Friday, April 30, 2010

3 Steps for Getting Started Simply

Ok so you’re ready. You’re going to do it. You’re going to start running, but you have no idea where to begin and maybe you’re even feeling a little lost or overwhelmed. Here’s three steps to get you started running on the right foot (or left if you prefer. That’s not one of the tips ;-)

1. Get a pair of running shoes – They don’t have to be the newest, most expensive or hi tech model out there. But they should be a pair that is suited for your feet. Go to a running store. Not Dunham’s or Dick’s or whatever big sporting goods store you have near you. Go to an actual specialty running store. And PLEASE do not be intimidated to do this. Trust me, you are not going to be the first person to walk through their doors looking for your first pair of running shoes. Everybody was new once, including even the sales staff, which is usually comprised of runners.

Go to a running store because generally speaking they know a thing or two about feet, shoes and how they’re supposed to work together when running. They’ll measure your feet properly (be prepared for a recommendation of at least a half size or two up from your normal shoes. Your feet expand when you run. They’re not trying to insult you, only save the life of a toenail). They also might want to watch you walk, maybe run. Some stores even have hi tech machines to evaluate how you carry weight on each foot. All this to help you find a shoe that works for you because there are different types and the wrong type for your foot can definitely do more harm than good. At a general sporting goods store, they’re probably going to do a great job in finding your size in the shoe you tell them to go get, but that’s about it.

Whatever you do though, do not just randomly select a pair of shoes you already own (even if they are sort of sneakerish) and go run. They weren’t designed to properly support your foot while running and chances are you’ll wind up injured trying to make that pair work. As a matter of fact, don’t even run in a resurrected pair of old running shoes unless you bought them, set them aside and never touched them again. Running shoes are designed to last 3-500 miles on average. If you’ve been using them to walk around in, there’s a strong possibility you’ve worn them out already. Soles will wear out before treads, so don’t just flip them over and say “they look ok to me.” It’s what you can’t see that will cause your legs to rebel against you later.

Best bet is to just suck it up and spend the $50-$125 on a pair of new shoes and not take any chances. Once you know what sort of shoe you need, don’t hesitate to check around and see if you can find a good deal on it somewhere. There’s lots of sites online that offer free shipping and free returns on running shoes. And if money is a major concern opt for a discontinued model on clearance, you’ll save yourself a lot of cash.

2. Find a race – And I know what you’re thinking. You’ve got to be kidding me! I am in no condition to be racing people! Am I right? But you misunderstand why most people run races. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that the vast majority of runners out there are not entering races to win them. Do they want to see how fast they can finish? Sure. But trust me, you will not be the only one entering the race just to see if you can finish it.

A race is a tangible goal. It’s a date on the calendar to work towards. When you pick a race (for our purposes a 5K or 3.1 Miles), you can’t just slough off a run with a “eh…I’ll do it next week” because you don’t have that kind of time to spare if you ARE going to hit your goal (and you totally are!). You’ve got to get up and do it now.

Don’t worry about having to perhaps walk some of it. Pick a race three months out. Follow your training plan and chances are pretty good you’re going to run the whole thing. But even if you do have to walk, so what? You certainly won’t be the only one. And even if you are the last place finisher (which you probably won’t be) there will be somebody watching on the sidelines, who will be wishing they could do what you just did. Guaranteed. The purpose of a race is to get from point A to point B as quickly as you can. Period. And quite frankly, I am often times more excited to watch the last guy cross the finish line, than I am the first. Chances are she’s had to overcome a lot more to cross that same finish line. I mean really, who wants to quit a race when you’re about to come in first?

So find a race and register for it right now. It won’t cost a ton of money. Some races are as little as $15-$20 (but at the same time that $15 or $20 might spur you on should thoughts of quitting creep up into your head. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I’ve said to myself “well geez, I paid…I’ve got to do it.”). And besides almost all races give out a shirt and you know we’re all about the shirt right ;-)

3. Get a training plan – It doesn’t have to be mine. There’s lots of them out there. I’d suggest picking one you feel comfortable with. One that might look challenging at the end but doable to start off with and gradually working you up to the challenging in the middle.

Once you find one, print it off. Or hop on your computer yourself and transfer it to your own calendar, then print it off. But print it off and stick it on your refrigerator. I used to think this was only something my family and I did, but I recently read Rules for Runners by Mark Remy (hilarious book btw) and found it listed as one of the “rules.”

Put it on your refrigerator so you can see it and keep that goal of yours in front of you. And because when you go to grab that leftover can of mild cheddar cheese dip (mmmmmm…cheese… my weakness) or box of pepperoni pizza, you’ll think twice because you’ll remember you’ve got a run to do early the next day and that kind of food won’t sit well in the morning. And don’t underestimate that little sense of satisfaction you get from marking off, checking off or coloring in that little box on your calendar or running schedule when you complete a run. It seems like a silly little thing, but wait until you miss a run. That little uncheck, marked or colored box will haunt you. You’ll never want to leave one again.

**************************************************************************************So there you go. Three tips. All that’s left for you to do now is….GO RUN!

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