Wednesday, November 28, 2012
My family moved from Canada to the Middle East when I was 13, and due to culture shock, initial unhappiness, and just plain laziness, I gained a lot of weight. As a kid I’d been super active, but once we moved, the opportunities for physical activity weren’t as plentiful as they’d been for me back home. At 16, I decided to do something about it. I vowed to lose the weight I’d gained by replacing the junk in my diet with nutritious foods. I started running on a nearby track and played golf about five times each week. My family also purchased an elliptical trainer and a rowing machine, and I made a one-hour non-negotiable cardio date with these machines every morning. That hour before anyone else in my house woke up was my me-time. And it didn’t take long before I noticed the scale tipping – this time in my favor.
10 Tips For Becoming a Morning Gym-Goer:
Yes, it is true. YOU can fall in Love with running too. Yes, you.
It occurred to me today that my blog, Running For Dummies, has yet to give any advice for new runners. I am always quick to point out my blog name is tongue-in-cheek. This blog is not intended to be an instruction manual for runners. I'm the dummy here, sharing my growth experiences along the way. I have such a passion for running and I wanted to share with you how I got there, so maybe you can fall in love too.
Here are my five tips to fall in love with running.
1. Step out of your comfort zone.
The one thing I always hear from my friends who don't run is, "I can't run, I hate running."
Lets first talk about why you might hate a certain exercise. I used to hate planks. When I was in boot camp we did a one minute plank at the end of each session. If one person in the group dropped before a minute, the whole group had to do it again! I would stress-out over those planks. I would spend the entire one hour boot camp class thinking about and dreading that one minute at the end. Why did I hate it? Because it was hard! Why was it hard? Because I wasn't good at them. Why wasn't I good at them? Because I hardly ever did them! So I started doing one plank a day, every day, with no time requirements. I would just hold as long as I could. Sometimes back in boot camp I would struggle to hold it for that one minute. After doing a plank every day over a period of a six months, my plank record is 7:30 continuous minutes!. Do I hate planks now? No. Why not? Because I can rock a plank! Is it still hard? Yes, sometimes. But do I love it? Yes!
The moral of the story is that if you want to love to run, you have to do it. You have to fight through the uncomfortable feelings in the beginning. You have to accept the fact that it will be difficult at first. If you decide not to do something because you are not good at it (yet), you are missing out on the opportunity to grow. You don't have to be good at it, you just have to do it consistently. You will get better, it will get easier. I promise.
2. Go Slow.
The biggest mistake I made as new runner all those years ago is that I started off too fast. I would head out at a pace that is too fast to sustain and then get frustrated and ready to give up before I reached the end of the block. Start off slow. Go even slower than you think you can. Give your body time to adapt to this new exercise. You can worry about speed later, right now work on endurance.
3. Do Run/Walk Intervals.
There is no shame in walking. The ultimate goal may be to run continuously without walk breaks, but in order to get there, you have to build up to it. Start your run at a slow pace and maintain it as long as you can. When you feel that you need to walk to recover your breath, take a walk break but keep moving forward. As soon as your breath is recovered, pick back up into a jog again. This is where it is important to be honest with yourself. Only walk when you need a breather and start running again immediately when you catch your breath. Don't stop and walk if your breathing is fine, just because it may be a place on your route where you usually stop and walk. Don't walk a moment longer than you need to, because this is where the magic happens. You will find that over time that your running intervals will get longer and your walk breaks will get shorter. Before you know it, you won't need to take walk breaks at all.
4. Avoid Treadmills (at first).
I am not denying that treadmills have their place in training. My treadmill runs were instrumental in my speed work training. Treadmills can be beneficial in so many ways. They allow you to have strict control over your pace and time, they provide shelter from the weather and a safe environment to run. However, right now we are trying to fall in love with running. I don't think anyone ever fell in love with running on the
dreadmill treadmill. When someone tells me that they hate running, but they only tried to run on the treadmill at the gym, I say D'uh! Almost everyone hates the treadmill. I love to run with a passion, but even I dread the treadmill. It can be boring and monotonous and that clock staring you in the face can play major tricks on your mind. Running is a mental game as much (or more than) a physical one. I suggest starting your love affair by running in the fresh open air.
5. Buy Good Shoes.
When I first started running and some of my toenails fell off, someone finally enlightened me that I should be buying my running shoes at least a half size bigger than my street shoes. Go to a running store, have them fit you for a pair of good quality running shoes. Have your gait analyzed. Specialty running stores usually perform this service for free. If you are running in poor quality shoes that are too small and not the proper fit, you are needlessly making it harder on yourself. The great thing about running is that it is free. You don't need a gym membership or expensive equipment, you just need to invest in a good pair of shoes.