A lot of folks nowadays are looking for different ways to become healthy and fit. Some engage in a healthy diet, work their bodies in a gym, or engage in various sports. In my case, I decided to try the running sport many years ago.
The running community has grown exponentially since the sport became commercially popular here in the Philippines (considering the fact that this country is a nation of basketball and boxing fans). At present, numerous races are being advertised almost everywhere. Runners flock registration sites. Thousands of people began competing in races and pursued active lifestyles.
As time passes by, we often meet people who still wonder whether they can engage in such sport or not. I have a friend who became interested in running after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. To remediate and improve his current health condition, he wanted to try running. He did have reservations at first (he told me that he wasn’t fast or he can’t run far like I do. Most beginners have this kind of dialogue.) but I was eager to help him become more active and feel better. He needs to be converted properly first.
Here are the tips I gave him as he began his “career” as a runner.
1.) You need to open your schedule a bit.
Being healthy and fit require investment. In a world of busy men and unending loads of paperwork, TIME is the most important investment you can ever give to yourself. If your work usually ends by 5:00 p.m., you may “run-walk” for 30 minutes to one hour as a part of your pre-training regimen. In case your work begins at 9:00 in the morning, you may wake a few hours early and do the same activity. Your body will soon adapt to the new routine until it becomes a part of your regular “schedule”. Being consistent is the key in becoming a successful athlete or a healthy individual. Stop finding time. Make time for it.
2.) Pick the RIGHT shoes.
Your feet are your greatest asset in this sport, so you better get the right shoes to support it. Choosing and purchasing the wrong pair can definitely turn things in the opposite direction. Running with the wrong shoes can cause discomfort, injuries, and a lot of bad memories. Visit the nearest running stores (RUNNR, TOBYs, Second Wind, etc) and seek assistance in picking the right running shoes for you. Learn more about your pronation and select the most appropriate pair based on your preferences and budget.
3.) Don’t jump categories.
Every runner must be patient with himself/herself. Nobody becomes an expert overnight. A lot of runners tend to jump categories because they overestimate their capacity and underestimate the distance they will run. Remember, you need sufficient preparation as you increase your mileage. You risk having injuries by trying to complete a Half-Marathon when you can’t even complete a 5 KM distance. Your body deserves more than a mere Finisher’s medal.
4.) Read and learn about how to improve in the sport.
If you want to be more than just the average runner and move on to the higher distance categories, you need to learn about the sport as much as you can. Running becomes more fun when you see yourself continuously improve and beating the challenges of training. Knowing the basic terminologies, common practices, the simple Do’s and Don’ts, or the modern training programs will definitely be useful for your growth as a runner. Like what a famous coach said, you can’t afford to be stupid at any given sport.
5.) You have to eat RIGHT.
The word “right” means that you have to try your best to lessen the intake of the needless food consumed by your body. Junk food is called “junk” for reason. Proper fueling helps our body to reach optimal performance during an actual race. You need to search better food alternatives that will give your body the proper amount of nutrition it needs before and after running.
6.) Select your route.
Safety should be your top priority when training outside. Find a route that is considered safe and far from traffic as much as possible. The place should be well-lighted and accessible for other people in case you prefer running at night. If you are familiar with the place, try to be creative in making your routes. Running the same route repeatedly can be boring and less motivating.
7.) Rest is important too.
You don’t have to run every day. Runners also need adequate rest to help their body recover after a tiring run. Our body functions better that way. Being deprived of sleep can jeopardize your goals or performance for the following day, whether it is about running or the regular activities you do.
8.) Try finding a coach.
There is a significant difference between self-trained runners and professionally trained ones when it comes to performance. Novice runners who underwent professional supervision perform better than those who didn’t. Although having a coach is not required, being trained and advised by a professional will help you efficiently reach your personal goals.
9.) Pick your races.
Plan your training ahead. Choose your runs. Coming to a race unprepared is an ill-advised practice. Don’t join a race if you think you won’t have the time to prepare for it. If you already started joining longer distances, your body needs adequate time to recover and train for the next race. Avoid “crashing and burning” yourself. Running beyond your normal capacity can be taxing for the body. Making a calendar of races will help you organize your training and race schedules better.
Your personal satisfaction when it comes to this sport matters most. Take your time as you discover something more about yourself. Running is not entirely about being fast. It’s about how far you’ve reached (figuratively) since you decided to put those laces on and run outside. You already are a RUNNER.