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The warmer weather has finally arrived and that means lots of opportunities for outdoor exercise! My workout of choice during the summer months is running. Today I’m sharing my favorite tips on how to start running or become a better runner and issuing the #MoveItChallenge! I hope you’ll join in!
I’ve always enjoyed running, but over the past few years, I’ve really started to focus more on it. I run three days a week, cross train three days, and rest one. All of my other workouts are geared towards increasing strength, fitness, and endurance, so I can be healthy and become a better runner.
Last year I ran two half marathons and I hope to participate in many more. If you are not currently a runner, but would like to be, I’m here to encourage and motivate you to start today!
About ten years ago, after my second child was born, I decided to start running and train for a 5k. I remember how hard that first run was. I wanted to lay down on the pavement and throw in the towel. I probably only went about one mile. I felt exhausted, defeated, and discouraged. I couldn’t see how anyone could actually enjoy running. But I kept showing up, putting my feet to the pavement, and I started noticing incremental improvements. Soon I could run two miles without stopping, and then three. And then I found that I could run those two or three miles faster, the more I did it. After awhile, I actually started looking forward to my runs and felt less tired and sore after them. I eventually became confident enough in my running that I increased my distance and completed two half marathons in one year. Those little successes have kept me going and have fueled me forward to where I am today.
I really look forward to the spring, summer, and fall months, when I can get outside regularly and run! It helps me mentally, emotionally and physically!
If you are in the same place that I was ten years ago…wanting to start running, wanting to get into shape, but not sure how to go about it, I’d like to offer you these tips that helped me (*I’m not a professional, so please consult your doctor, if necessary, and use your best judgment before starting any exercise program):
- Start where you are today. Accept that it will be hard and get moving! Even if it means walking the entire time or walking for half the distance and jogging slowly for half the distance, do whatever it takes. Just start moving.
- Stretch your muscles to prevent injury. Especially when I first started running, I noticed that I would get pulled or sore muscles easily. A good stretch before and/or after the run really helps!
- Hydrate well. Drink plenty of water. I personally don’t like to eat or drink anything while on my runs, but I make sure to drink plenty of water before and after. I can always tell when I’m not drinking enough because I get a dehydration headache. Those are not fun!
- Eat foods that will help fuel your body in the best way. I’m really sluggish on my runs when I’ve eaten poorly the day before. That’s not to say that I never eat junk food (because you know I like my desserts), but I make sure to eat plenty of protein, carbs (yes some carbs are good because they provide energy), and healthy greens and vegetables whenever possible.
- Start small and build your way up slowly. If you are not in running shape, don’t start out running. Maybe set a goal to walk for a mile and do that for a while, then the next week or week after, walk two miles at a time. Then after a few weeks, you might be ready to start a fast walk or a slow jog for a bit, walking in between. Bottom line is you don’t want to injure yourself or force your body to do something it’s not ready to do, so listen to your body. Once you’re up and running, don’t push through pain that could possibly be an injury manifesting itself.
- Cross Train. Don’t run every day. Variety is best! Work different muscle groups on different days. I run every other day and do weights and strength training (arms, legs, and abs) and cardio workouts on the in-between days. This has been the number one thing that has improved my running. I used to think that becoming a better runner meant running more often (on consecutive days), but the thing that has helped me the most is to mix up my workouts. Strengthening the muscles is just as important as actually running.
- Set specific goals for improvement and work towards them. In the very beginning, I set a goal to be able to run just one mile without stopping. After I achieved that, I bumped it to two, then three. At some point after that, I set a goal to run a mile in a certain amount of time, then two and three miles in a certain amount of time. Then I started upping my mileage goals so I could prepare for my half marathon. I set a specific finish time goal for my first half marathon (I just wanted to finish in under 2 hours). I finished in 1 hour 40 minutes. So for my second half marathon, I set a goal to finish it faster than my first. I beat my time by two minutes. 🙂
- Equip yourself for success. Wear supportive running shoes to prevent injury and clothes that will breathe and wick sweat away. I really like high-waisted pants (they stay up nicely and don’t roll down) with a side pocket for storage. HERE are some great running shorts. I love my Nike Zoom shoes. They are from a few years ago, but HERE’s a similar style. I like to use the Runkeeper app on my phone and Apple watch to keep track of my time, distance and pace. It’s also a great way to look back and see your progress. I also use the heart rate monitor on my watch occasionally to make sure I’m staying within a safe range. I typically carry my phone in this fanny pack and love it! It’s not bulky, but is large enough and stays close to my body without moving around. No matter what time of day I’m going out, I always apply sunblock to protect my skin. This sunscreen stick is my favorite because it goes on so quickly and doesn’t leave white beads when I sweat. I also typically wear a hat similar to this one to block the sun from my face.
- Stay motivated. Look for the little improvements and use those to fuel you forward. Follow runners on social media who can inspire you (@runningwithstrength @hungryrunnergirl @triandrungirl and @edge_fitness_cera) are a few that I like. Keep a training log, continue setting goals, get a running partner or at least an accountability partner, and listen to music to keep you focused and moving forward.
Ok, and now onto the challenge! Over the coming warmer months, I challenge you to exercise six days a week, for 30 minutes or more per day!
It doesn’t matter what that is. Exercise will look different for everyone. You might choose to walk around your neighborhood, ride your bike or do a home workout. Or you may want to start getting into running shape or to stay in running shape. You may want to start training for a half marathon or other event. You may want to run trails, go for a hike, swim, play tennis, soccer, or basketball. Or you may choose to play tag and other games in the yard with your kids. Whatever it may be, make it a goal to do it for 30 minutes a day, six days a week for the entire summer! I know you can do it and I’ll be doing it with you!
You’ll be amazed at how good you feel when you’re in a regular exercise routine! To participate and encourage one another, be sure to share photos on Instagram of what you’re doing to participate in the #MoveItChallenge and how it’s going! Please tag me @christine_idigpinterest on Instagram each time and use the hashtag #MoveItChallenge so we can support and encourage each other!
So, do you accept this challenge? I really hope you’ll join me! Best of luck!