How to Love Running (From Someone Who Used to Hate It!)
Once upon a time, I’d rather shoot myself in the foot than run a kilometre. Not anymore.
To run or not to run: A young woman’s conundrum
I’ve hated running for as long as I can remember. When we had to run laps in gym class during elementary and high school, I’d grudgingly trudge around the track, cursing under my breath because even a light jog would hurt my lungs. Let’s just say gym was not my favourite subject.
But now that I’m 30 and starting to realize that I won’t be young forever, my fitness level has become much more important to me. I want to be able to walk and swim and ski when I’m an old lady and I refuse to be bound to a bed or wheelchair if a little effort can make a difference. And since I’ve always admired runners (good lung capacity is sexy!) and running requires no equipment or gym membership, I want a weekly jog to be part of my fitness regimen.
That’s why I started once-a-week training with Nike+ Run Club — to learn how to run properly and maybe even enjoy it. And (spoiler alert) now I do. Here’s what I learned over my six-week journey.
Tip 1: Get cute, high-performance gear
It turns out that what you wear matters — at least, it does for me. I’m much more likely to workout or do a few laps around the block if I feel cute in my leggings and tank top and they’re freshly washed and free of holes. If you’re running in extreme temperatures, you’ll also want to make sure you have the right layers, like a hat, gloves and jacket formulated specifically for running. I was lucky enough to get decked out in Nike garb, including the new Nike Epic React Flyknit runners, but I think all that matters is that you like what you’re wearing, it wicks sweat, you’re warm enough (if it’s cold, windy or rainy) and your shoes are comfy and lightweight.
These tips will help you find the right running shoe fit for you.
Tip 2: Practice good form
During my first precision running session at Equinox with Nike trainer Brittany Hern, I learned that I’ve been running wrong my whole life. First, you’re supposed to land on the balls of your feet, not your heels. Who knew? Second, you want your shoulders to be relaxed (or “loose”) and your arms strong. I didn’t even know that it was possible to run that way. And the more you pump your arms, the faster your legs will want to move. I used to get incapacitating shoulder pain the few times that a friend convinced me to run with her and it made movement unbearable. Since I started Nike training, I’ve had no running-related aches.
And of course you want to stretch before and after your run so you’re not stiff as a board the next day.
Tip 3: Start slow
If you’re anything like me, trying to go for a half-hour sprint on your first day of training will not be the key to success. Instead of pushing us to the max, our trainer, Brittany, took our group through a series of treadmill workouts that involved a mix of walking and running, with and without an incline, to build up strength. For my first run, I set my walking pace at 3mph and my peak pace at 6mph (though I’ve since gone to 7.5mph as my peak pace).
Here’s what we did:
- 1 min 20 seconds – run at 1.5mph below peak pace at 1% incline
- 1 min – walk pace
- 1 min 20 seconds – run at 1.5mph below peak pace at 2% incline
- 1 min – walk pace
- Repeat until you reach 7% incline
- Go to 0% incline
- 1 min – run at 1mph below peak pace
- 1 min – walk pace
- 1 min – increase run pace by 0.1mph (so 0.9mph below peak pace)
- 1 min – walk pace
- 1 min – increase run pace by 0.1mph (so 0.8mph below peak pace)
- Repeat until you reach 0.1mph below peak pace
Working out in other capacities will also build up your strength and make you a better runner. Around the time that I started Nike+ Run Club, I promised to workout two or three additional times a week doing HIIT and barre classes. I’ve noticed that my strength and endurance have slowly built up and running has become easier.
Tip 4: Don’t compare yourself to others
The nice thing about group classes where you run on a treadmill is you never have to know how fast anyone is going. You can jog or run at your own pace and you’ll still be right next to each other. I think one of the worst things you can do is try to run with someone beyond your fitness level. Either they’ll push you harder than you want to go and you’ll hate it and never want to run again, or they’ll run so slow that you feel guilty for holding them up. If you decide to run with a group, pick people at your level. That’s not to say you should never push yourself, but if your first goal is to love running, you shouldn’t feel like throwing up afterward.
Check out this Diary of a New Runner.
Tip 5: Track your progress
Use an app that can keep track of your speed and distance travelled and compile it all in one place. Of course, I used the Nike+ Run Club app because I was running with Nike, but use whatever works for you. It’s a huge motivator if you can see that you’ve run farther or faster than ever before, or that you’ve accomplished all of your Sunday runs.
Tip 6: Set goals
I’ve only been able to run/walk five kilometres at a time so far, which isn’t huge, but it’s really meaningful for me because I’ve been able to do it without pain or hating every second. I’ve signed up for a 10-k run that’s 10 weeks away and I plan on running once or twice a week to prep. I’m OK with walking part of the way if necessary because my goal right now is simply to stay consistent and enjoy myself — not to clock an amazing time. In just six short weeks, my whole perspective of running has changed and I hope I continue to surprise myself. Wish me luck!
If you’re thinking of starting your own run journey, read this quick story to help you avoid injury.