Starting a new running routine isn’t easy. Do a quick Google search and you’ll get an unending number of (often conflicting) sources telling you what you should and shouldn’t do, leaving your head spinning and making you question if this sport is right for you. Before you get overwhelmed and give up, let us help you out. These five rules will help you stay consistent in your new routine so that you can progress and feel confident in yourself.
You’re allowed to take walk breaks
Many runners (new and old) mistakingly believe that taking walk breaks during their runs somehow makes them non-runners. We promise — if you take a couple of walk breaks during a run, it still counts as a run. In fact, for many beginners, walk-running is the best way to ease yourself into a new running routine, both physically and mentally. If running 5K nonstop sounds terrifying to you, try instead running for five minutes and walking for five minutes for a total of 30 minutes. As you get fitter, you can gradually walk less and run more until before you know it, you’re crushing your first 5K.
You’re not always going to feel like running, and that’s OK
Another common misconception new runners have is that veterans of the sport always feel like going for a run and never struggle with motivation. This could not be further from the truth. Runners of all levels, right up to Olympians, have days when they’d rather stay in bed than push themselves out the door for a run.
If you have a day (or two, or three) when you aren’t in the mood, there’s nothing wrong with you. It also doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. When your motivation wanes, try convincing yourself to go out and run (or walk/run) for just 10 minutes. Chances are, once you get out there you’ll feel better and want to keep going. If you don’t, a 10-minute run can still have a positive impact on your health and your mood.
Don’t give up just because you missed one run
On that note, if you have a day when you succumb to your lack of motivation, don’t beat yourself up about it and definitely don’t give up. Give yourself a little pep talk and get out there the next day. Missing one, or even two or three runs doesn’t mean your entire goal of starting a new running routine is ruined.
You don’t have to run fast all the time
In fact, you shouldn’t. Many new runners think they have to get out there and run as hard as they can, or else they didn’t get a good workout. This approach will almost always lead to injuries and burnout. Start slow, start small, and build yourself up. Learn to enjoy running first, then add the speed in later.
Don’t compare yourself with others
Apps like Strava, RunKeeper and other fitness trackers can be a great way to stay motivated, but they do have downsides. It’s easy to look at what others are doing and get discouraged because you see them running farther and faster than you, which can be de-motivating and cause you to give up. On the flip-side, you risk getting stuck in the comparison trap and end up pushing yourself harder than you should.
Don’t compare yourself to what other runners are doing, especially when you’re first starting out. You have no idea what their running history is or what their goals are. Do what you can with what you have starting from where you are, and progress at a pace that feels healthy and sustainable for you.