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So you want to start running... Now what?

It's no secret that I'm a runner. I've been running since August or September of last year. It's transformed my life and my health to the point that if I don't run for a long period of time, I feel like something is missing, and the minute I go running after a long break, it feels good.

But many aren't sure where to begin when it comes to running. Trust me - I had no clue where to start. "Do I just start jogging? What about shoes? Will I be able to handle it physically and mentally? What if I'm no good at running?" Those questions were constantly in the back of my mind when I decided to pick up running, and I'm sure new runners, or those who want to start running, are asking themselves the same questions.

Let's start with the basics. First, if you're a new runner, don't think you can't do it, otherwise you're setting yourself up for failure. Running is 75% mental and 25% physical. The more you motivate yourself, the better your runs will be.

So where do you start?

  • Pick a day, get outside, and start walking. You need to stretch your muscles by walking, because if you just start running the minute you step outside, shin splints will become common until you've conditioned your body to running. Shin splints are microtears in the shin muscle, and those hurt! So just walk for a few minutes and then jog for 30 seconds. If you can't do 30 seconds, try for at least 10 seconds. Keep that rhythm going for at least 1/4 of a mile. If you feel like you can go longer, go ahead!
  • Don't over do it the first few weeks. Your body isn't used to running, and running constantly when you first start can cause pulled muscles and exhaustion. I learned that lesson the hard way. Once or twice a week is good enough.
  • Find a form that works for your body. You'll notice that tons of runners don't have the same form, and as you continue to run, you'll find one that works for you. Experiment as you go, but find a form that is comfortable and safe.
  • Make sure shoes are athletic shoes. Canvas and non-athletic shoes are supportive and can actually do more damage. (Not to mention that they are really uncomfortable for running/jogging!). You don't have to buy expensive running shoes right now as long as the shoes you have are comfortable and supportive. Always wear clean dry socks. Making sure your feet are healthy is extremely important.
  • Make sure you stay hydrated and you eat. Running not only makes you sweat a lot, you also burn quite a bit of fuel. So eat an hour before you run and drink plenty of fluids before and after. Be sure to check out our 4 Tips to Snacking & Staying Fit.
  • Stay motivated. There are going to be days you don't feel like running. But find a goal, whether it's to lose weight, run your first 5K, or just to get healthy, and keep it with you. Write it down. Tell yourself daily why you wanted to start running. You'll start finding motivation anywhere! Running buddies are also a great way to get motivated!

 But the most important thing, and I cannot stress this enough, is that before you start any new workout regimen, check with your doctor and make sure you're healthy enough to handle it. You don't want to stress your body out too much.

Post-run smile!
But if you do start running, after a good run, you'll find yourself feeling much better - physically and mentally!

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