So you want to start running but don’t know where to start…
I was “hanging out” with some of my online friends (because yeah, that’s how cool I am…) and someone asked how to get started running. After some discussion and my advice they seemed pretty disappointed. Isn’t that going to take a long time? Is there a way to speed up the process? Is there any other way that’s “easier”?
No. Plain and simple. If you do anything worth doing, it is going to take time. If you set the type of goals you should be setting, it should take you a long time and A LOT of persistent and consistent action to get there. If your goals are big enough, you will want to wake up early and stay up late so you can accomplish them. If you’re not losing sleep over your goals, they aren’t high enough…
My advice for getting started. Just know right now, it isn’t going to be easy. It isn’t going to be fast. There are ZERO shortcuts, but in the end, it is worth every step forward. Without running I would be on a fast track to a heart attack by age 35. No pills, no magic, no products, just pure hard work, determination and persistent daily action toward a predetermined destination.
- Start with a walk around the block. NOW! Two reasons for this. One, if you don’t take action toward something now, chances are you’ll never “get around to it”. Two, most people can’t run (yet). They’ve either never had the interest, they have a health problem, or they just don’t have the strength. Don’t think a walk will make a difference? I had all three problems…
- Create ONE daily habit. Don’t overthink it. If it is to walk every day great. Do it at the same time and don’t skip a day, EVER! If you want to change the way you eat, start right now and don’t give yourself “an off day”. I started with my eating goals and once I had it down, I moved toward walking every day. Based on how the brain works and human nature, I truly believe we should only try and make ONE major change at a time. If you try and do too much, you lose focus and we tend to see our missteps compound in the wrong direction.
- Review your goals. If you haven’t written your goals down yet, do it now and post them where you can see them all day long. If you aren’t staring at your goals from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, you are bound to lose focus and interest in them. I can’t stress the importance of having your goals written down. Put them in pictures, over your bed, in your kitchen, bathroom and carry them with you. Any time you feel like quitting, review your goals. Believe me, when my alarm goes off a 3am, you better believe the first thing I do before hitting the snooze is think about my goals…
- Once you’ve created the habit of taking action every day, start to move forward. I started with a walk around the block. Moved to a couple blocks and after a short while I was able to go for a mile walk without thought. One to two to three miles at a time. I started where I was and moved to where I wanted to be. Yes it takes time. Yes it seems like a one block walk is a waste of time, but it is about creating the daily discipline of getting outside and taking action. The distance will come as long as you are persistent.
- Start running the same way you started walking, one step at a time. The biggest mistake I see people make is they say one day “I’m going to go out and run 3 miles”… They haven’t run a day in their life and they think by sheer magic they will just go out be able to run. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea, the will power and the mentality, but let’s be real here. How many of us can actually do that? Not many. So why set yourself up for failure and pain? I don’t see the point. I started running one block at a time just like I started walking. On my walk one day I said I’m going to run one block. I did it. It sucked. It was miserable. I wanted to quit before I started and then really wanted to quit after I took my first step… I set myself up for success though. One block, then another and another. It took me a better part of 4-6 weeks, but I was able to run one full mile without stopping. As I was taking the daily action, it felt like an eternity… Once I hit that first mile, it felt like it happened overnight.
- Be Positive, Be Patient, Be Persistent
- You have to have a positive mental attitude. Tell yourself- I can do this. I will do this and start taking action. A positive attitude won’t take the action for you, but it will make it easier to take the action. When you hit a rough spot, if you have trained yourself to be positive, you will overcome adversity faster and be able to get back on track.
- You have to know going in this isn’t going to be easy. You have to be patient. You have to let time and action take its course. You are going to have to take a lot of action without seeing a result, knowing the results will come as long as you follow your plan. When I’m working with people on their fitness and health goals, the biggest obstacle we see when they start is the lack of instant gratification. The scale doesn’t go down, they get bored because they aren’t seeing the instant results or they don’t go from couch to marathon runner overnight. Know from the beginning this is going to take time. It will ease your frustrations as you get started.
- Persistence is the true key to success. Failure is a part of life. You will miss a day eating or walking or running. Don’t beat yourself up. My original goal was don’t miss two days in a row. Then it became to go 3 days in a row. Then it morphed into don’t miss two days in a week on to don’t miss any days in a week. I “won” a lot of weeks just by holding myself accountable and “missing” one day a week. If I had one bad day in a week, I felt like a superhero! When I missed more than one day in a week, I would regroup and promise myself I would make next week better. And to this day, I still carry this philosophy with me. If I can have 6 good days out of 7, I’m feel I’m doing awesome. My best months are when I look at my calendar and realize I only had 2 “bad” days. This gives me motivation to continue forward to my goals.
I know this sounds boring. I know it sounds like it is going to take forever. And really, it took me over a year to start running and almost 2 to go from my couch to running my first half marathon. But I have followed this guide from day one and if all goes to plan, this plan will have taken me from 400 pounds to 100 mile finisher in 4 years. As I look at it daily, it seems like an eternity. As I look back in reflection, it seems like an “overnight success”. Don’t let the time it is going to take derail you. Focus on the day ahead and keep taking action. If you miss, pick yourself up and try again. The only way to fail is to quit. The only way to succeed is to keep moving forward One Step at a Time and refuse to give up on yourself. Set high goals, take consistent action and persist over time, one day you will wake up and you will have become the person you wanted to be.
Run Epic my Friends