Here at Run Wild Retreats + Wellness, we’re often contacted by people who aspire to attend one of our trail running retreats, but haven’t actually started running yet. They look to the retreat as a reason to commit to a consistent running practice, a strategy we fully endorse!
However, as very experienced runners ourselves, we also know that it takes a lot more than signing up for a running retreat months down the road to stay motivated to run today. That’s why many of our retreat packages include healthy running coaching from our highly experienced retreat leaders.
Here are some other important considerations we suggest to new runners as they embark on their journey to healthy running.
1. Get the Right Shoes
Go to a specialty running retailer where the staff is knowledgeable about assessing your foot type and can recommend the right shoe for your running style. You know you’re getting quality service if they ask you such things as:
- Do you presently have any foot issues or running injuries?
- How much mileage do you do?
- Do you run on roads or trails?
- What are the kind of shoes for you?
The store staff should also have a look at your foot strike, ideally as you run on a treadmill, and examine the wear pattern on the shoes you’ve been training in, which indicate whether you overpronate, supinate or have a neutral foot strike. You should try on several pairs of shoes and even take them for a short run down the block to get a feel for the shoes before you buy.
The shoes you ultimately buy should feel comfortable right off the bat and have about a thumb’s width of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Avoid any running shoes with a very elevated heel (more than 12 millimeters). Excessive heel cushioning may encourage you to land harder on your heel than you need to, which can lead to injury.
2. Know That it’s OK to Walk
When you’re new to running, begin with a run/walk program that gradually has you spend more time running than walking as your conditioning improves. For example, commit to train three times a week, during which you alternate running and walking every few minutes for a total of 20 – 30 min (depending on your starting fitness level and health).
Each week, decrease the number of minutes spent walking, and increase the amount spent running, but sticking within your 20-30 min time limit. I highly recommend this beginner’s run-walk program by Jeff Galloway, the pioneer of the run-walk training method. It really works!
I highly recommend doing these workouts outside, not on a treadmill while watching TV or reading a magazine. What mattes more than how long the run is, is how much attention and energy you put into it.
That means that when you’re walking, do it like an athlete: pump your arms, suck the air into your lungs and feel your leg and butt muscles flex and strengthen with each step.
3. Run with Friends
Don’t be surprised if your good intentions start to wane after a while. If you fall into a routine of taking the same route at the same pace day after day–and often run alone–boredom may set in. How do you keep the mojo going?
First of all: run with a group, or at least have one buddy you run. Not only does running with others make you accountable to someone and less like to skip a workout, but your running partners can be your best source of motivation. A 2006 analysis in the journal Sport & Exercise Psychology Review proved that group exercisers demonstrated drastically higher “adherence rates” than those who worked out alone.
4. Run Early
Organizing your day to run first thing in the morning improves the likelihood you’ll stick with it. Sport psychology research backs up the idea that it’s far easier to motivate to run in the morning than evening.
For example, Barbara Brehm is a professor of exercise and sport studies at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and in her book, Successful Fitness Motivation Strategies, she outlines how self-control is a limited resource and that the stress of the day gradually erodes our willpower to exercise.
“People who exercise early in the morning have the highest adherence rates; they have not yet expended time and energy overcoming the barriers that inevitably develop during the day,” says Brehm.
5. Track Your Progress
Many new running think that as long as they have a training plan, they don’t need a training log. I suggest that in fact, keeping track of the runs you actually did and how they felt is far more important than even having a training plan.
The Mindful Running Training Log, for example, does more than give you a place to write down mileage, pace and heart rate. It prompts you to take brief notes on the more subjective–yet telling–elements of your running experience that reflect your increasing fitness and rate of recovery.
As a new runner, noticing the subtle shifts in your physical energy, motivation, increasing strength and other adaptations takes some practice. But with the help of the Mindful Running Training Log, soon becomes second nature.
A training log allows you to see how your running practice fits into the context of your life and all the other factors that affect it, such as how much sleep you get each night, your stress levels, eating habits, and others. Want to try it out? Enter your name and email below to receive a sample.
Are you running the right weekly mileage?
Use this 12-page sample to track training trends and lifestyle factors that tell whether your mileage is too much, too low or just right.