How to Run, Part 1

Is it possible to enjoy something you once hated with a passion? As a kid I hated vegetables and though I’ll eat a few here and there as an adult I wouldn’t say that I enjoy them. But I have come to enjoy running, something I used to avoid like the plague. I thought I’d take a couple of posts to share how you can go from a couch potato to a running regular. If I can do it there is no doubt in my mind that you can too.

Get a Goal

The first step in your transformation is the desire to make a change; you need a goal of some sort. (Full disclosure: I’ve recently increased my mileage in light of an upcoming family reunion! How’s that for the purity of sport?)

Your goal may be to lose some weight but that doesn’t need to be the case. Maybe you want to see what it feels like to participate in a race of some sort. An upcoming fun run, 5k or 10k might be the thing that gets you off the couch and on the road. You might be surprised to see how good it feels to cross the finish line, even in something as low key as a local fun run. Completing a race and crossing the finish line is a truly amazing experience.

For some the goal might be the desire to run a target distance. With the family reunion around the corner I want to get back to running 5 to 6 miles on a consistent basis. I’ve done it before and I want to do it again.

Another goal might be the desire to establish a healthy lifestyle. It might motivate you to commit to six months or a year of running four times a week. Checking off week after week gets pretty compelling because no one wants to break a streak.

Or maybe the goal is simply to hang out with a friend. Running with a buddy four times a week will really give you some quality time and will provide you plenty of opportunities to talk. A running buddy is a great motivator.

It doesn’t matter what goal you aim for, just pick one. Pick a race, a distance, a weight, a habit or a buddy—it doesn’t matter, just pick one.

Get a Buddy

I believe a buddy is a critical factor in developing a regular habit of running. For me this started with Kellie and some of our friends from church. I wouldn’t be running today if it wasn’t for our friends the Duncans. And once we established the habit of running we got to run with all sorts of friends.

Some of those crazy people would make us get out of bed so that we could be running by 5:00 AM (Alma, I’m looking right at you)! Yes, a running buddy helps get you up in the morning. They may not come and shake you out of bed but the knowledge that they’re waiting for you to show up will help motivate you when running doesn’t sound like much fun. Having a running buddy will also make your long runs less of a solitary experience.

Once you find a friend who will run with you you’ll never want to let them go.

Get After It

Eventually you just need to go running. You can read all sorts of things and talk to all kinds of people but there comes a time when you need to go outside and go running. Get a goal, get a buddy and get after it; go running!

Be prepared that it may not feel all that great the first few times. This is to be expected. Your lungs and legs are being taxed in a way they weren’t before. Even if you’ve been doing other sorts of exercise you will probably be working your muscles in a new way. Don’t be discouraged if it feels like work; they call it a workout for a reason. You’re building muscles and things will get better.

When you start running don’t feel bad about walking along the way. If you start with a 2 mile route and you end up walking half the time don’t get discouraged. Stick with it, stay consistent and it won’t be long before you can run the whole thing. So, feel free to walk but diligently work towards running the entire route.

One Last Thing

No matter how long you’ve been running your longest distance will always be hard. If you only run 2 miles, those 2 miles will always be hard. If, however, you add in some 3 and 4 mile runs the 2 milers will start feeling easy. It’s nice to have a regular distance but you’ll need to throw in some long runs if you want to improve. Try adding one longer run to your week and I think you’ll notice the benefit.

Next Time

In the next post I’ll talk about finding the right shoes, the right gear, monitoring your progress and a few other things I’ve learned along the way. For now, find something that motivates you, a friend who will run with you and get after it.

And, as always, if you have a tip that got you off the couch or a question of some sort leave a comment and let me know.