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New Runners: Why You Should Push Through

Posted Oct 16 2012 9:11am
This post is specifically directed at newer runners - or those getting back into it. I get a lot of questions especially from new runners wanting to get into it but struggling with the early stages of running so I thought I'd put together a post on the topic. 

Running my first race in February 2011

I coach new runners and a junior high cross country running team and I find the same issues over and over again with new runners. This was something I struggled with when I was getting started too: getting (and staying motivated)! 

1. Stick through the tough stuff

Most runners LOVE running - but that part doesn't happen right away. I think a lot of people expect to head out for a run and feel like a kid again, running liberated down the road, all stresses of the day melting away as the wind whips through your hair.... 


That part of running will come - eventually! Running isn't easy at first, and to be honest, it really isn't all that enjoyable until you build up a certain cardio fitness base! Even if you're otherwise fit, running takes  a pretty solid fitness base and I think people don't stick through running because it's very difficult and not that fun until you build up your fitness (which only happens if you stick with it!). 

The best advice I got when I was starting was to tough out this part and keep running. Try to run at least 3 times a week, even if it's a walk-run program and for a total of 20 minutes each time you get out the door. I PROMISE it gets easier and more enjoyable! Not every run will be a great one - but the ones that are make the crappy ones (and those tough early few weeks of running!) TOTALLY worth it! Stick with it!

2. Don't Push Too Hard!

When you're just getting started, it's important not to push yourself too hard. Many new runners make the mistake of thinking they have to be all-out running in order to be a 'real' runner. Not true. 

In fact, I tell my runners that if you can't talk to the person next to you or you can't get a full sentence out, you're pushing too hard. In the early stages, you want to be focusing on building endurance and just getting out there. If you push too hard you're just going to hate running, and/ or get injured. Worry about getting faster later on- in the early weeks, just focus on putting in the time and run at a pace you can handle. 

If you run, you are a runner no matter how fast, if you run marathons or if you're working on running for 2 minutes before you need a walk break. Tell anyone who tries to tell you otherwise to blow it out their.... well, this is a [mostly] PG blog. Finish that one however you wish ;-)

3. Don't Compare Yourself

When you're getting started, be proud that you are making a positive move for your health and getting out the door! Don't worry that other people are faster than you or that you're slow. Be nice to yourself and give yourself a pat on the back for being AWESOME get getting out there! Speed will come later - don't compare yourself to other runners. 

4. Pick a Goal
I would suggest picking a goal race to run - a 5k race is a good place to start. Pick something about 8-12 weeks away and REGISTER for it now! Non-refundable? Good! Commit to running this race. Having a goal looming will push you to go running even when you don't feel like it because you know that race day is approaching. 

5. No Excuses!
"I don't have time" = the grown up version of "the dog ate my homework" and I don't buy it. I work a job with more than full-time hours, I coach cross-country 2 days a week, I spend at least one day a week working as a member of the organizing committee of Boston-certified local race, I blog most days and I still find time to train for marathons, bike, swim. Sorry! If I can do all of that, you can make time to run 3 times a week. 

Beside, most of us spend our days hunched over a desk. Running is one of the BEST things you can do for your health. You need to prioritize and your health should be high on that list! Make it happen!!

I will work on a new Learn to Run 5k plan, which I will post under the 'Training' tab. 

In the meantime, keep at it. No one said running was easy! I found it tough when I started too and I definitely had to work at it to get better. But eventually I promise it gets easier and one day you will wake up and realize you can't wait to go running, or you'll be out on a run and you'll realize 'wow, I really love this'!! 

Until then, practice :)

What is your best advice to a struggling new runner?
What's the best advice anyone gave you when you got started?
What made you start running (or want to start?)

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