Prior to be embarking on my own personal journey of self-discovery, I recall enviously watching runners as they seemed to effortlessly float through my neighborhood. They seemed so majestic, and made running look so easy! But the thought of strapping on a pair of old tennis shoes and fumbling my way, huffing and puffing, along the pavement provided me with a completely different mental picture. There was no way I could ever be as awesome as the seemingly mythical creatures that paraded past my home. No possible way.
Have you ever felt this way? Or perhaps, do you currently feel this way? It’s easy to feel intimidated when you see seasoned runners gliding along with barely a drop of sweat glistening on their lean bodies. You may think, “Where do I even begin? I want to try, but don’t know where to start.” Sound familiar? Well I can happily say that just because you aren’t there right now, doesn’t mean you can’t be there someday. And to supplement that, it also doesn’t mean that you HAVE to attain that ideal to be a successful runner either. I’d like to share a few pointers that may help encourage you onward in your running journey, and I hope you are able to find the confidence, motivation, and strength as you take your early steps into the running world.
First things first, please remember that you are perfectly fine just as you are! Now granted that’s no excuse not to incorporate some sort of physical activity into your daily life. My hope is that you love yourself enough to take wonderful care of your body, and running is one really fantastic way to do this. And yes, while there are beautiful, lean runners who will speed by you effortlessly just when you feel about ready to collapse on the pavement, there are also so many normal, everyday people out running who struggle, just like you, as they are also working toward gaining their legs as newborn runners.
There’s no specific mold that you need to fit to be a runner. Runners come in all different shapes and sizes, and no matter how fast or slow you may run, you’re no less of a runner just because you may not look like an elite athlete. That’s really one of the greatest things about running, because although you may have to fit a specific body type to become a runway model (which, who does anyways right?!?), you don’t have to be confined to any look or shape to be a runner! It’s simple, all you have to do is run.
There is an unspoken connection felt between runners that is so encouraging. Whether you run before the sun rises, or as the final hurrah to a busy day, as long as you are out in the world running at the same moment we are, we feel as though you are family. There’s no judgment to pass, and no rules to abide by. Discovering this fact will help build your confidence as a runner, and you’ll come to the realization that the only person you need to worry about judging you, is you! Have confidence in yourself, and you can do amazing things, so don’t be your own roadblock!
Once you’ve gained your confidence, it’s time to prepare yourself to get out and run, which means you need some gear! And here comes the overwhelming onslaught of running clothes, running shoes, running accessories, running supplements… you name it, there’s hundreds of different brightly colored products, beckoning you to buy their brand. It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin! I recall purchasing my very first pair of running shoes; I wore a sundress and sandals to a generic sports store, and selected a pair of shoes that were cheap yet cute without bothering to try them on. I assumed that all shoes were created equal, and boy did I learn my lesson!
There are a few things that are very important to the success of a comfortable run, and the number one item is wearing correct shoes! Many people do not realize that each runner has a unique style of running, and there are specific shoes created for each type. For example, some of us run on our toes, some on our heels, some people’s feet roll in when running, and some roll out. How can you find out how you run? I highly recommend heading to a local running store for help in selecting your perfect pair of running kicks. These stores are specialized for runners, and the staff will be educated to help fit you to the best shoe. And please don’t go cheap on your running shoes just for the sake of saving a buck! Buying a quality pair that fits your specific running style will not only provide a more comfortable, enjoyable run, but will aid in avoiding injury, which can be much more costly than a $100 pair of shoes!
When it comes to a lot of running gear, your selection of clothing, supplements, and accessories will mostly come down to personal preference. Many items these days are brightly colored, with fun, funky patterns, and a pizzazz that shouts, “Look at me! I’m awesome because I run!” The diversity of available gear will give you the ability to display your own personality style, so have fun with it! I can personally attest to the positive boost a great new outfit gives me, I’m eager to get out and run in my colorful new gear, so treat yourself once in a while! Just because you’re sweating doesn’t mean you have to look drab doing it! On a budget? Some running clothes can be costly, but places like Old Navy and Target offer great options at a fraction of the cost. And ladies, you’ll want to find running clothes that are not only sweat wicking (No cotton! It will stifle you and weigh you down!), but that also provides the support that you need to enjoy your run without discomfort or distractions.
Finally, if you find yourself lacking in the motivation department, grab a friend that will accompany you! Having a friend to hold you accountable will keep you on task, will help the time go by quickly, and will help give you motivation to continue on. You can get healthy together and nurture your friendship through regular running sessions. Don’t have a friend who is willing to join in on your running adventures? Running groups have become very popular, so you’re likely to find one in your area that will welcome you with open arms! Don’t be shy, the more the merrier is the mentality of a running group!
Ultimately, running is what you make of it, so be sure to approach it with an open mind, a willing heart, and above all, don’t forget to have fun! Running should be something that you love, not something you dread. Now get out there, get running, and good luck!
Holly Joy Berkey