I consider myself to be the foremost expert on non-runner’s running. I am the least likely person in the entire world to pursue running as a form of exercise. I’ve never been very athletic, and running in particular has always been a huge challenge for me (partially because of my asthma). But to my surprise, once I decided to try it out, (because my hatred for running is eclipsed by my love of efficiency, and really, what exercise is more efficient than running? None.) it turns out I’m not that bad at it. Here’s my (in no way professional*) advice for someone who is about to start running:
1) Take it slow. Seriously. I know it’s all exciting and new, but you’re going to hurt yourself if you overdo it. Don’t push yourself too much in the beginning.
2) Find your pace; it’s probably slower than you think. This was the difference between running being totally miserable and running being bearable for me. When I started getting into a running grove, I was running around an 8 minute mile. That’s obviously too fast for me. I was always winded, took frequent walking breaks, and really had to push myself. One day I just slowed it down a little to see what happened, and suddenly it wasn’t so bad! It was like, DUH! Once I slowed it down to around a 10 or 11 minute mile pace, I started really making progress.
3) You have to run consistently in order for it not to suck. I do other active things like walking, tennis, and hiking mountains, but none of those things are running, and if you start slacking, it starts sucking again. You have to get out there several times a week, okay?
4) Get your goals in order. Why are you running? You want to lose weight? That’s nice, but you’re probably going to gain weight (as fat turns to muscle) before you lose weight, and you will probably give up before you see any significant weight loss. When I started running, I explicitly didn’t have weight loss as a goal, rather I want to achieve overall fitness. And I did notice a lot of things-my lungs got stronger, my heart stopped pounding, I had more energy, I was happier. These things kept encouraging me. So find some things that will keep you going if you don’t see the scale move initially.
5) Walking breaks can be your friend. When it’s cold outside, my lungs really feel it thanks to my dumb asthma, and even now I usually have to stop for some walking breaks. Every run doesn’t have to be perfect, and it’s perfectly acceptable to take walking breaks when necessary, especially at the beginning. Just make sure you aren’t “phoning it in” (I’ve really been exposing myself to too much Jillian Michaels) and actually need to stop.
6) Don’t listen to Salt-N-Pepa. It’ll make you all cocky and you’ll run too fast and far. Trust me!!
*These are merely suggestions from a non-expert. Consult a doctor before starting a new exercise routine, especially one as vigorous as running.