By: Maria Hennessey
Getting started with a new running program is often filled with mixed emotions: feelings of excitement and motivation are mixed in with nervousness and uncertainty. The trick to staying focused & on track is simple: make your training experience rewarding and fun. Whether you’re a seasoned runner, weekend warrior, or a total newbie, here are eight easy ways to jumpstart a new running regimen:
- Spice up your training wardrobe.You don’t have to spend a ton of money to add some pizzazz to your running gear. Find a few items that make you feel cute, fast, and strong. You’re more likely to put the workout gear on if it makes you feel good. I like to add neon colors wherever I can, because neon makes me feel like a fast and serious athlete.
- Sign up for the race. The first step to completing any race, be it a local 5k or destination marathon, is to sign up for one! Don’t procrastinate. Once you have spent your hard-earned money on a registration fee, you are much more likely to see your training through to the end. For extra motivation, make sure you tell others you’ve signed up.
- Start slowly. Many runners feel defeated or become injured if they try to do too much too soon. You should start your training slowly and build up gradually. The rule of thumb is to increase your mileage by 10% every week. Listen to your body to decide when you can push a little harder or when you should pull back.
- Keep track of your training. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a coach, no one is going to keep you accountable for your own training. Whether you use a new app or go old-school with a notebook & pen, the goal is the same: record your workouts! I like to include little notes of encouragement or things I would like to improve. At the end of your training, you can look back at Day One and say, “Wow – I have come so far!”
- Find a workout buddy. Working out alone is fine, but running with a partner will help to keep you motivated. You are less likely to skip a workout if you have plans with a partner or running group. It is also awesome to share your enthusiasm and goals with like-minded people.
- Add variety to your workouts. Too many people think that training for a race just means running countless miles. While it is important to build a strong mileage base, you should also incorporate other physical activities. Try to build strength and speed workouts into each week. Don’t forget your other favorite physical activities count toward your overall fitness level. Zumba on the beach? Yes! Tennis doubles? You bet!
- Fuel your body properly. When starting a running training program, remember to give your body the proper fuels. You don’t have to go on a strict, no-fun diet, but you do want to give your body the things it needs to help you achieve your goal. Food is energy! Try to incorporate healthy whole grains, lean proteins and all the fruits and veggies you want. The last thing you want to do is undo all of your hard work with a yucky diet.
- Reward yourself for achieving your goals. Being healthy is a huge incentive for getting active, but try to think of other ways to reward yourself for your hard work. I like to set weekly goals with small weekly rewards. Try to avoid making food your reward; instead, treat yourself to an experience. Go see a movie. Take a day hiking trip. My personal reward is to pay myself fifty cents for every mile I ran that week. I set up a “Runner’s Savings Account” and at the end of the year, I have a big reward reflecting all of my effort.
So ladies, just remember to stay focused, work hard, and have some fun with your training! If you have any tips of your own we would love to hear about them in the comments section below! Plus, you'll be entered to WIN a headband by commenting below!
Michelle Zerzanek is a runner. Sufferer of blisters. Lover of beer and dogs. Vegetarian. Boston 2013 finisher and looking forward to Boston 2014! Follow Michelle on Twitter AND check out her blog, Lace and Race!
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