are ready to begin running, maybe. If you are a pretty active person and in decent physical shape, you are probably ready to run. But if you have been sedentary, not exercising, dormant, then you should maybe begin by combining walking with running. I would recommend slowly building up the miles. Here is an example of a schedule that worked for me:
Week 1: Run 3 days (every other day or so — M,W,F).
Monday — between 0.5 miles — 1 mile
Wednesday — 0.5 miles — 1 mile
Friday — 1 mile (if not feeling too sore from M,W)
Week 2 — M,W,F — 1 mile run each day
Week 3 — M,W,F — 1 mile, 1 mile, 2 miles
Week 4 — M,W,F — 1 mile, 1.5 miles, 2 miles
And then you would just keep gradually adding miles like this, 3–4 days of running per week. You can pick the days that work best for you, but I would just try to have a rest day in between runs starting out. Oh, and stretch after runs- very important! This is a really conservative approach to beginning running, but it is important to build slowly to avoid injury. Once that base is built, you can increase mileage, but follow the 10% rule (rough guideline) to not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% of total miles per week. Everyone is different, and age, weight, athleticism, previous injuries, etc. all play a role in how quickly one can progress and build up mileage. But these are guidelines recommended by a lot of running experts. Being prone to injury (shin splints), I was unable to get past injury until I finally backed off miles, and built up miles slowly using an approach like this (and now I am running marathons).
My final thoughts relate more to the first article I wrote, which is how to keep running once you start. I think it is really important to have running goals and challenges. Challenge yourself to hit obtainable milestones, and once you do, celebrate and move on to the next milestone. Your goal could be really simple like just wanting to be more active. Whatever it is, define it for yourself and strive to meet it. Good luck!