I’m a terrible runner and it has never been an activity I’ve enjoyed. Aside from a quick warm-up or a random run a couple of times a year when the weather inspired me, running was not something I’d regularly do. I was better at other things that I enjoyed way more and that’s how it’s been since college. Besides, I’m a big believer that the only way you’ll make fitness part of your lifestyle is to do activities that you enjoy. But back before lockdown in March, we bought a treadmill to add to my garage gym. I planned on using it for my Peloton tread classes. I figured I’d do mostly the powerwalk and hiking classes which are done on a killer incline to mix into my routine and NOT running. But quarantine made us all go crazy and I decided to pick up running again. Why? Because I wanted the challenge. Even though I’ve been working out regularly since college, cardio fitness in one area doesn’t automatically translate to another. I’ve been slogging through my running workouts since May-ish and here’s what I’ve learned.
Beginner running tips
Since about April, I’ve added running to my workout mix, which is 100% done on the Peloton app these days. I cancelled my local gym membership after being a member for years due to just not loving it anymore. It was dirty, didn’t have the classes I wanted, etc. Anyway, what I do these days is a mix of cycling, strength, and treadmill classes.
For the running part, I’ve been doing a mix of 20-45 walk/run Peloton classes on my garage treadmill and am enjoying the challenge. I’m not training for a race. I’m not trying to be fast. I’m running for fitness and the challenge of it all, and my god, is it a challenge.
Now, I said I hate running. I hate running in a love/hate kind of way. If you truly HATE a certain fitness activity, don’t do it because you won’t stick with it for the long term and life is too short to do something you hate. I hate running in the moment. I hate feeling like I’m terrible at it and it’s hard for me. But I love pushing myself. I love how I feel when my run is over. I love the idea of being a runner and trying to improve.
It is normal for running to feel like hell when you first start. Like wondering-if-you-can-run-longer-than-a-minute kind of hell. Cursing-yourself-and-shaking-your-fist-at-the-sky kind of hell. Even if you’re in good shape! It’s totally new and your body doesn’t know what hit it.
Why do I run inside? Well, maybe I’ll move it outdoors at some point but weirdos always seem to find me and one time, a guy cornered me on an empty street dancing around like he’d never seen a runner before. It freaked me out, so for now, I’ll continue to run on my treadmill. I can pace myself that way and I just feel more comfortable in the privacy of my garage at the moment.
The Peloton classes I take are walk + runs that range between 20 and 45 minutes. Some classes have 1:1 effort vs. recovery (run/jog vs. walk) and others might have a longer or shorter mix of effort vs. recovery depending on the specific class. The work intervals of running/jogging are anywhere between 30 seconds and 4-ish minutes. Yes, mentally I think running on the treadmill is harder than running outdoors with scenery.
As you know, I’m a huge Peloton fan girl and have written quite a bit about the app on my blog. If anyone out there is looking for beginner tread instructor recommendations, I love Chase Tucker, Adrian Williams, and Selena Samuela. They are calm, make me feel capable and confident, not defeated.
I hope that after building up my running base and confidence, I’ll be able to step up my game and graduate to the all-running classes. Does running get easier?
In my experience, for disciplines that are NOT running, I don’t think working out really gets easier if you’re constantly pushing yourself. You just get stronger and become more mentally capable of handling the physical task in front of you. You become more self-assured.
When I hop on my bike for a killer HIIT class, I think to myself, “Damn, why’d I pick this class? It’s going to be killer. But I know I can get through it.”
When I start a running class, my mind hasn’t gotten over the hump yet and I think to myself, “Damn, why’d I pick this class? It’s going to be killer. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish it.”
And then I finish it. Red faced and spent. But I get through it. If I have to modify, who cares. My workout is mine and not every single one is going to leave me feeling proud. Sometimes the goal is just to finish.
Something I learned long ago from my favorite cycling instructor is that our mind tries to get us to give up well before our body physically needs to back off the effort. It’s an instinctual protection mechanism. If we can get control over our mind, the body will keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Putting in a consistent effort is helping me to show my mind that it can settle down and adapt to this running thing. I’m a couple months in, so hoping it might start to feel a little bit more doable as time goes on. When I first started, I doubted myself big time. I started too fast (more on that below) and even a minute of running felt like such a chore. My inner dialog was screaming at me to walk even after short efforts. But even in the short time I’ve been running consistently, I do think I’ve made progress and my body is learning that running is something to settle into and not fight.
I’ve committed to running three times per week. Slowly. How long will I keep it up? No idea. But for now I’m liking it. Running feels good and I welcome the challenge.
Since rediscovering running during lockdown, here’s what I’ve learned:
The wrong shoes will sabotage you.
Nothing about running is easy, so it’s imperative that you do everything in your power to set yourself up for success from Day 1. Part of this is to be in the right running shoes.
Anything that takes your focus off your running will become a problem over time, especially when you run on a treadmill and don’t have much in the way of distraction. If your shoes are uncomfortable, heavy, or meant for a different type of runner, you start dwelling on your shoes and not your run.
At first, I was wearing sneakers that I bought because I liked the way they looked — not because they were doing me any favors support wise. Then after getting fitted in a local running store, I realized I have a high arch. They didn’t have a huge selection and put me in shoes that became a major distraction 30 seconds into a run. They were too cushioned and I felt like I was running with my foot in a shoe box stuffed with a pillow. Just too big and bulky. And hot. All I could focus on were the annoying shoes.
