You might think as the manager of a running store, and coach of running groups, that I am one of those people who always ran, or for whom running came easily. Not quite. I did not love running when I started doing it regularly - sometime halfway through college when the freshmen 15 found me, twice. I have a notoriously type B personality as evidenced by the state of my car, desk and room at any given moment- so when I started running it took some time (ok, a long time) for me to develop a groove, but I have developed some grit and discipline over the years that helped me become the dedicated runner I am today. If you’ve read anything I’ve posted previously about running after a baby you know that being a “dedicated runner” has changed a lot in meaning for me over the years. In any case-- my point is, that even every runner started somewhere, so kudos to you for taking the first steps.
Start by finding your motivation. This is certainly easier said than done, but I’m guessing if you are taking the time to read this you have some internal drive to get started. To make this more concrete, set a goal. A goal that means something to you will likely be more motivating than something arbitrary. So while I live in the world of events and set goals that way, for example a local 5K charity race is a great first running goal, you may find something like “I want to be able to run the soccer field perimeter four times in a row with my daughter by the springtime” is more meaningful to you. Whatever your goals are- make them concrete, realistic, meaningful to you, and put them to paper.
Now get yourself some support. For many people this means some companions, so if you have a lot of local friends and family- see if anyone wants to join you. If not, we live in a fantastic running and walking community here in Maryland and you can find some group options at your local Charm City Run. If you’re the introverted type there are wrist and app gadgets galore that allow you to connect virtually with other runners and walkers of all levels (a few examples are MapMyRun, Strava, and RunKeeper- but there are so many more).
Plan on scheduling assistance to make things easier. This builds on the support mentioned before and could include negotiating with family for time away from chores or children, or scheduling a pet sitter. Depending on where you work you may be able to run before or after work or on your lunch break. You will be surprised how many people can help you achieve the time you need to go for a run when you ask for the help.
Create sustainable habits. Once you have decided on running, it can be easy to lose that fire that first got you out of the house, so creating habits that help keep you going on the days you just aren’t feeling it will be key. You can find plenty of inspirational Instagram accounts, Pinterest boards, or Twitter accounts to keep you focused with quotes and images to lift your running spirits. Building habits, however, will be about knowing yourself and creating opportunities to succeed instead of make excuses. Some examples might include moving your alarm clock out of reach so you have to get out of bed to turn it off (and while you’re up-- keep on with that morning plan to get out the door and run!) or choosing to hit the hay a little earlier to allow for a morning run without losing too much sleep.
I like to have a set of running gear and some baby wipes in my car so I can run anytime on the go. Now that running has become something as requisite as brushing my teeth for me, I find a new playlist and some nice running scenery are all I need to get me moving. You can use the community you build for support to hold you accountable when needed. Running takes some work and will require being uncomfortable at times. Expect this and embrace it as part of the journey.
Treat yourself like a runner. After I had been running for a few years and was always complaining about my knees and shins, my mom took me to Charm City Run in Timonium, where I met Josh. I was living in Florida at the time and home for a short visit. I told Josh I wasn’t really a runner, but that I was trying to train for a race near where I was living, and that my shins were always bothering me and I could barely tolerate a run longer than 20 minutes. He fit me for shoes that were $130 (this was in 2005) and I believe my words were “Well I’m definitely going to lose some weight since I won’t be able to afford groceries this week!” My mom rolled her eyes at me and bought me the shoes. Lo and behold, my shin splints went away, running got easier, and a few pounds came off seemingly without effort.
Fast forward 12 years and I manage a store for CCR-- so those shoes had a profound impact on my life. This is a long anecdote to say-- even when you are getting started, you should treat yourself like a runner and get the proper gear. Shoes first, socks next, sports bra if you are in need, and eventually clothes. But start with shoes fit by someone who knows their stuff- it truly makes a difference.
Now Get Out There! As I alluded to before, learning to incorporate running into your life will be a process. Expect setbacks and use them as a chance to reset your plan and make it better for the next go. Most of us aren’t out to beat anyone but ourselves, so take time to enjoy the “getting there” and celebrate your successes without comparing them to others. Charm City Run offers a great community, with free group runs at every location and training groups with expert coaches for runners at all levels. I think at one point three years ago I went to three weddings in one month where I sat at tables with people who had all met each other through running at the store- it was awesome. Our Run Happy Revolution 5K groups start throughout the year to target a variety of local races – joining is a great way to give yourself access to a plan, accountability, and some camaraderie. If we see you there or not, stop in a store anytime for new-to-running advice, we would love to help you get started.
About The Author: Deirdre Weadock
A Baltimore native and graduate of NDP and University of Maryland in College Park, Deirdre bought her first pair of shoes from Charm City Run while home visiting Baltimore from her job training dolphins in the Florida Keys. She became a part-time employee and full-time member of the Charm City Run family soon after when she stopped in to replace her shoes. Deirdre was thrilled to help Charm City Run expand to the downtown location as the store manager and coach of Charm City Run full and middle distance training groups. Over the years of involvement she has been committed to the Charm City Run energy and passion for the running community and she is a well-known face at local events. She loves the downtown fitness community and you can often find her checking out any new local studio or gym, but her favorite spot will always be a run along the Inner Harbor Promenade.