Finding your stride: Tips for starting a running routine

Starting a running routine is can be a frustrating experience if you don't know what to expect. Let me break it to you now. Your body is going to scream at you and you are going to think you weren't cut out to be a runner. I guarantee you, it will get easier. Consistency is the key. Here is a good plan to work yourself into a comfortable running routine:

First, you have to surrender to the fact that you just cannot start up a running routine from scratch and think you are going to run fast. You are going to be very slow at first and that's okay, its best to accept that now. Pick a loop that's in you neighborhood or near your work. It should be a location that is easy to access on a daily basis and be between 1 and 2 miles. Accept that you are going to make it around that loop, no matter how fast or how slow, be it a run, walk, jog or shuffle. Remember, walking is good for you too!

On your first run, make sure to start off slowly. After a few minutes, start asking yourself, "do I feel good enough right now that I could keep at this pace for the next 5 minutes?" If you don't think you can, drop your speed a little. After another minute or two, ask yourself the question again. If at any point, you feel like you need to walk, that is fine! Just pick up jogging again as soon as you feel ready. And remember its okay to go slow. The speed will come later after all your muscles, joints and ligaments get stronger and your cardiovascular system more efficient. It's fine if you end up walking more then running at the beginning, just make sure you cover the distance. After you finish don't forget to stretch really good. You will still be sore the next day, but remind yourself that it won't be so bad after you get a few runs under your belt.

After you get through that first run, evaluate how it went. How sore were you? How difficult was it? If you are extremely sore, wait a few days until the soreness wears off, then try it again. Once you get past the initial soreness, commit to running that distance every other day for a month. The days between runs will give your body time to heal and strengthen. On the days you don't run remember to stretch. You could do a strengthening routine but don't work your legs as you'll want to keep soreness to a minimum. By the end of the month I bet you'll be jogging the entire distance and ready to push on to go farther and faster. At that point, think about signing up for a local 5k a few months away. It will give you the motivation you need to keep pushing yourself.

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