So you think you want to run? The four essentials to get you started

I really want to start running, so how do I start? What distant should I start with? Good question. The internet is a buffet of interesting articles about the how and the what-to-buys. Let me give it to you straight. All you need are clothes, shoes, and a surface to run on. That is it! Stop reading and run!

Okay, jokes aside. Running is more than meets the eye. When friends or family ask for running advice, I am at lost for words. How do I tell somebody the finer points of running without sounding like a rambling salesman? I am still thinking of a good segue. For now I am going to discuss the essentials of running, especially the essentials that keep me running every week, month, and year.

  1. Shoes – Some prefer the barefoot approach, but there is a reason shoes were invented. Unless you were born in the wild with a no shoes rule, you need running shoes. For a runner, running shoes hold the same value that gloves hold to a boxer, or golf clubs to a golfer. Surprisingly, just any shoe will not do. You need to find running shoes that fit your feet. Imagine that you are Cinderella, and instead of a slipper it is a running shoe. . . . Okay moving on. My advice is to visit a local running store and ask them to observe your feet and running style. In Texas, a highly suggested running store is the amazing Luke’s Locker! If you do not live in Texas, google running stores near you. An online option is http://www.runnersworld.com/running-shoes-gear. I use this website as a guideline to selecting new running shoes.

Last thing in this section. DO NOT FEEL PRESSURED TO BUY EXPENSIVE RUNNING SHOES. Listen to the experts and then shop around for shoes you can afford. I always go for the more affordable shoes, because honestly I think the top dollars shoes lack fashion design. If I am going to buy an expensive shoe, it needs to at least look good on my feet!

  1. DistanceSet a goal. If you are running just to stay fit, then good for you! I admire you because I cannot run purely for fitness. I must have a goal whether it be to finish a 1 mile race, 5k (3.1 miles), 10k (6 miles), half marathon (13.1 miles) or marathon (26.2 miles). Every distance you complete is an accomplishment and every time you beat your previous time in a distance is excellent! Many may believe I just rolled out of bed and start running half marathons and marathons. Not really. I first decided I really liked running 5ks and one day there was a free 10k I joined. After the 10k, I was like “Man, that was really hard and long. A half marathon is so impossible.” Then another hot summer day my sister and I accidently ran/walked a 5 mile course twice (long story) and I thought “Okay I can barely walk up the stairs, but I could probably do a half marathon.” Then another day I joined this group of RAs and the rest is a long history which I explained in another blog called “A Reason to Run.” The point is we all have running stories, motivators and goals. Don’t be intimidated because someone is training at a higher level than you. Instead, let that be your motivation. Start with smaller distances. Taste victory and move on to that next distance or improved time.
  2. Location/Scenery – Location is everything. Initially, I was going to start this section  by saying that you should avoid treadmill running unless there is an extreme weather condition, but there are advocates of treadmill running. Personally, I believe that treadmill running is boring and sweaty. Also, I fear that I am always on the brink of a nightmare in which my treadmill breaks and I fly off knocking out the exercisers behind me. Yet, you may like it. I just realized that this is another “fits you” choice. Do you like being in a controlled atmosphere with a machine to pace you or do you prefer your neighborhood, park, city streets, country roads? I run at a neighborhood park, primarily for safety. I know that if something ever happens, a nice old man walking his dog, Frisbee surfin’ dudes, and soccer moms and their children are around. The other perk of my running route is that it can be extended into other interlinking neighborhoods and loops back to my beginning point.
  3. Watch – or a timer or a phone. In the beginning, I used a $10 watch from Wal-Mart, but I discovered I had a knack for losing or breaking these little gadgets. Next I discovered a beautiful free app called MapMyRun. It tracks miles, calories, time, and your route with sufficient accuracy (The calorie part may be extremely off, but who needs calorie counters?) However, after completing my first marathon, I decided it was time to graduate to a sports watch with the whistles and bells. I purchased a Fitbit Surge. Pricey. But I enjoy knowing my time, pace, and miles with one glance. Plus, it counts my steps, and calories, and heartrate, and need I say more? Oh, yes, there is Nike watches, Garmin, and Mio Fuse. I am a Fitbit lover, so I can’t say much about those other brands.
  4. Entertainment/Motivation – Scenery can make the longest runs feel like mere larks, but if you live where the scenery is about the same every mile or you are just tired of the same ole—you need another motivator for your runs. For starters, you may think about life subjects; record thoughts about life subjects; and then publish a book! If I am flying solo, I love to listen to music with a beat and an anthem that says “I am that awesome runner right now!” Yet, a better motivator than music is the company of other runners. Other runners are great for encouragement, advice, talks to distract or pass time, and ultimately be your running buddy and friend.

Well, that is all I am going to say about running today. Of course, there is an array of resources and tools at the runner’ disposal. If you are serious, do not be scared to ask for help or you could just read the online Runner’s World. As for me, I am off to enjoy the rest of my summer. I just started training for hopefully my second marathon and then I am trying this thing called Crossfit. . . . I better go.

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