Fitness Fridays: Starting a Running Routine From Scratch

Most of the people who have joined Team Dress for Success for the Honda LA Marathon are starting from scratch. I completely give them props for doing this! Because 26.2 miles can be daunting (especially for the girl who is leading the team who has never actually ran that distance before…) I’ve decided to start a blog series to help address concerns and such for new runners, since I am one myself. Sometimes it’s easier to hear from people who are in the same boat as you are, who are not really experts, but can relate to you through experience. So here goes! (This will be cross-posted to http://teamdfs.org)

Starting a running routine from scratch is tough. Motivation can be killed pretty quickly with one bad run, a sore knee, or lack of support. When you first start running, I completely recommend the following:

  1. Running without a time limit will give you a sense of freedom. If you’ve been plagued by the idea of running slow (like me), you can divert your attention to your form or your breathing. By not concentrating on the watch and focusing on beating a particular speed, you can just focus on the task at hand: running. Action paralysis happens to the best of us and if you focus on what’s more important — like, running with great form — you’ll eventually build up a base that’ll help you build speed. Speed is not important when you first start, and gauge by your perceived exertion. Only you will know if you’ve pushed yourself to the proper limit. (Oh, and you might or might not “feel it” the next day depending on your current state of conditioning.)
  2. Running with real running shoes is also important. I had an old pair of sneakers that I started using that were retired gym shoes from three years prior. After my second or third run I started having sharp pain in my shins. It was quite discouraging since I was new at this whole running bit. I went online and bought my first pair of running shoes — Ryka Ultima Run 2s from Zappos — and never looked back. They’re the most comfortable running shoes (well, the only running shoes really) I’ve ever owned and that’s all I plan on buying for a long while.
  3. Running with a purpose is the most important thing. If you don’t have a reason to run, you’ll most likely fall out of routine and stride quickly. When I first started running it was because it was a personal public challenge that I announced via my blog, Twitter, and Facebook. (That made me accountable to ALL of the people who crazily want to keep up with me everyday.) The great thing about joining a charity team like Team Dress for Success is that you get to meet people from all walks of life who are passionate about helping others. By running with a purpose, it gives you intent each and every time you lace up your shoes and head out the door. It also gives you that extra bit of drive when the pushing gets tough.
What are some of your concerns about starting a running routine from scratch?
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