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How to Start Running – Without Feeling Like a Failure

How to Start Running – Without Feeling Like a Failure

runner on beach

    Do you sometimes wish you were fitter? And maybe slimmer? I do. In fact, I’m determined to lose 7 kg in four weeks and get really fit. But how to get fit in a hurry – without spending hours at the gym?

    One of the fastest ways to get fit is to start running.

    It can be daunting if you’ve never run before. Especially if you have friends, colleagues or family members who talk casually about how they run 7 miles each morning before breakfast. (Don’t you sometimes want to throttle them?)

    I just spent three weeks with my family and two of them, my brother and my niece, thought nothing of running for an hour-and-a-half after spending an exhausting day stumbling through thick rain forest. It made me feel like a fitness failure…

    In the end, I started to run too. Because running is great for getting fit fast. There are some important advantages of running as a fitness strategy:

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    1. It boosts cardiovascular fitness.
    2. It tones your whole body because so many muscle groups are involved when you run.
    3. Weight-bearing exercise, such as running, is especially good in promoting bone density and protecting against osteoporosis, which affects men as well as women.
    4. Running is a natural movement. The body is designed to be able to run.
    5. As one of the most vigorous exercises out there, running is an efficient way to burn calories and drop pounds.

    Here are some tips that will help you develop running:

    1. Buy good shoes

    It’s worth going to a specialty shop to buy a pair of running shoes. Make sure that the salesperson looks at the shape and arch of your foot to figure out the best shoes for you. The reason good shoes are important is because it will soften the impact and protect your joints.

    2. Take it slow

    When you start running, it doesn’t matter how slow you go. Remember that your body needs to get used to new movement.

    3. Ease into running with interval training.

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    The best way to get fit fast is through interval training. This means short burst of high intensity exercise alternating with recovery periods. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, more calories are burned in short, high intensity exercise.

    Try alternating 5 minutes of walking and one minute of running for twenty minutes. As you get fitter, you can lengthen the periods of running. Once you get used to running, you can alternate slow jogging with fast sprints.

    4. Warm up first

    It’s important to warm up your body before running. Otherwise running will feel very hard and your body will moan and groan. Walking is a great way to warm up the body. Stride out and pump your arms. Start with a medium paced walk and then speed up until you start to sweat. Once your body is warm, you are ready to run.

    5. Use correct running technique

    Beginners like me find it difficult to relax while running. Keep your head up and your lower arms in hip height, and run without bouncing. It all helps to work your body more efficiently. Check out this video about correct running technique.

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    6. Run with others

    A great way to keep up your motivation is to run with others. See if a colleague or a friend is willing to come running with you. Set an interval schedule for your run and stick to it.

    7. Keep an exercise diary

    Keep a record of your new exercise routine. Write down each day what kind of exercise you have done. A great way to track your growing fitness is by measuring your resting pulse before you get up in the morning. As you get fitter, your resting pulse will get lower.

    8. Add strength exercises to the mix

    Building strength in your legs will help you to run. A simple way to build your leg muscles is by doing squats. Stand with feet a little more than shoulder width apart. As you squat, keep your feet on the ground and swing your arms to the front in order to keep your balance. Start with 3 sets of 10 squats but don’t get carried away. If you do too many at one time, you might have difficulty walking the next day! As you get fitter, you can add more sets to your squat routine.

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    9. Add a cool-down period after exercise

    It’s important for the body to cool down after running. The best way is to walk at a medium pace until your heart-rate returns to normal.

    10. Stretch after running

    It’s a good practice to stretch after running because it keeps your body flexible. Watch this short video on which stretches to do after running.

    If you follow the ten points above, you will become a runner – without feeling like a failure. Remember that you can start running at any age. Bob Hayes took up running when he was 60. After a little while, he decided to enter a 5km fun-run and his son gave him his first pair of trainers. He said afterwards, “I wasn’t feeling as fit as I would have liked to. Perhaps age is catching up on me?” Yeah, right!

    Fast forward 20 years…
    At age 80, Bob completed his tenth 50-mile ultra-marathon in Montana and has made running history. He said afterwards:

    “I’m in the best shape of my life.”

    If you follow these 10 tips, you will get into the swing of running. Soon you will feel your body tone up and slim down in response to the exercise. Best of all, you’ll begin to feel confident, healthy, and attractive.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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