I've learned a lot of things about being an athlete the hard way. If I could go back and visit myself a dozen years ago, when I was just getting in to this whole running thing, there are a few words of wisdom I’d share with me. Many of the lessons below took me years to realize through growing as a runner myself, and the experience of working with so many runners just starting out. These are little reminders to keep with you as you stay on the road towards fitness, balance, and good health.
- Rome was not built in a day.
You need a lot of patience when learning to run. These days we’re tempted to buy into the promise of easy results, that staying the course to effect slow and steady changes becomes a tough sell. Patience brings the changes that really matter; the ones who alter the course of who you are and how you live - for the better.
- Slow down to get faster.
You should start off running slower than you can walk. Running is a higher impact activity than walking and your physical structure needs time to adapt. You will be able to go much farther on your run and in your life this way.
- Look like a runner, feel like a runner.
Too often people set out with clothes and shoes they don't mind “wrecking”. But high tech clothes are inexpensive and will make a world of difference to your comfort. Likewise, shoes with some cushion and tread left in them, made specifically for running, will help keep you injury free.
- Safety first.
Tell someone where you are going and when you'll be back, dress to be seen, and run defensively. Read more about staying safe out there, HERE
- It ain't always easy, but it's almost always worth it.
My worst runs often turn into my best. Just make an agreement with yourself to get out the door - you might just keep going… or you might not, at least you made the effort. Don’t stop before you start.
- We were all new when we started out.
And we all struggled through similar issues: even those who make it look effortless. Like they say, "You're lapping everyone on the couch."
- Celebrate achievements.
Ran around the block without stopping? Less winded on that last hill? Those are big accomplishments and signal that your body is getting stronger and fitter. Celebrate the small stuff by finding a positive to take home from each run.
- Take care of yourself.
Eat well, hydrate often, sleep lots. Cross train, stretch, and get massages if you can. Running will help you become more in-tune with your body.
- Make goals... based on what motivates you.
Some people are social runners, and live for post run coffee time and run time chats. Some people want to get faster, and live to analyze their split and pace times. Some people just like to feel healthy and energized, so spending some time each day to soak it up will keep them putting one foot ahead of the other. Events like races bridge these common goals, so don't forget to plan some into your year if that appeals to you.
10. Just do it.
After it’s all said and done, it's not really about setting goals, downloading fancy training programs, owning awesome trainers, or crushing races. It's about getting out there and running. So get out there and enjoy it!