If you told me 3 years ago that I would run an average of 15 miles a week and have a half marathon under my belt, I would have thought you were crazy. Up until recently I had no interest in running. To me it was boring, hard, and relatively thankless. But as I went through college and started caring more about my health, I realized that I needed some kind of workout to do when it was too cold to go skateboarding. I particularly wanted something that wasn’t going to cost me a whole lot of money. I didn’t want to buy a gym membership and I wanted to exercise on my own terms. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, running was the perfect workout, so I decided to cash in my Coca-Cola rewards points and get a pair of Nike running shoes.
When I started running, it was cold and dark with snow on the ground. Winter isn’t exactly the most motivating time of year to start running, but my desire to get exercise was stronger. I didn’t start out running much by way of distance; as a matter of fact, I focused only on time. I began doing 10 minute runs, then bumped it up to 15 minutes, then 20 minutes, etc. I really only ran 1 or 2 times a week, so it wasn’t much at all. I think that one of the misconceptions people have about taking up running is that you have to start out running 3 or 4 miles a few times each week, which can be pretty discouraging. Anyway, after a few months of running on a fairly regular basis, I started gradually pushing myself to run further and faster. Before I knew it, I was running 5-6 miles on a regular basis.
When I started running, I wasn’t planning to run any races. However, my dad talked me into running a half marathon in Anchorage, AK. I agreed to it, spent a few months training and ran it in a little more than 2 hours. It wasn’t a very fast time, but I had done something I never thought I would do.
I think that running is all about pushing yourself to be a little bit better and go a little bit further each time you jog. So if you’re thinking about getting into running for the very first time, I have a few pieces of advice that might help you to get more out of it and stick with it for the long haul. First, invest some money into it. I think it’s good to have a little skin in the game when you take up running, but you don’t need to worry about buying $400 worth of shoes and clothes. Buy a decent pair of shoes and you’ll be good to go. Second, run with some music to keep yourself upbeat during your jog. One of the most challenging aspects of running is to keep your motivation when you’re in the middle of your run. It can be so easy to cut your run short, but you need to keep pushing. Third, start out small. As I eluded to earlier, you don’t need to start out running a huge distance. Keep it slow and steady and you’ll be fine. Finally, run outside. Treadmills are demotivating because they don’t allow you to internalize how far you’ve actually run. Let’s face it, numbers on a LCD screen really don’t mean much until the run is over. Run outside so that you can actually see the distance you are covering with your own eyes.
Running really is a great way to stay in shape, especially when you can’t do other sports because of the weather. Just be careful not to break an ankle and have fun being healthy!