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How to Become a Runner: A Simple Method for Beginners

Beginning Runner

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I used to be a runner back in high school and college and then I got busy with career, living life, and starting a family. In recent years I was dedicated to brisk walking most days of the week, and sometimes I would even jog a little. But I was never able to get back into running.

Until recently. I made one simple change and it has made the difference between being a walker and, now, being a runner. (Well, jogger, at least!:)

So what did I do differently? I went from exercising for time to exercising for distance. In a nutshell, what I did was just start. (Right after I had my annual physical. ) I jogged as far as I could go on the first day, and then each day after that I went just a little bit further. After about a month, I’m now jogging 3 miles a day, 5-6 days per week. I feel great and I can already see my body changing for the better. I’ve also made some other changes that have made my health skyrocket if you’re interested.

How YOU Can Become a Runner

Mentally

1. Decide that you want to try jogging. Don’t over think it. You can always go back to walking tomorrow if you don’t like it.

2. Focus on the reasons why you want to become a runner or jogger. Some good reasons: improve your cholesterol, improve your body shape, lose weight, feel better, gain more energy for daily life, etc. Whatever your motivations are, write them down and post them where you will see them every day. This will be very helpful on the days that you don’t feel like running.

3. Fail-Proof it. Create a time in your schedule when you’ll be sure to have the ability to do this. For me it means mornings. If I wait until later in the day, then my energy is lower not to mention all the other activities competing for my attention.

Physically

1. Get the OK from your doctor. Have an annual checkup where they check your heart. Don’t skip this part. You don’t want to have a heart attack when you’re trying to become healthy. Find out what is an OK level of exercise for you. And while you’re at it, get your cholesterol tested so that in 4-6 months you can go back and see the wonderful improvements you will have made!

2. Just do it. Don’t wait to feel energy or to feel like you’re in the mood. Just put on your sneakers, bring your mp3 player (or not), and go!

3. Start slow. Try very slow. In track we used to call it the “Buffalo Shuffle.” Run at whatever pace that allows you to go the farthest distance possible. On day one, maybe this will only be a quarter or half mile. That’s totally OK. You will be so much more likely to stick with it if you start small and build a little bit each day.

4. Distance. Go as far as you can comfortably go and then turn around. Don’t pay too much attention to your watch. If you need to walk a little and then start jogging again, do that, but if you can keep going slowly, that’s what you should strive for.

5. Increase distance each day. Each day, pick a new landmark that is past where you went the day before. Use that as your turnaround point. And then the next day, go yet a little further.

Restoration & Support

1. Stretch after exercise. Take 10 – 15 minutes after jogging to stretch. Stretch your calves, hamstrings, quads, hips, and upper body too. Check out this resource for some good yoga/stretching videos that I recommend which can instruct you on how to stretch.

2. Rest your body. Take at least one day off per week. Eat a super healthy diet that gives you the most energy while helping you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Get enough sleep each night so that your body can make the repairs and build the tissues that will make you stronger tomorrow. Find out more in Why Exercise is Good For You.

3. Buddy up for support. Find someone to run with or join a running group.

4. Advice for the tough days. There will be days where you really don’t want to run. Unless you’ve got an illness or an injury, do this: make a deal with yourself that you will run for at least 5 minutes. That’s about how long it takes for the endorphins to kick in. Once they do, it will be much easier to continue. And of course when you’re done with your run, you will feel so glad you did it!

5. Remember: You Can Do It! Repeat simple positive affirmations in your head even when they feel like they are not true. Over time they will become true. Some examples:

  • I can do this!
  • Everyday I get better at this!
  • Running becomes easier for me each day.
  • This is so healthy.
  • My body is becoming stronger with each step.

Resources

Please Share!

How has running changed your life? If you’re a beginner, what is your motivation? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

If you found this post valuable, perhaps you’ll be kind enough to vote for this with a Stumble or Delicious bookmark. Votes are always appreciated!

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132 Responses to How to Become a Runner: A Simple Method for Beginners

  1. Supplement Freak March 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    So I just ran the Shamrock Shuffle yesterday. This was my first run in over 5 months. I go to the gym every day and lift, but no cardio. I thought I could just bang it out…but wow…I need to start training a little like a runner!

  2. James Buccelli May 21, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I’m actually committing Sin #2 ‘Waiting too long to comment’! However, I felt compelled to express appreciation, since I think many of these you enumerate are unconscious mistakes that can easily be rectified.

  3. Nick July 14, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    Nice article, in in January I made the commitment to start running and followed many of these tips. When I started I was struggling to run 3 miles and weighed over 215 lbs – today I ran over 15 miles ((which I do about once a week) and am down around 193-194 lbs. Starting slow, but adding a little each week makes a huge impact over time.

    • AgentSully July 15, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

      Thanks for the testimonial Nick!

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    […] a minimum. Here is an excellent article on varying your jogging workouts. And here is an article on how to become a runner. 2. Do whole body workouts 2-3 times per week such as yoga (strenuous) or Pilates or a […]

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