Couch to 5k? Ten Steps to Start a Running Routine
National Running Day is celebrated on the first Wednesday in June. It’s a day when long-time runners share their love of the sport… and a perfect reason to pick up a healthy new hobby! Running is a simple, fun activity that offers plenty of benefits: you can get healthier, manage your weight, meet new friends, build your confidence, enjoy the outdoors and—most importantly—have fun!
Become a runner with these 10 steps
If you’re interested in getting started, but feeling a little apprehensive, have no fear! You can take tiny steps to build your endurance: and after all, every race is won one step at a time. When you’re ready, you can experience the camaraderie and thrill of competition that comes with running a race!
Follow these steps to get 5k-ready:
1. Know why you want to begin. When you start any new habit, it’s important to know your motivation. Do you want to get in shape, challenge yourself, lose weight, or just have something to do in your free time? Knowing your “why” will help you stay motivated.
2. Get the right gear. Your shoes and clothing make a difference in your comfort and endurance when running. Your best choice is to visit a running specialty store and try on different shoe options. Your goal is a shoe you barely notice on your foot. Getting a half size larger is a good choice, because your feet will expand slightly with exercise. Shoe shopping towards the end of the day is also a good idea, when your feet are a bit larger due to gravity. Be sure your workout clothes and socks are of a breathable, moisture-wicking fabric. Avoid cotton, as it can get damp from sweat and chafe your skin.
3. Find a running route. Local parks, bike paths or Rails to Trails are great choices because the scenery will keep you interested. Plus they’re well-maintained, free from traffic and frequented by other runners, which adds to safety.
4. Start small to build your confidence. When you’re just getting started, alternate between walking and running. For example, you might walk for 30 seconds then run for 30 seconds. As you progress, you can increase your duration of running while decreasing your duration of walking until you’re only running. Focus on the time you run rather than the distance, as this can be more motivating.
5. Stop before you’re tired. If you leave yourself feeling like you could have run further, you’ll feel empowered, rather than exhausted. This mental trick will help you form a positive impression of running as you build up a routine, and help encourage you to get out and run the next time.
6. Keep a “conversational” pace. Don’t attempt to run too fast, too soon. You’ll get tired out and become unmotivated to keep going. Instead, run at a pace where you can still speak in short sentences.
7. Get social—run with friends. Catching up with a pal can make running more fun, and before you know it—you’ve met your daily goal! Plus, scheduling time to run with someone else will help you stay accountable to your new running commitment. If you don’t know anyone to run with, check out a local running shop, club or fitness studio for running groups. (And don’t worry, people of all skill levels participate!)
8. Use an app to track your progress. Imagine how it would feel to discover you’ve run 50 miles! Using apps like Strava or RunKeeper, you can see how much effort you’ve put in while ramping up to your first 5k.
9. Sign up for a race. Even before you think you’re ready—registering for a race will keep you on track with your running goals. And if you’re not quite ready come race day, you can always walk a portion of the route, so there’s really no pressure not to sign up!
10. Remember to rest. Rest is important. It can help to take a day off to help your body recover before your next run. Take that day to hydrate and eat well, with fresh produce, lean protein and whole-wheat foods.
Celebrate your success!
Be proud of your daily accomplishments on your way to your first race. You’re taking steps to be an even better, healthier version of you—and that’s something to celebrate!
*This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice.