There was a time once when I wasn't a runner, when I was just a person who worked out often, was in good shape but just wasn't a runner. I had an idea about the positives that I could achieve from running, but I just hadn't taken that first step towards actual running.
Now, a little more than a year into my running life I've got five races under my belt, including a half-marathon, and am looking forward to many years of running ahead of me.
I figured since I took that first step and began to run, I could help others in a similar position. I'm sure there are lots of people out there who are either runners but don't know it or want to become runners but aren't sure about it. I think I was a little bit of both, though sometimes I feel like I wasted 15 years of my life by not having figured out that I had this undeveloped love of running.
Anyway, you never know who will stumble upon this blog, who is out there looking for some sort of tips and guidelines and advice. I was that person once, trying to find any bit of advice that would help me, both practical and long-term. So periodically I'll be posting random tips and advice aimed at the beginning runner. And really, there are just some things about running that are good to know and read up on even if you've knocked out a few 10Ks. I don't think there are many Olympic-caliber runners out there, so many of us are in the same boat.
With that, my first tip for the beginning runner:
Don't Worry About Time Or Distance
When you run, you have to run a specific distance, and you must do so under a certain time; otherwise the run will be worthless.
Except of course that's not at all true.
Sure, there is a part of running that is about meeting goals, such as setting a personal record or conquering a mile-marker, whether it's two miles or 22 miles. But when you're just starting out, there is no need to burden yourself with more than what you've already got on your plate.
You've never stepped on a track before? You've never run more than two miles before? Why set yourself up for failure then and try to run an eight-minute mile?
Running is about health. Running is about accomplishing things you never thought possible. But most of all, running is about having fun, about enjoyment. It really is. Running can be fun. It can be relaxing. It can be soothing. It can be enjoyable.
So don't make it a chore from the start.
Oh, don't get me wrong. There will be runs that you will hate. There will be times during runs where you will wonder why you ever thought it was good idea to set out on the run. I think that happens to me every other run. But that's just doubt creeping up on me, the proverbial little red devil on my shoulder.
Running is what you make of it. There are the elite runners who make a living from running, and somewhere far beneath that class is where most of the rest of us are, running for health, for relaxation, for fun, for challenge.
Once you get your legs underneath you and you're churning out long run after long run, you'll naturally want to test yourself and then time might become more of a factor. Then, you'll want to tackle some distance you'd previously thought was insane. Five miles to me used to seem like a ridiculous amount of miles. Now, it's not. Now, 20 does. And one day, that won't either.
Everything in due time.
First things first. Take your first step. Go on your first run. Then go on your second run. Then go on your third run. Enjoy yourself. Don't worry about time. Don't worry about distance. Run and develop your love of running.
Everything else will take care of itself.