For those of you who like to run, you know that nothing compares to the feeling you get when you’re outside running with the sun in your face and the wind at your back. But for many, running can seem like a chore, especially at first, and it can be difficult to get over that hump.
So, if you’ve thought about running, tried it, and decided you hated it, then this article is for you!
At First – It Sucks!
When you first start running, especially if you’re carrying some extra weight, it can really suck. You feel like you’re constantly struggling to breathe, your muscles ache, and you may even end up with a headache afterwards.
Let me tell you – this will pass! Any time we begin a journey to weight loss, fitness, or health, there’s always a period of feeling uncomfortable while our bodies adjust. Stick with it, even for just a few weeks, and you’re likely to see improvements in how you feel.
If you don’t, here are some reasons you may be feeling sluggish or achy during/after a run:
- You’re dehydrated: make sure you drink lots of water before, during, and after a run; your body needs to be hydrated!
- You haven’t eaten enough: many people enjoy running while fasted (meaning they haven’t eaten in a number of hours), however this doesn’t work for others. If you’re feeling really tired following a run, check your calories and make sure you’ve got enough fuel to get you through your workout and the rest of your day
- You’re doing too much all at once: it’s okay to start small. We always want to push ourselves, but make sure it’s within reason. If you’re unsure, speak to your doctor about a good starting point, or hire a personal trainer
When I first started trying to get healthy, the first couple of weeks felt like torture. But I didn’t go from no exercise at all to running 25km a week. I started playing volleyball again, going to the gym a little more, then I joined soccer, and eventually got a home gym and started running most days – and that took me a year to progress to! This journey in itself is a marathon, and you need to pace yourself. Stick with it and I promise you won’t forget it.
The other thing that really motivated me was doing a 5k, without any training. Now, you don’t want to do this in a way that you’re going to injure yourself. But what I mean is, I had the intention to start running so I signed up for a 5km race, thinking that would motivate me to train. It didn’t. But AFTER I did the 5km race, and realized that running 5k really isn’t that bad, I was motivated to improve my time. What I learned was that the first 2km are the worst, and then you sort of get into a rhythm. So, sign up for a 5km race by yourself or with a friend, and see where it takes you!
Wearing proper footwear is so important when we’re running – if we have unsupportive footwear, we can end up with a multitude of problems. If you’re not sure what to get, don’t worry; I didn’t either! If you go to a store, you’ll notice there are dozens of brands with hundreds of different shoes, all claiming to be for ‘running’. The sales associate may be able to help you, especially if you have a specific issue, but there will still be many choices. It may also depend on where and how you’re running – if you’re running indoors on a treadmill versus outside on a sidewalk versus on a trail, you may require different types of footwear and support.
It’s worth the money to invest in a good pair of running shoes, both for running outside, on the treadmill, and for weight lifting and other types of workouts. We need to have support for our feet and ankles in order to avoid injury. Personally, I have a pair of Sauconys, which I love. They’re super comfortable and lightweight.
For more information on which shoes to buy, check out these articles:
- Shoes Top Runners Rely on to Avoid Injury
- The 12 Best Long-Distance Running Shoes Reviewed
- The Best Running Shoes for Men, Women, Long Distance, and Trails
- Best Long Distance Running Shoes
In general, as long as you don’t have any pre-existing medical issues, and you go with a shoe that is made for running, you should be okay (please consult with your doctor first). Go to the store, try some on, and you’ll find a pair that you like.
A Running Plan
It can be really helpful to have a plan when you’re running. Many people get discouraged because they go out and notice they can’t run for very long, and are often winded. If that’s you, then starting on a specific running plan might be helpful. Typically these are found in apps that you can get on your phone, that offer a gradual progression to running a 5k, for example.
Here are a few of my favourite running apps:
For those of you who aren’t into technology, here are some running plans that are available online that you can follow:
- Runner’s World 8-Week Beginner’s Program
- NY Times’ Guide on How to Start Running
- The Running Clinic’s Comprehensive Running Programs
Having said that, I don’t actually use a running program, and never have. They’re just not for me, and I like to go at my own pace. I have a FitBit and when I started running, I was much further along in my running abilities (due to soccer) than most programs start you at. I simply run based on how my body feels, ensuring that I’m pushing myself along the way. It’s been successful for me, and I continue to reach personal records on a regular basis.
Patience is a virtue – one I admit I often don’t have. When I do something, I typically go all-in and I want to get results FAST. That meant that, for me, I wanted to constantly improve and reach personal records every time I ran. Now, this in itself isn’t a bad thing. A drive to run and improve is great – but you need to ensure you’re listening to your body.
I went from running once a week at soccer, to doing that plus 5km four times per week. Not surprisingly, I got injured. My physiotherapist suggested that I had simply done too much too fast, and my body couldn’t keep up. I developed tendonitis in my hip and had to cut back on my running quite a bit. Not only that, but it affected my game at soccer and took a long time to heal. Go slow, do this gradually, and don’t expect your body to do more than it can do. This takes time and it’s worth it in the end if you go slow and steady.
Don’t Pressure Yourself too Much
I’m someone who, even in the best shape of my life, hated running. Now I love it and it’s the thing that I turn to for stress relief, self-care and relaxation for myself. Having said that, running isn’t for everyone. Some people do not enjoy running, and that’s okay!! Lots of people talk about running as the best form of cardio, but there are so many alternatives. So, if you hate running, or just don’t want to run, here are some really great cardio alternatives:
- Cycling indoors
- HIIT workouts
I encourage everyone who is willing and able to get out and try running. Try it with a friend, on a trail, or on a treadmill, and see how it goes. Everyone is different and has different preferences, but the idea is that we’re moving our bodies and being healthy!