Nothing you wear should take your focus off your run. The shoes are there to support you in your workout, not distract you from it. Basically, I don’t want to feel my running shoes at all. I returned the bouncy clunkers and took the fit notes that I got from the running store in person over to the Brooks website. I bought a pair of light shoes from Brooks that I adore. The good thing about Brooks is that you have a 90-day fit guarantee where you can test the shoes out, so buy with confidence.
I plan to write a post a few months from now on the shoes I bought once I’ve had time to thoroughly get a feel for them. They’re the Brooks Revel 3 and I couldn’t be happier. Thanks to my friend Lily of Imperfect Idealist for the Brooks rec. It was important for me to be in a shoe that was the correct fit for my foot so I could start running confidently and hopefully avoid injury.
The right clothes are everything.
This ties into what I just said above. Any type of clothing or accessory that distracts you will take your mind off the prize, which is finishing your run feeling proud. Or at least just finishing your run. 😉 Anything that chafes, binds, falls down, or rubs is going to annoy you princess and the pea style. At first, those shorts that keep riding up will be something you notice, no biggie. Five minutes later, they’re getting really annoying and you have to pull them down every minute or so. Then 10 minutes later, they are ALL YOU CAN THINK ABOUT. Not good. Your clothes should be a non-issue, like your shoes.
For me, my attire shouldn’t feel good. I shouldn’t feel anything at all. I don’t mean run naked, but nothing should be distracting.
Now beyond clothes becoming a distraction, there’s another aspect I want to mention. For me, looking good — yes, even if I’m in my garage, alone — gives me a mental boost. When I’m not wearing ratty tank tops from 2010, I’m rocking some fly gear that makes me feel like I’ve got this.
Yes, I have a Peloton tank. I also love Athleta and Lululemon. Poshmark is my friend and I buy second-hand for anything that isn’t sustainably made, since that’s important to me these days. If you use my code CORAL1223 on Poshmark, you’ll get $10 off by the way. Organic Basics is fab for well-made environmentally-friendly clothing FYI. All of the stores I’m recommending are places I’ve shopped at for years and have highly functional, well-made workout wear, so feel confident buying a few pieces.
Anyway, if you look good and that helps you to feel confident, you will have a better workout. That’s a fact. I’m sure of it. 😉 Keep in mind my wardrobe is 80/20, workout clothes/regular street clothes. OK, maybe 70/30.
A quality treadmill is worth the investment.
Do what your budget allows, first and foremost. But if you’re committed to fitness and know you’ll use it regularly, buy a piece of quality equipment. We got a reconditioned Moovyoo (French brand) and I couldn’t be happier with it. I explored all price ranges and felt that a sturdier, higher-end treadmill would serve us better in the long-term. I tried some models under 1000 euros and found them to lack shock absorption and just feel less sturdy.
After a few months of shopping around, we made our choice. Instead of buying a new treadmill, we compromised and got a reconditioned one (probably a showroom model) with a warranty and it’s been great. No regrets. Investing in your health is never a mistake. My outdated bathroom in need of a few upgrades might beg to differ along with my backyard in need of some furniture and decorating, but oh well.
Do not do too much too soon.
I’m talking about speed, distance, and overall frequency here.
I had a friend whose dad would go on a random fitness blitz every year where he’d get super motivated for like two weeks and then fall off the wagon. Why? Because he’d go nuts right out of the gate. He’d go from being a sedentary guy to a guy who would bust out a 5-mile run overnight and then be moaning and groaning for days after… and then not run again until the next blitz. No wonder he gave up. It’s not sustainable, or smart, to go from zero to 60 like that. Have a plan, let your body adapt, and take on only what you can handle.
Can I run for 30 minutes straight? Yes, I’ve done it. But am I busting out my max efforts a couple of months into running? Nope. I’m sticking with my walk + run classes until I know I can confidently and safely step it up. There’s no better way to feel defeated and throw in the towel than to try to take on too much too soon or get injured because you couldn’t hold back.
Speed is not the goal. At least not now.
If you run alone in your garage like me (or even if you don’t), speed doesn’t matter. No one gives a crap at how fast you run. It’s all about the total length of your workout to build up endurance. I remember back in high school, the kids running 9-minute miles were considered the slow ones. Now, I probably couldn’t run a 9-minute mile if there was a bear chasing me. Well, maybe if there was a bear.
But the point is, you will get a great workout in even at a slow speed and you’ll only progress from there. For my runs at the moment, I can handle between 5.5 and 6.5 mph depending on the interval and incline. My heart rate skyrocketed at the beginning even at a snail’s pace because it was a new activity for me. Run at a pace that you can sustain (relatively speaking) and talk through. Slow down to 14 or 15-minute miles if you’re completely new to working out. Run for 10 seconds at a time and build up if you have to. There is no shame in starting slow.
Consistency is key.
Finally, and maybe the most important, is that if you’re starting a running routine, stay consistent with it. Set out to do whatever makes sense for your fitness level and goals, so twice a week, three times a week, or whatever. Then make it a priority. Like most things in life, consistent practice is the only way to make progress, so commit. Do it. Then do it again.
I have no ability to run in the afternoon, so if I don’t get it in before lunch, I know I’ve missed the opportunity. On days when I know I need to run, I make sure I do it and everything else stays on the back burner until I’m done running. If it’s important to you, you’ll make time for it and find a way to stay consistent. You’ve got this!
Do you run? Have you gotten back into it recently? Need some moral support? Email me. I’m right there with you….