You’ve probably seen runners a time or two and wondered how the heck they do it. Maybe you’ve even asked yourself if it’s possible to become one yourself. It’s a good question, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. In fact, running burns more calories per hour than any other exercise. A Healthline article outlining the exercises that burn the most calories shows that, on average, calories burned during an hour of running are:
125 pounds – 652 calories
155 pounds – 808 calories
185 pounds – 965 calories
Now, if running for an entire hour seems daunting — maybe even impossible — it’s not. The key is to remember that running like that isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s something you build up to.
And there’s no time like the beginning of autumn to get started!
The transition from summer to fall weather means slightly cooler temperatures with those longer daylight hours. Less humidity and heat won’t cause your body extra stress. You’ll also be able to go longer without getting dehydrated. Not to mention the changing leaves and vivid colors makes for extra beautiful scenery to keep your mind busy and you motivated. And it gives you ample time to get in shape ahead of the holidays (because who wouldn’t want to wow family at Thanksgiving?).
Convinced yet? Or maybe at least on the, “Ok, I’ll give it a try,” level?
Below are 8 ways to ensure your new running initiative is a success (rather than a source of frustration).
1) Intervals are your friend.
You’re not going to be able to start running for 10 minutes, even 5 minutes, straight. That’s more than okay, and that’s exactly why there’s a thing called intervals. One popular interval training method is to start by walking 2 minutes and then slowly jogging 2 minutes. Do that 4-5 times the first week for 20 minutes at a time. The next week, walk for 2 minutes and jog for 3 minutes. The week after that, walk for a minute and jog for 4. Build on each week at your own pace. If you stay consistent, you’ll be running for 20 minutes straight in no time. That will give you the foundation you need to build up to an hour. (Need more guidance? Try The Beginning Runner’s Handbook: The Proven 13-Week Walk/Run Program.)
2) Go SLOW (at least at first).
A mile is a mile, no matter what pace you go at. Running for the first time is going to be a whole new world for your body, engaging muscles that you may not have put stress on much before. That’s why when you start, you have to allow yourself to go at a slow pace.
Instead of worrying about how fast you’re running a mile, focus on getting down the runner’s motion. Running is a tough technical sport to master. Keep your body relaxed and take small steps. Allow your body to naturally adapt to the sequence. If you can’t hold a conversation while running, you’re probably going too fast
Ultimately, give your body time to meet the new demands gradually. This will help you stay consistent and motivated to keep going.
3) Recovery is your friend.
However you feel after your first run (good, bad or, most likely, somewhere in between), give yourself a day to rest before embarking on run number two. That helps your muscles repair and your cardiovascular system adjust to its new demands. Your running plan should initially allow for one day of rest in between each day you run. Down the road, you may find you are able to run two days (or more) in a row — again, the key is to listen to your body.
4) Mix up the surfaces.
Different running surfaces bring different sets of benefits and challenges:
Positives: Soft, provides excellent cushioning.
Drawbacks: Risk of injury increases due to unevenness, roots, rocks, etc.
Positives: Ideal for speed, consistency training
Drawbacks: No cushioning makes it hard on joints, so good form is key.
Positives: Ideal for learning proper form (it forces you to lift your feet), challenging and helps build more endurance
Drawbacks: Can be difficult for beginners and hard on calf muscles
Positives: Provides good cushioning and allows for year-round training; digital pace-setting allows for a more clear picture of improvements
Drawbacks: Form is altered because the belt moves
If possible, mix it up by training on a combination of different running surfaces. This can help improve your endurance in the long run and, more importantly, reduce the risk of injury.
5) Those side aches are totally normal.
Side aches are a very typical thing for most beginner runners. They’re a good indication that you should slow down and walk while simultaneously taking deep breaths. You can also press your hand on your side to ease the cramp. When it passes, start jogging slowly again before working back up to your usual pace.
6) Cross train.
The best runners are those who do a variety of different exercises. Because running is such a full-body workout, spending time doing things like yoga and weightlifting in between can really help you improve muscle performance, core strength and fitness levels so you can go the extra mile.
7) Get a jam list together.
Studies show that listening to heart-pumping music can improve exercise performance. Create a playlist that speaks to you and pop in the earbuds before heading out. (Need some inspiration? Try our list of 8 playlists of music to power up your workout.)
8) Mindset is key to success.
Let go of any of your assumptions and expectations of what you need to do or should be doing to become a runner. Listen to your body. Go at your own pace. Be kind to yourself if you don’t do things as quickly as you had originally hoped. Having an open mindset is critical to ensuring you don’t lose your motivation.
Have you tried running? What tricks did you use to stick with it?
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.