I have had quite a few people ask me about starting to run. I’ve been replying to everyone individually but thought it might help if I made a blog post. I am hoping Nancy at Running Chick will correct me or add any information I’m missing on as a comment because she runs half marathons and has been doing this a lot longer than I have!
First, it is crucial that you get yourself a good pair of shoes. Don’t just go to Dunham’s (and for Pete’s sake, avoid Wal Mart!) and try stuff on. Go to a running store where they do gait analysis. Have someone look at how you walk and determine the motion of your ankles and the shape of your feet. I have a lot of foot issues (overpronation, very low arches, bunions, ankle pain) and this is the best pair of athletic shoes I’ve ever owned. They are fantastic. I’ve had a lot of other pains since I started running but that nagging ankle pain I always would get is no longer there. Be prepared to pay good money for them. Your feet will thank you. Your ankles, knees, hips and back will thank you too. Good shoes will seriously help you avoid that “I hate this” feeling that people get when they first start out. Good shoes will help avoid injury as well.
Second, GO SLOW. If all you do is walk the first week, then walk. When you are feeling your endurance improving, add a little stretch of bouncing walk. When you get tired, walk some more. Walk a lot. Give yourself a day of rest the next day. When you head back out again, try to do a little bit more. A little bit! It doesn’t have to be a ton. If all you can do is 40 feet of a bouncy walk, then do 40 feet of a bouncy walk. It counts. IT WILL ALL HELP YOU BUILD ENDURANCE. This is how I started and within a few weeks I’d run my first quarter mile. I know everyone will vary depending on your current level of fitness, but especially for those of you who know me in person, you know that I did not go work out and am not athletic nor do I even enjoy watching sports on TV.
You will know by how you feel, how much more running to add to your walks as you go. Trust this process. I think that by going really slow I have managed to enjoy this and not wind up hating it. If I’d gone flying out of the driveway at a full tilt I’m sure I’d have quit long ago. Just take each day as it comes. Some days you will be tired and you will get out there and feel like you are lugging around concrete. That’s OK. It’s OK to take more walk breaks on those days, just go to your comfort. As long as you go! That’s the main thing.
And of course, if you have any medical issues, please take them up with your doctor. That includes severe pain that is more than “wow, I didn’t know I had that muscle” pain.
If your goal is to run events, like a 5K, 10K, or marathon, ask Nancy at Running Chick. That’s her department. 🙂