If you are planning to climb a mountain, you’ll need motivation to start.
But it’s the discipline of taking one step after the other, and the planning of the correct destination and route that will actually take you there.
1. Take it easy
While self-explanatory and maybe obvious, it is one of the mistakes we see most beginner runners do.
Don’t run too fast, don’t run too far.
For speed, you should be able to sustain a conversation while you run. If you can’t or you really struggle to catch breath – you are running too fast.
For distance, stick to what’s in your running plan.
Getting destroyed after every exit or – even worse – getting injured, are sure ways to stop your love affair with running right from the start.
Even though you feel you might be doing more, running takes a toll on all of your body so maybe you can be fit in terms of cardio, but your joints can be taking a beating – and vice-versa.
You’ll have time in your running career to log crazy miles or fast efforts. Give it time and your body will thank you.
2. Have a goal (and track towards it)
If you know why you are running, it will make it easier to stick to that decision.
Do you want to lose weight? Decide how much. Decide by when. Keep a record of your weight loss.
Do you want to run a 5k? A Marathon? When?
All these goals are measurable and you can track your progress to see if and how much you are getting close to it.
Even if you just start to run “to feel better” or “to improve your fitness” – make it a point to measure it. Is it your resting heart rate you want to improve?
If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll never get there.
3. Have a plan
Don’t improvise. Don’t copy what your friends are doing. Find a reputable running publication (like Running Shoes Guru!) and get a plan from there.
Aside from being the best way to improve quickly while reducing the risk for injury, following an established plan will make it easier for you to know if you are progressing according to schedule or slacking off.
Resist the temptation of doing more than the plan suggests or less.
4. Fit it into your life
Most beginner training plans consist of 3 runs per week.
Don’t leave this to chance. Don’t say “when I have time this week I’ll go out for a run”.
Look at your schedule and see where you can fit these 3 runs a week. Start with the days.
Monday / Wednesday / Friday and the weekend to rest?
Tuesday / Thursday / Sunday ?
As long as you leave at least one day between runs, it doesn’t matter which days you choose. As long as they work for you.
Once you decided on the days, think about the time of the day.
Do you want to run at 6 in the morning to start the day energized and with a checkmark on your to-do list? It can be empowering
Do you want to run at lunch break? In the evening before or after dinner?
Whatever works for you. If you are not a morning person, don’t force yourself into early morning runs. Easy way to get burned out.
If you are tired after a long day at work – don’t plan your runs for 8pm or I can guarantee you will push them aside more times than you actually do run.
5. It’s all about the habit
In the end, it all boils down to two words: ROUTINE and HABIT.
Everyone talks about motivation, but in my opinion and 12+ years of running motivation is a fickle beast.
You can’t be motivated 24/7/365. Nobody can.
What you need is to make it a routing and a habit.
You don’t brush your teeth every morning and every evening thinking of that beautiful white smile. Maybe some days you do.
But the reality is that you do it because it’s a habit, part of your routine.
You can’t imagine leaving the house in the morning without brushing your teeth. If you make a plan, fit into your life and stick to it – even in the days when you can’t be bothered – running will become part of your schedule and will just be “something you do”, like brushing your teeth or having a shower.
Once running is a habit – there will be no stopping you!
BONUS – TREAT YOURSELF TO THE PROPER GEAR
- Running Shoes: You can check our selection of the best running shoes for beginners or take our test: answer 5 questions and we’ll recommend a pair of shoes for you.
- GPS Running Watch: As a beginner, something like the Garmin Forerunner 45 should be more than enough for what you need. Curious about more? We have a list of GPS Watches recommendation based on your budget and intended use.
- Weather-Appropriate running apparel: Too long to get into detail here – but remember that cotton is your enemy when you run! Don’t spend a fortune, but getting proper running apparel can make all the difference. Start with running socks.