Maybe you want to be more healthy. Perhaps you want to lose weight. You might be searching for mental clarity. It’s possible you want a way to combat stress in your life. Or do you just want to see what all of the hype is about? Whatever the reason, congratulations! You have decided to become a runner. This very important decision is the first step to a series of steps on how to become a runner.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
So now what? The next step may seem obvious but it is important enough not to skip over. You need to get yourself some running shoes. I highly recommend visiting your local running store and seeking advice about which shoes to buy. While you can get some great deals online, you are seeking more than just good prices, you are seeking advice. The door to your local running shop will transport you into the heart of a running community where there are hundreds of people, just like you, interested in running.
As you are picking out your shoes with the assistance of the store clerk, ask about the local running community. Are there group runs you can join in the future? What are the most scenic running routes? Is it safe to run outdoors by yourself if it is dark? What local races are coming up and what is the best way to sign up? Are trail shoes needed for the local terrain or can road shoes suffice almost anywhere?
You get the picture. If the shop is any good, the store clerk should be a wealth of knowledge, so tap into it.
Once you have the shoes, you are ready to get started.
Now you may be rearing to go, but instead you are going to ease into this and be patient. The surefire way to injure yourself is to start out too aggressively on fast or long runs. I know, I know, patience is not my virtue either, but trust me on this one.
Your first week as a runner is going to be 3-4 runs of 5 minutes each. Wrap the run with a 5 minute walk to warm up and 20-30 minutes of walking afterwards to round out your workout. Stretch both before and after the run/walk.
Week 2, double the run length. Again, walk for 5 minutes, run for 10 minutes and then walk for 20 minutes. Keep up the stretching.
A good idea at this point is to introduce some cross-training into your routine. Keep running 3-4 days a week but on at least one other day, go for a walk, take a Zumba class, ride your bike or spend some time doing yoga. It is good to shake things up a bit and let your body know that it can’t get too comfortable only putting one foot in front of the other. Cross training is important to help reduce the risk of injury, increase weight loss, improve total fitness and adds variety to your exercise program.
Week 3, the run length jumps to 15 minutes. If the 5 minute leaps are feeling like too much, either scale it back to only a 2-3 minute increase or check out the Couch-to-5K running plan for other ideas. Listen to your body, but don’t give up!
Week 4, you are up to 20 minutes and you are doing great! At this point, along with the stretching and walking you are doing, add some ab exercises to your routine. The longer you run the more important working your abs will become to keep your core balanced and injury-free.
And just like that, you have been running for a month. Yay you. Seriously that is such an amazing accomplishment. But you are not done yet.
About this time, start searching for someone you can run with, your running BFF. You want someone reliable, about the same pace as you. Keep your eyes pealed for people in running clothes at pre-school pick up or check back in with your local running store and ask about running clubs. Do a few of your runs at the gym and look for others running on treadmills. There are many different ways to go about this but you will need to be BRAVE to get up the nerve to ask someone if they would be interested in running with you. If they seem interested, great! If not, it was a 30 second conversation you can forget the moment they turned you down. Another good way to find a running partner in today’s modern times is to ask on Facebook or Twitter.
Week 5, is 25 minutes. Make sure you are still stretching, working your abs and warming up and cooling down with a walk. Hopefully at this point you have found someone to run with occasionally. It is amazing how much easier it is to stay commited when you are meeting someone. They will also push you to go faster and further AND make the time pass quickly. I have been on easy 4-mile runs by myself that felt like a marathon and run a 50K with two fun running partners that passed quickly.
Your next step is to find a local race. You pick the distance but a 5K or 10K is a good distance to start with. Sign yourself up and keep the goal of completing that race in mind as you lace your running shoes up each day.
At Week 6 you are running 30 minutes. You rock! I firmly believe that with a 30 minute base, which at a 10:00 minute/mile pace is 3 miles or roughly a 5K, you having the foundation to take your running anywhere. You can continue running 30 minutes and start working on speed, or you can keep growing your base and soon be training for 10Ks, half-marathons or even a marathon.
The important things are to continue to build slowly, continue to warm up and cool down after ever run and continue to stretch.
So in summary, this is how you are going to become a runner in six weeks:
** Each week run 3-4 times a week with an additional cross-training session on an additional day
Week 1: Walk 5 minutes, Run 5 minutes, Walk 20-30 minutes, STRETCH
Week 2: Walk 5 minutes, Run 10 minutes, Walk 20-25 minutes, STRETCH
Week 3: Walk 5 minutes, Run 15 minutes, Walk 20 minutes, STRETCH
Week 4: Walk 5 minutes, Run 20 minutes, Walk 10-15 minutes, STRETCH
Week 5: Walk 5 minutes, Run 25 minutes, Walk 10 minutes, STRETCH
Week 6: Walk 5 minutes, Run 30 minutes, Walk 5-10 minutes, STRETCH
Weeks 6+: Walk 5 minutes, Run YOU DECIDE BASED ON YOUR GOAL TO MAINTAIN OR INCREASE MILEAGE, Walk 5 minutes, STRETCH
You’ve done it. You are a runner! Reach around and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. Welcome to an amazing, life altering journey.