1. Why does running feel difficult at first?
Running is an activity many of us take for granted. It’s a key method of transport in many team sports, whilst often advertised as a straightforward form of exercise. The reality for many newcomers is far from the serene marketing picture of a runner. The most important concept to remember at this point is cliche, but cliched for good reason – every runner you’ve asked for advice or looked up to started off in a similar position.
As a full-body exercise, running can be daunting. Much of the initial difficulty factor ties in with individual perception of exertion. Whilst we all have mates who run for hours on the weekend, starting off in that manner is the quickest way to injury or discouragement. Running for as long as you can as fast as you can is a trope born from archaic physical education classes. In today’s running boom, the best approach to a new form of recreation is consistency. Small manageable segments of running, whether broken down into run-walk intervals, or street light to street light. All of these techniques will limit the tell-tale “too much too soon” muscular soreness signs, and plummeting motivation whilst unable to walk to the end of the hallway.
Fix: Find a coach, or a reliable running mate who will help in scripting out a gradual start to running. Don’t compare yourself to others, every runner’s pathway differs. Consult with physiotherapists early on in the “niggle” feedback loop, and invest in a foam roller for self-massage.
2. Cost of involvement
The first step in developing any new hobby – equipment. As touched on in our previous piece, footwear is a new market for many. Visiting a running store to be fitted with comfortable footwear is essential. Whilst the initial cost might seem steep, footwear protects you from the pavement day to day. A humorous rationalisation of the cost tends to involve considering all the potential physio bills a good pair of shoes can ward off. Investing in injury prevention often pays off in the grand scheme of things, whether that involves footwear or physiotherapy – your body will thank you.
3. How do I find time to run?
Weather is the most common enemy to new runners. Whether it be rain and hail, or sweltering summer weather – plan your runs. Where work and life commitments will differ for everyone, start with a positive in selecting the least oppressive time of day to run at. Where employment can make fitting a run in difficult, consider if you have any co-workers who run, and might keep you accountable and entertained.
4. How soon do I see results?
A question many a coach has heard. Progress will be relative for each individual, which in turn means running goals will be relative. Runners are fortunate in that the human body has an evolutionary capacity of sorts – to run. We are purpose-built to run and regulate body temperature, as such, aerobic fitness development is an enjoyable early days improvement curve. The time frame will differ for everyone, but the consistency with which you approach your running will in turn determine your progress. If you’re not sure of your progression, take note of regular runs and the conversational pace you run at. As this quickens, you will see substantial motivation in week to week, or month to month change.
Whilst running is often marketed as graceful and enjoyable for everyone from day one, ‘fitness’ has a different meaning for every individual. If you can be purposeful in your goal-setting, quantifying your aims, you will be able to endure through any early difficulties and trust the proverbial process.
5. How do I stay motivated?
Motivation can arrive in many different formats.
Here’s a habit to avoid…
Comparison is the source of substantial evil in starting a new form of exercise. Comparing yourself to others is reductionist and oversimplifies this new pursuit you’ve found yourself attempting. Where many running mates will remark on the relative ease of it all, compare it to a different aerobic pursuit – swimming. Many a runner will quickly remark how terrible their high school swimming days were. What tends to separate those who do or don’t continue with a hobby, is the way in which they contextualise their goals. Instead of comparing yourself to someone else, compare yourself to your runs one, two, three of six months ago. More often than not, the progress you’ve made is overshadowed by the human compulsion to analyse others.
Setting yourself regular, quantifiable goals is a sure-fire way to maintain motivation. When mixed in with a variety of runs and running locations – your focus is more likely to remain on the enjoyment of the activity. Monotony of runs and running locations remains the quickest path to a lack of enjoyment and injury.