As my upcoming knee surgery gets closer (we’re under two weeks now), I’ve been thinking a lot about running – and waxing nostalgic about how I got started with a sport I used to hate. I’m by no means a great runner. I don’t think I’ll ever be anything to write home about when it comes to running, but I love it. It’s therapeutic. It’s a challenge. It’s something I never thought I could do, but I do it, and I love it. I’ve run seven half marathons to date, as well as one full marathon. And, once I’ve recovered from my MPFL reconstruction, I want to get right back it.
For those curious, no, running is not the reason I need knee surgery. I talked a little about it on my instagram, but this is an issue I’ve had for a long time. My left knee likes to subluxate and dislocate, and I’ve done it about 20 times in my 32 years. In December, it happened randomly, and I wasn’t able to bounce back. This surgery should tighten my ligaments and kneecap back up, and I should be able to run pain-free – finally! Basically, my point is that running isn’t the cause for me…it’s the cure, and I can’t wait to get started again. Here are five tips to starting from zero like I did (and will do again) soon.
1 // Set a goal. I like to think that being intentional helps in any regard, but especially with fitness. My first goal when I started running was to stay fit through my first pregnancy. I ran for the first 32 weeks, and it was incredible. I was out running again just three weeks after giving birth, and we set big goals. I wanted to do a half marathon, so we ran Lake Placid. It doesn’t matter how big your goal is, honestly. Just set a goal. Whether it’s to be fit, do five miles a week, run your first 5k, or beyond, your goal will be your driving force.
2 // Invest in proper running gear. One of the biggest mistakes I made when I got started was not investing in good gear – mainly shoes. Running is hard on the joints. However, great shoes absorb a lot of the shock, and actually protect your feet and joints from damage. I got fitted for shoes at Fleet Feet Syracuse, and I fell in love with Adidas Supernova running shoes. They fit my neutral stride, and I learned a lot about how my knees and feet track when I run. Quality athletic gear is also important. I wear a reflector vest (regardless of the time of day) from Nathan. I also invested in great headphones, and I have this hydration belt for longer runs. Buy gear and clothes that you will be comfortable in for a long time. Remember, it’s an investment.
3 // Focus on time over distance. This was a hard one for me when I started. I’m an all-in kind of girl, and I wanted to start off running three miles. Some people are able to. Others, like myself, are prone to injury if they go from zero to 60 too quickly. When I started running, I ran for a certain amount of time versus a certain distance. I started with 30 minutes, and as I progressed, I was able to run further in that amount of time. Only after about a month of running 30 minutes consistently four-five days a week, did I start to focus more on distance.
4 // Choose a running app. Regardless of your goals, a running app is a great way to visually see just how far you’ve come through the process. Two of the most popular running apps are Strava and Nike+ Run Club. I, personally, prefer the Nike app. I like that it pauses if I have to stop my runs, and I’ve been using it since the beginning, so it’s familiar. Both offer ways to connect with other runners, too, which is motivating. Nothing beats a sense of community.
5 // Train your brain – and your body. Your brain will tell you that running is too hard. It’ll convince you that you want to stop. Here’s the thing. When you first start, running is uncomfortable. For me, it was so far beyond my comfort zone that I really didn’t want to do it. Teach yourself to shut off that negative voice, and convince yourself that you can and you will do it. A great way to do this is to listen to postive podcasts while running. They encourage you to get out of your own headspace. Ultimately though, remember that your body is the boss. Listen to your body. Know the difference between discomfort and pain.
I hope that these five tips help someone get started running because I really wish I’d known more when I began. Running might not seem like a feasible goal or solution, but if you want to start, you can. It’s transformed so much of my outlook on fitness, as a whole, and I’ve truly fallen in love with running.
Are you a runner? What are your favorite tips to give those hoping to get started?