Running is by far one of the best cardio exercises you could do to get your heart rate up and to burn calories. Despite this, however, many people do not like running (or cardio in general!) and instead opt for a stationary bike, walking, or no cardio at all. Some reasons for this are that people think running is either boring, or too difficult, or they feel like they can never find the time to incorporate it into their lives and their routines. There are a lot of misconceptions about running, and people normally quit early into their running careers because they lack certain things to make them successful. By simply implementing these things many people will see a drastic improvement in their running and will be able to sustain it for a long time. This article will explore the 4 things that everyone needs when getting started with running in order to run effectively and not quit early.
Having the proper running gear when starting to run is essential if you want to stay consistent. Proper gear helps to keep you comfortable, boosts performance, and helps to prevent injury. There is also something to the idea of look good feel good. By having the appropriate gear, you can feel more motivated to run since you look the part.
Proper running shoes
Having appropriate running shoes is the most important piece of running gear you can own (for obvious reasons!) and should be the first thing you should buy/upgrade in terms of your running attire. Running in shoes not designed for running can drastically reduce your performance and can lead to injuries such as sprained joints and lower back pain. Soreness is a natural side effect of running but sustaining unnecessary injuries due to inappropriate gear is a sure-fire way to quit running and to lose motivation.
Proper running attire
There is nothing particularly wrong with running in your cotton t-shirts, regular socks, and basketball shorts but, if you want to get serious about running and remain consistent, then it is a good idea to invest in proper running attire. Clothes designed specially for runners help to improve comfort and performance by keeping you cool, preventing chaffing, and being form fitting to your body to reduce resistance. There are many companies that now provide affordable ‘dry-fit’ gear and it is worth investing in a couple pairs of socks, t-shirts, and trousers. You will see an improvement in your running experience in both the short and long term.
This can come in the form of an app on your smart phone, a dedicated fitness tracker such as a Fitbit, or the fitness tracking capabilities on your smart watch. Whatever form it takes, a GPS/fitness tracker is an excellent investment to help keep you motivated while on your running journey. By being able to track how many miles/km you run, the number of calories you burn, the different times you make on different routes, and a whole host of other useful data, you will be able to accurately track the progress you are making and will be able to set goals for yourself based on that data.
“I want to run this route quicker this time”, “I want to burn more calories this week than I did last week”, “I did 2km last time, I think I can do 2.5km this time”. These are the types of thing you will begin saying as you see the progress you are making and begin to challenge yourself to be better than your previous self.
Many people consider running boring and cite this as a reason they can’t maintain it. One way to curb this boredom is to listen to music while you run. Having your favourite songs playing while you run is one of the best ways to help you push through a tough workout. It can, therefore, be a good idea to invest in a pair of quality headphones so that they last you a long time. It may also be a good idea to invest in a phone strap so that you don’t have to run with your phone in you hand and risk dropping it due to sweaty palms or tired arms.
One of the main reasons that people quit running, or never start for that matter, is because they don’t have a plan of action. Without a plan, running can seem like an extremely daunting task. Running is difficult and when you start off you are at the bottom of the ladder and every step feels like a trial of fire. Heavy legs, tight chest, and aching muscles; running burns in all the right (or wrong) places and getting up to run with sore legs can seem like the worst thing in the world. Without a plan or a goal, it can be easy to get discouraged and give up. By planning and having an end goal there is now something to work towards and keep you accountable when running. It is important to pace yourself, however, and be realistic about what you can accomplish. Piling too much on too soon will result in you burning out and quitting. Keep your plans simple and ensure that it is something achievable (you still need to push yourself though!)
Notebook (or other note taking method)
While having a GPS/fitness tracker is an excellent way to get data on yourself and track your running progress in terms of statistics and benchmarks, it is not especially effective at making goals or plans. In addition to collecting data, it is also a good idea to have somewhere to write down your goals and track your progress, both in terms of running and diet. One of the best ways to do this is to invest in a notebook or, if you aren’t the notebook type of person, utilise a note taking app on your phone. Wherever you decide to do it, this is an excellent motivational tool and a way to keep you accountable to yourself. Note taking is also an extremely effective way to plan your sessions and your week. By actually writing out your schedule and having a visual reminder of the things you want to accomplish for the day, week, or month, it is easier to stay motivated and actually get the work done.
Getting enough rest
A big mistake people make when they are just starting out with running is thinking that they have to run everyday to be successful or to see results. This is a big mistake and is a one-way street to burn out and quitting. Your running journey is a marathon not a sprint (excuse the pun!) and the key to success is steady, consistent progress. Doing what you can, when you can, taking small steps towards your goals rather than trying to do everything at once. What this means is getting an adequate amount of rest and scheduling rest days into your routine to ensure that you are not missing out on rest. Resting allows your body to recover and perform at the best of its ability.
When I say rest, I don’t mean lying on the couch, stuffing your face with chips! Instead, I recommend doing some form of active rest. Active rest involves doing an activity that is less intense than your regular workouts. For example, taking a walk on your rest day is much better for you than doing nothing entirely. Active rest is beneficial to you because you are getting blood flowing to your muscles, stretching out your sore limbs, and are helping your body to remain flexible and active on the days you are not exercising. Other active rest exercises in addition to walking include yoga and swimming.
Maintaining a proper diet and overall healthy lifestyle will greatly enhance your running performance and will allow you to do more running and improve at a quicker rate. This doesn’t mean that you have to count every calorie that you consume or join some fad diet, but you should be aware of the types of food you are consuming and the quantity you consume each day and at each meal. Staying hydrated is also extremely important and you should ensure that you are drinking the recommended amount of water each day. It’s a good idea to invest in a quality water bottle. This will not only help you to stay hydrated but has the added benefit of helping the environment since you will be reusing the same bottle rather than buying disposable plastic bottles.