It’s Time to Fall in Love With Running

Step 1

Starting a new habit is hard, especially when it’s one you kind of dread. But here’s the trick: Don’t go all in and swear you’ll run six days a week if you’ve barely run before. Create a schedule and stick to it.

Pro Tip: Lay your running outfit next to your bed the night before. It's one less thing you have to do before a morning run. Treat your training time like you would an important appointment, and if you’re really struggling to commit, find a workout buddy or a group so you have a solid reason to get out there as often as you need to.

Step 2

For newbies and seasoned runners alike, it’s crucial to set goals. Giving workouts a purpose—whether it’s to lose weight, finish that first race, or set a personal best time—makes them more valuable than running mindlessly. Goals keep you consistent.

Pro Tip: Always aim to start your race or run a little slower. Using a conservative pace to start primes you for a great finishing kick. But it can be daunting to plan your own training schedule to reach your goal. Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of resources to help you out. If you have a question, or just need a pep talk, fire away here. We’ll be checking back daily to make sure you’re on the right track.

Step 3

As the cliché goes, you only need shoes to start running. That’s mostly true, which puts a lot of pressure on finding the perfect pair. The most surefire way to do this is to head to your local specialty running shop. They’ll put you on a treadmill and analyze your stride to match the right fit and style with how you naturally run.

Pro Tip: Consider replacing your running shoes once they’ve covered 300 to 500 miles. Once you have the kicks, you’ll want to add a few other essential pieces of gear to your closet to make the run comfier: like a friction-free pair of shorts, performance socks, and sweat-wicking tops.

Step 4

If you feel pain, you’ll want to take a break. Which means the most important factor in becoming a consistent runner is becoming a healthy one. When first starting out, there are a few common injuries that can plague you if you’re not careful. Luckily, you can avoid these issues altogether by taking some precautions. First, make sure you don’t ramp your weekly runs up too quickly. Even if you are feeling great, going too hard too early can lead to injuries, since your body isn’t used to the effort.

Pro Tip: Up your weekly mileage by only 10 percent to avoid injury. That means if you run 10 miles the first week, don’t run more than 11 the next. Additionally, strength training and stretching are keys to strong, pain-free running. Squats, lunges, glute bridges, and planks are great for strengthening your legs and core—two muscle groups that help you run faster and longer. Finally, you’ll also need to spend some time in the kitchen. Nutrients such as carbs, protein, fiber, and iron will give you energy, build your muscles, and ensure you don’t “hit the wall” (runner-speak for not fueling enough to get through a workout).

Step 5

You’re never going to head out the door if you don’t have a reason. It doesn’t matter how small or big it is, you just need to find one. Sometimes it helps to read about someone else’s amazing journey.

This article was originally published on Runner's World