Running Tips: Getting Started

As someone for whom running was, not too long ago, a punishment, I know how difficult it might seem to begin running. Barriers seem to pop up everywhere. No time. Being overweight or even just under-fit. No proper shoes/gear, no place to run, no idea how to start.

All valid concerns to have, but all things you can overcome with a bit of will and thought. Here’s a quick checklist of how to move past those issues:

No Time
This one is easy, and tough. For nearly all of us, we can carve out 20 minutes in a day. Call it 30 to give 5 on either side for getting in and getting out. Don’t have 30 minutes? Do you watch any TV shows? Read comics? Surf amazing fitness blogs written by self-described portly felines? We all have more time available than we tend to let on, because we’ve set aside blocks for “relaxation” and other similar things. Trust me, nothing washes away stress like a 20 minute run. STILL don’t have time? Fine. Set your clock 20 minutes earlier.  This one is as easy to overcome as saying “I will do this”. Which, unfortunately, can be the toughest barrier of all.

I’m Out of Shape
Look, we all live on a point somewhere between McDonald’s Super-Size and Olympic Sprinter. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but even those who are athletes for a living struggle with how far to take their fitness. Coaches are there for a reason. Saying you’re “out of shape” is like saying you’re human. That said, yes, if you are very overweight, you should begin by walking. Work towards running, incorporate run/walk. Take it slow. No one is too out of shape to begin the journey, but the first step is the hardest. The next million aren’t easy either, but health is earned. Sick & dead are free.

No Shoes/Gear
The big brands would love to tell you that their shoes work magic. They control your motion, they fix your stride, they make your pancakes fluffy and delicious. They lie. No peer reviewed scientific study has ever found that shoes prevent injury. ZERO. That said, don’t start off barefoot. You’ll get hurt. Eventually yes, you can go there. But start with a pair of cheap, comfy sneaks. Discount ones are fine. If you can afford it, look for last year’s model. Good socks are more important, as are shorts. If I were to spend money it would be on some good C9 compression shorts to prevent chaffing. They also make good running socks, and are inexpensive (and available at your local Target). Otherwise, you could basically run naked…

No place to run
If you live in downtown Detroit, I could see how this might be a problem. Urban areas can sometimes present difficulties in terms of safety. That said, if it comes down to it, a treadmill at a gym works (or at your friend’s house). I personally hate them, but if it was between a ‘mill and nothing, of course I’ll run the ‘mill. You can also utilize ellipticals for their smoother, less jarring motion. A great way to find places to run is to look up a local running store and go talk to the employees. They’re always staffed by true believers, and they’ll probably fall over themselves to help you find places to run.

How to start?
Easy. Do it. Take the first step. Research a bit, then set the date. Read books (check my book reviews!) Don’t let things get in the way. Lock fitness in as a top priority, and then keep it there. Understand that it isn’t selfish to want to live a long happy life alongside your family and friends.

Most of all, don’t let the haters get you down. Sometimes people will say things, do things, that try to get in the way. They’ll do it because they mistakenly believe running is bad for you. They’ll do it because perhaps you’re spending less time with them overall. Maybe they’ll say those things because, secretly, they’re jealous that you’ve beaten back the walls of doubt and stepped forward, while they’re still mired in their own stagnation. Let their words wash off you, consider whether they wish you well or ill. Being a healthy, functionally fit human is moving towards becoming the best possible version of yourself. If these people didn’t buy a ticket for that ride, boot them the hell off your train.

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