A beginner’s guide to running (and how to love it)

Have you always looked at people who run and wondered exactly what all the fuss is about? Right now, it might seem like a chore — but once you’ve begun your running journey, you may just discover a lifelong passion. Here’s how.

There’s a special kind of rush you get from pounding the pavement. Ask any runner. The question is, what does it take to make you genuinely excited for that running workout, instead of dreading it? It starts with mindset.

1. It’s all about perspective

Running’s not for me.” “I’m not a runner.” “I’ll run once I’m in shape.”

Sound familiar? It’s easy to get caught up on reasons not to run, but the hardest part is getting out the door. Once you start, you’ll realise you can do it, and if you’re running — congrats. You’re officially a runner! Self-doubt can be the biggest hurdle, so how we talk to ourselves matters. Tell yourself you can, and you’ll soon see that it’s true.

Set your goals before you begin. Why do you want to run? It could be to get fit, be productive, or train for an event. Whatever it means to you — that’s the most important thing to keep in mind.

Other than that, the secret is not to think about it too much. There’s rarely a perfect time, weather, or level of motivation. Everyone starts somewhere, so dust off your runners and go!

2. It’s more than the run

All kinds of things contribute to how you feel on any given run. Some you can’t control, but focus on what you can. Number one — get a good, comfortable, well-fitting pair of running shoes (game-changer).

Then there’s before and after the run. Warm up by getting your muscles going and your heart rate up, like jumping jacks or high knees. Once you’ve done your run, cool down with a slower intensity walk or a stretch.

Sleeping well, eating right and keeping hydrated also play a role in your ability to run. But it’s okay if everything isn’t quite where you’d like it to be, as long as you get moving in some way — you’re better than you were yesterday.

3. Technique comes first

Getting your technique right is important, even if it means you’re not running as fast or as far. Eventually, you’ll always come out ahead — and with much less risk of injury.

You want to start your run slowly and gradually increase pace rather than coming out blazing for the first kilometre. As you run, pay attention to what your body is telling you. Keep loose and relaxed, head up and your shoulders level. Your posture should be straight and upright, with your eyes fixed ahead (always be looking ahead!).

Your arms should swing naturally, while your strides should land softly, with bouncing kept to a minimum. A good rule of thumb is to try and land in the middle of your foot then roll through your toes, but everyone’s ideal ‘footstrike’ is different. Experiment and see what works for you, or if you’re in doubt, get your technique looked at by an expert.

4. Build the habit one step at a time
One of the joys of running is when it becomes something that you look forward to and don’t want to miss. That happens by building the habit as best you can. Once it’s a seamless part of your routine, it’s easier to keep going and fit into your schedule.

Motivation won’t always get you there, as life has a tendency to get in the way. However, a habit is about consistency and discipline. It takes much less willpower to follow a routine than waiting to be motivated.

Try and time your run to be at the same time of day, keep track with an app — Nike Run Club has a great program — and treat yourself at the end with something you enjoy, like a coffee or some quality self-care time.

You might have huge ambitions. And that’s great! But going too hard, or overtraining is only going to set you back. Start gently, and get the habit locked in before you start to up the distance, speed, frequency or intensity of your runs.

5. Make it fun!

At the end of the day, the most important thing about running is that you enjoy yourself.

Whether it’s the satisfaction of beating personal goals or finding time to reflect, reset and grow, it’s the benefits of running that make it fun.

Plus, there are plenty of ways to add to the experience. Pop in your favourite tunes, ask a friend to run with you and get excited to meet up each week. Or, take the opportunity to explore your neighbourhood or somewhere totally new.

A running group is a great way to learn things, keep yourself accountable, and have fun along the way. If you’re interested in taking part, the Nike Melbourne Marathon In-Person Training Series offers free sessions every Sunday and Wednesday. Presented by Bupa, it’s where you can prepare for race day under the guidance of running professionals. You can sign up here.

Whatever you decide to do, you’re a runner now, so enjoy the journey. And don’t forget to reward yourself — you deserve it.

Bupa. Official Health Insurance Partner of the Nike Melbourne Marathon Festival

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