This is for all of you aspiring runners out there. For those of you who would love to call yourself a runner, but are still looking for that extra bit of motivation and inspiration to get out and run. Or for those of you who have tried running, but have gotten injured or discouraged and quit.
If you aspire to have a cheerful little voice in your head that says, “YES! Let’s go for a run!” instead of, “No, not today,” read on.
Becoming a run-lover doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s especially not easy to learn to love running on your own.
So how does one go from non-runner to run-lover?
About 10 years ago, I made the shift from “non-runner” to run-lover, and I’ve never gone back.
Here are 8 things that helped me get there. Read on and hopefully they’ll help you get there too.
Call yourself a runner
I haven’t always been a runner. In fact, I didn’t actually call myself a runner until I took up long-distance running in my early twenties. Before that, I was mostly an occasional treadmill runner at the gym, in combination with yoga and other fitness classes. I had never run much more than 5 km and it often included walking.
If you had asked me during my treadmill days if I was a runner, I most certainly would have said no. In hindsight, I most certainly was! It took a while to catch on, but once I started calling myself a runner there was a significant shift in my motivation. And because I called myself a runner, I joined the other runners outdoors.
If you run, you are a runner. Even if it’s here and there, you can call yourself one. Join the club. You’ll be glad you did.
Running outdoors (when the time is right for you) can dramatically improve the running experience, making you want it more. The air is fresher, the time passes more quickly, and it’s nice to feel connected with nature, especially when one spends so much time working indoors. Plus, it’s always a pleasure to support and get supported by other runners who wave hello or smile as you pass.
Sure, the weather isn’t always ideal, but you’ll get used to it. And soon enough, you may even love running in all the elements!
Track your progress
When I started out, I didn’t have any fancy electronic gadgets to track my progress. I’m not sure they even existed at that time. But I did keep a training log, and although I think what you could find now is much more motivating than a paper log, it helped keep me going.
I followed a training plan and tracked my progress as I went. I tracked each run’s distance and time, noting my milestones and celebrating my new achievements. For the first year or so, I could see that I was getting better and better. And that kept me going and kept me wanting more.
Keeping track of your progress will help keep you motivated. Try downloading Runkeeper or other run tracker, or get a GPS watch, and start running more!
When I first started calling myself a runner, I decided to do things right and get some expert guidance to get me on the right path. I was already working with a personal trainer once a week, but I decided to take on a weekly running coach as well. In addition, I joined a professional running group that provided guidance and specific running programs for my level and goals.
Had I not had this specialized guidance in my first few months as a “runner,” it’s very likely I’d have been injured and perhaps had stopped a few times or quit. Fortunately, I have only been injured twice in my entire career as a runner and I knew exactly how to get myself going again, safely.
Get guidance from someone who knows what they’re doing, even if for a few months. If you want to run for many years, it’s worth investing in a few months of specialized guidance. It will surely pay off in the long run.
There’s an African proverb that says something along the lines of: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. This is so true in running.
Right off the bat, I signed up with a professional running group and decided to start training for long-distance races. Fortunately, I wasn’t at all intimidated by joining a large group of experienced runners. This was, I discovered, the best thing I could have ever done for my motivation. There were other runners at my level, but seeing experienced runners of all ages and sizes inspired me to run more. And the support from other runners was amazing. By chatting with them week after week, I learned more and more. And I ran more. And I wanted it more.
And it didn’t take long before I felt like I was one of them—an experienced runner.
Soon I noticed that I began inspiring people around me to start running.
Set long-term running goals
My big shift from “non-runner” to run-lover had a lot to do with registering for my first long-distance running event—a full marathon—with only six months to prepare. If you don’t know, a full marathon is 42.2 km. For some reason, I didn’t think to sign up for a 10 km event or a half marathon, I just jumped right in a decided to go for the big one. I figured I’d run the other distances along the way.
As a running coach, I probably wouldn’t recommend it, but I would never say that it can’t be done. I did it! But signing up for something as big as this got me excited and it kept me going. Not only that, in my excitement, I told my friends and family. Once they knew, I felt like there was no turning back. I had to train and I had to cross the finish line.
Setting long-term goals is a great way to stay motivated. Just pick an event that you’d love to try and sign up for it. Believe in yourself and you can get there.
Don’t give up
Yes, it’s a bit cliché, but really, don’t. There will be setbacks—perhaps many of them. You’ll get ill. You’ll miss a few runs for this reason or that. You may even get injured. But whatever you do, don’t stop. Just pick back up where you left off and keep going.
Make it a priority
A big difference that I see between consistent runners and occasional runners is that running is a higher priority amongst the consistent ones.
If you say things like, “Sorry, I can’t run today because I have too much work,” you’ve just made work a higher priority. Or if you say, “running at 7 am is too early for me,” or “I can’t run because I have this to do, or that to do,” or “I can’t run because I have my kids,” you’ve just made something else more important than running. If you really want to make time for a run, you’ll go to bed earlier, or hire a babysitter, or schedule your to-do list around running.
If you really want it, it will be a priority. But until then—as the old saying goes—fake it until you make it. If you really want to be a consistent runner, fake it until it becomes a habit. Say no to that invitation for drinks because, you’re going for a run. Or schedule that meeting at 10:00 instead of 9:00 so that you can get your run in at 8:00.
Make running a top priority, and soon it will come naturally.
What do you struggle with when trying to get started? What has helped you? Share your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!