Well, I turned to running.
Being stuck inside all day is not my cup of tea, and even though I was going on daily walks to help alleviate the feeling, it just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I needed something more.
I have a small history with running — those high school years on the cross country team had to come in handy, right? — so I assumed getting back into it would be simple.
Instead, it requires a lot of mental strength, endurance and consistency. You have to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the past 22 months about becoming a runner again, and some tips you might be able to use if you want to get started — especially during the colder months.
Phase 1: Run-Walk-Method
On the first day I started running again, I could only run for one minute without stopping. I know, embarrassing.
I was quite surprised since I work out weekly in other ways, including on a stationary bike, but it’s not the same. After the pathetic attempt, I quickly went to Google to find a somewhat-quick solution.
I’m not huge on following workout plans, so I implemented the method in my own way:
- Day 1: Walk/run in one minute intervals for 30 minutes
- Day 2: Walk/run in one minute intervals for 30 minutes
- Day 3: Walk two minutes, run five minutes for 30 minutes
- Day 4: Walk two minutes, run five minutes for 30 minutes
- Day 5: Rest
- Day 6: Run 10 minutes straight (Equaled one mile for me)
- Day 7: Rest
Remember, it’s important to stretch before and after each run. Here are some stretches to check out.
(Disclaimer: I’m not a fitness expert. This method is what worked for me, but everyone is different.)
Phase 2: Pace and increasing mileage
Determining your pace is extremely important. It’s what will allow you to sustain longer mileage and build stamina without burning out in the middle of a run.
Aim for a 10-minute mile before trying to better your pace.
For the first month, I added a half-mile to my runs every two weeks, equaling two miles by the end of the month. It will be uncomfortable and you will have to push yourself. But as a beginner, it’s crucial to get comfortable with being uncomfortable if you want to see improvement over time. No pain, no gain.
I did the same routine up to three times a week until I was able to hit a 7-minute-30-second mile pace for two miles. It took about two months.
Once I hit that goal, I ran a 5K (3.1 miles) once a week at a 10-minute pace. Not my best time, but as long as you’re not sitting on the couch, pat yourself on the back. Pace will improve in time.
Phase 3: Test your limits
I ran one 5K per week for another month and then wanted to see if I could run a 10K (6.2 miles).
The day I attempted to up my distance to four miles, I actually ended up running the 10K by accident. I felt good after the four miles and didn’t want to stop. But, I don’t recommend doing this — you can injure yourself if you’re inexperienced.
I think the reason I was able to make such a leap in mileage is because I used to run competitively and was already in decent shape. My pace was 11 minutes — slow but comfortable.
Ultimately, slow and steady is the way to go when trying to build mileage.
Phase 4: Maintenance
To get a quick workout in, I run two miles a couple times a week. That’s really all you need to maintain your running fitness, as long as you don’t plan on racing. Just go by feel — If I feel like running a 10K I do, but i put no pressure on myself. Having that mindset will make you stick to it.
Having proper running shoes is very important in preventing injury (as I learned the hard way).
For example, if you’re a heel striker (like me) you would really benefit from having sneakers with a thick sole, such as the Hoka Bondi 7.
Here is a list of popular running shoes worth checking out:
As for clothing, wearing tight layers is the way to go so you can keep warm in the winter. You’re going to want a base, middle, outer and shell layer for your upper body, as well as tights for your lower body. You could also add shorts over your tights for extra insulation.
Covering your extremities is also crucial to trapping body heat. I recommend wearing gloves, a hat or headband, and a neck gaiter.
Here’s an example shopping list of gear:
- Base: UA ColdGear Authentics Crew, $55
- Middle: Nike Element 1/2-Zip Running Top, $51
- Outer: Lululemon Cross Chill JacketRepelShell, $198
- Shell: The North Face Aconcagua Vest, $119
- Tights: Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tights 25″, $98
- Shorts: Nike Tempo Running Shorts, $23
- Gloves: The North Face Etip Recycled Glove, $45
- Hat: Tough Headwear Thermal Retention Hat, $12
- Headband: Fleece Ear Warmer, $11
- Neck Gaiter: UA SportMask Fleece Gaiter, $40
What you need for recovery
Running puts a ton of strain on the body and muscles, so establishing a recovery routine is essential.
Here are some items I like to use:
And, most importantly water, which is free.
Some final thoughts
Becoming a runner again is not going to happen overnight — it’s going to take hard work.
Although tough, it will feel rewarding in the end.
Good luck, and just have fun.
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