“I’m not a runner.”
“Running is NOT for me.”
“Running is way too hard.”
“I’m too overweight to run.”
The beauty of running is that all ages and fitness levels can get into it. And even I have made every excuse in the book as to why running was not for me. But one day I dared to try something different. I simply could not trust myself to get in a decent workout on my own at the gym without quitting prematurely or even breaking a sweat. And quite frankly, I was bored out of my mind. I had no one to hold me accountable and was pretty disappointed at my results (or lack thereof). I needed something totally different and outside of my comfort zone. I needed a(n) accountability partner(s). Personal training was not an option for me due to my beer budget, so I had to make the most of the resources I had readily available.
I recall witnessing a colleague over a few months course drop at least 3 dress sizes and wondering how I could get in on that “get it tight, get it right” action. Mind you, I was not looking to accomplish skinny, but healthy as being thin doesn’t necessarily equate to healthy. Remember that! She so graciously shared that she had a health scare and began running for her life – literally.
She introduced me to a nationwide running group for women called Black Girls Run that so happened to have a weekly meetups in my area. And the rest is history as the saying goes. It all began as walking, to power walking, to a slow jog, to a fast jog, then to finally full out logging some miles! I am proud to say that although I am still a work-in progress, I am now feeling confident enough to register for 5K’s and will pretty soon be preparing for my first half-marathon – yikes! So that’s my backstory.
Now, for those of you who wish to switch up your workout regimen and incorporate running into the mix, these tips are for you!
General Tips Before You Even Get Started
- Set Realistic Dietary & Fitness Goals. Ever hear the words, “you can’t out exercise a bad diet”? It’s true. The thing about lifestyle change is that you have to be in it for the long haul; quick and easy usually don’t work out for the long-term. In order to obtain great, lasting results, you will first need to honestly evaluate your diet since it plays such a huge role in overall health. Commit to the changes you wish to make and pretty soon, it will become routine without a second thought. Example: I will cut out junk food during the week and indulge on my weekend “cheat day”. I am not a believer in going cold turkey…at all.
- Obtain an accountability partner. And not just any accountability partner. You will need someone with similar goals and experiences to encourage you and pull you back in when all you want to do is jump ship and eat cupcakes. It helps tremendously to have people to work out with to give you that extra push when you otherwise may have quit prematurely on your own. As mentioned above, Black Girls Run is a running group for women, so I knew that there would be a dedicated group of women at every meetup working out with me. The same applies to group exercise classes at the gym. Consistency really is the key.
- Switch up your workout routine. I know we are encouraging running in this post, but it is also important to shake up that workout schedule to eliminate boredom.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday – Walk or run for 30 minutes.
Tuesday and Thursday – Group classes at the gym or ride exercise bike at home for 1-hour (if you happen to have equipment at home).
Saturday – Weight-training at the gym or a workout DVD at home.
Sunday – Rest and recover (you may also choose to add an additional rest day depending on your level).
On to the 5 running tips!
- Look into a well-known, safe running group in your area, such as Black Girls Run if you are interested in getting started with a group. You may also choose to work with your accountability partner or even venture out on your own! Be certain that you hold yourself accountable for your goals when working out on your own.
- Invest in some comfortable running shoes and appropriate weather-friendly gear. Some feel more comfortable running on the treadmill to start and later work towards outdoors – it’s completely up to you! Both are completely fine! And I don’t know about you, but it is also imperative that I have a workout playlist downloaded on phone or iPod. I usually run with one bud in my ear so that I can hear everything that’s going on around me when running outdoors. Indoors, not so much!
- Download Apps! My favorites are My Fitness Pal (tracks your daily food intake and any exercise you manually enter); Nike Training (tracks all your runs and running routes); and Couch to 5k (to prepare you for your first 5K).
- Start off slow and at your own pace. Remember, training to run is a marathon and not a sprint (baby steps). Start with 15 – 30 minutes and then progress each week to add more time. The Couch to 5K app is great for getting beginners started with a walk-run incremental routine.
- Sign up for “fun runs”. Once you complete the Couch to 5K, sign up for something to test out your skills. Usually with fun runs, you can do a combination of walking and jogging, so no pressure! Some to watch out for are The Color Run and The Glo Run. Walking and running for a cause is excellent as well! Set up a team and hit the pavement for your favorite charity (i.e., March of Dimes).
Pretty soon, you will see that running is not all that bad *wink* and you will be setting out to collect some 10k and half-marathon medals.