Molly recently wrote a guest post over at our blog-bros site The Urban Politico. It's great stuff, go have a look.
As anyone who puts up with my occasional Twitter Rants knows, I started running a few months ago, and now find it an obsession of sorts. This coming from a guy who does crazy cardio work in the gym, but always swore his knees were too bad to run outdoors. I started very slowly. The first week I could barely do 5 minutes without dry heaving.
I gradually added a few mins to each run a week, and now I can comfortably run about 3.5 miles per session without stopping. I recently signed up for my first 5k, which I'll do in early October. Next year, I want to do a 10k. At some point in my life, provided Jesus grants me the time, I will run a full 26 mile marathon. I will.
Running has literally changed my life for the better.
In addition to Molly's sage advice, I'd add a few tidbits of my own for new/curious runners:
Start Slow - A common mistake of new runners is trying to do too much, too soon. Crawl before you ball. Start out doing 5 minute runs the first week, then graduate to 10 mins the next, and gradually add 5 minutes a week until you can comfortably do 30 minutes. Alternate walking and running if you need to. You're not racing anyone but yourself. Moderation is the key.
Learn The Technical Stuff - An undisciplined runner (like I was initially) will probably eventually find him/herself injured or discouraged when they plateau. You have to study and practice proper stride. You have to adequately stretch. You need to sufficiently hydrate. Some of this seems like overkill, but doing these "by the book" steps will make your runs easier, and allow you to extend your distance. If you don't, you'll either plateau (and probably quit) or get yourself hurt (and definitely quit).
Track Your Time/Distance - While you should initially focus on just running for a period of time, eventually you should shift to monitoring distance. There are all sorts of watches and pedometers out there to help with this, but an easier way is just using an app on your smartphone. iPod Touches/iPhones have the Nike Plus app already installed, and it's amazing. It logs your route (iPhone only) and distance and you can even post your in-run progress on Facebook so your friends can cheer you on (Note: I don't do this myself! I could only imagine the distraction.) as you try to set a new record. Either way, logging your progress helps you set and attain your goals.
Dress Properly - Get some actual running shoes before you even attempt to start running. Running in basketball or tennis shoes is a surefire recipe for disaster. Dry fit shirts, running shorts, and compression undergarments can also keep your comfortable while running. The last distraction you need is a wedgie.
Mix It Up - Don't run the same route everyday. Just like running on a treadmill, this will eventually get boring. Try new parks, city blocks, neighborhoods, etc. Running is supposed to be fun, not a chore. Take in your surroundings. You'll probably notice a million places and things you never saw everyday you drive by. Beware, running on sidewalks puts the most strain on your body! Whenever possible, run on the road itself, since asphalt is much more forgiving than concrete. You'll notice an immediate difference.
Rest - Don't kill yourself. Set your own pace. If your body is hurting, listen to it. Running in pain will only result in longterm injury. Take days off when you need them.
Enjoy - Again, running is supposed to be fun. If it's beginning to feel like a chore, switch things up and go biking, back to the gym, etc, then come back.
Question: Are you a runner? Why/why not? Got any advice for novices?