Are you looking to increase your cardio? Are you looking to get into running but don’t know where to start? Do you hate running but want a runner’s body?
If you answered yes, this article is for you. Some background on me, I used to hate running with a passion. Despite being good at it, and my high school principal recommending that I join the track team, I avoided it like the plague. I only ran when I absolutely had to. I learned the hard way that running was a part of badminton team training, so needless to say I was okay when I didn’t make the team after two seasons.
So how did I go from hating running to signing up for the Chicago marathon? I started running and continued running, no matter how little or how short a distance, all while hating it. What helped me was my friend who motivated me and ran with me once a week. We started at only a mile or so and over time gradually, and painfully, increased our distance. We were both novices starting out, and needless to say would walk a good amount whenever the running got tough. So that’s what I would recommend, especially for the new runners out there.
There’s nothing wrong with what is known as interval training; i.e. running and walking. The general rule is to start small and grow from there. Run for time, not distance. And try to run for 2 minutes then walk for a minute. And for your very first run, aim to run for 15 to 20 minutes. So, out of 15 minutes, you would only actually be running 10 minutes and waking 5, but in a cycle of 2 minutes running and 1 minute walking. If this is too rough, cut down to 1 minute of running and 1 minute of walking.
The most important thing to remember is to not get discouraged. Keep in mind that even on a bad day when you’re mostly walking slowly or ambling down the street, that’s better than doing nothing. On the days I feel like dying while running and end up walking more than running, I tell myself that I’m doing more than the person sitting on the couch watching TV. And even if you’re super slow, who cares! Running is running. Some people call it jogging, but either way it’s all way more than sitting and eating Cheetos.
The key is consistency. Getting your butt out for a run 2-3 times a week will make a big change in your cardiovascular health. For me, that meant having a running partner who motivated me by expecting me to run with her at least once a week. While we started at simply a mile or so, over time we slowly increased our mileage during our weekend runs. Once we got over 5 miles, I learned that I definitely had to run during the week to build my endurance for these long runs. Another helpful thing I did was signing up for races. I started out with a few fun 5K’s like the Electric Run and Ditka Dash. Over time, I signed up for longer races to motivate me to run further. Also keep in mind that while running is great cardio, variety is key to overall health and wellness. Change up your cardio and include at least 2-3 sessions of strength training every week. Some additional cardio ideas: biking, swimming, elliptical, or jogging/walking stairs.
Do you run? Do you want to run? For the runners, how did you start running? What motivates you to continue to run? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.