At the beginning of the semester, I signed up for the “Turkey Trot” (a 5k race in downtown Detroit on Thanksgiving morning) at the urging of my dad. I hated running and never thought I’d be able to make it 3.1 miles, but after two months of practice, I can finally do it! Here are some tips and things I learned along the way; hopefully it’ll provide you some inspiration to get out and try running!
- Get the right shoes: I started running in shoes that were 4 years old, and couldn’t figure out why I kept getting shin splints. So, I decided to get professionally fitted for running shoes at a running shop. Getting fitted for the right shoe is important and will help prevent injury. You may be reluctant to spend a lot of money on new shoes like I was, but running in proper shoes is super critical and will make a world of difference!
- Start slow: At first, I went out and tried going a full 3.1 miles as fast as I could. By the time I reached 1/2 mile, I was exhausted and had to stop. You can see how this would be defeating and make you want to give up! So don’t push yourself too hard; running should be enjoyable and not feel like a punishment. Set reasonable goals for yourself and gradually increase those goals over time.
- Don’t compare yourself to the person on the treadmill next to you: This one was hard for me. Looking over and seeing someone running what appears to be a marathon while you’re struggling to reach the mile mark can also be defeating. But trust me, they’ve most likely started out where you are and have worked hard to get to where they are today. Focus on your individual goals.
- Rest: It is important that you listen to your body; if you’re sore, take a day or two off so that you can heal and become stronger rather than doing more damage to your body. This is especially important if you feel like you are getting shin splints (a common running ailment).
- Cross-train: Take days off from running to do other cardio activities, like biking or swimming. This will help keep up your endurance while giving your running muscles a break!
- Vary your routine: I’m partial to treadmills, but running outside can provide a nice change of scenery, especially if you head out to the arb or other parks around town.
So if you’re how I once was, fearful of running and not able to see how it could at all be enjoyable, go out and give it a try using these tips! Trust me when I say that if I can do it, anyone can do it. Check back after Thanksgiving for some post-race updates!