1) Run outside. I cannot emphasize this one enough. You truly get a better workout running outside than you do on the treadmill. Plus, perceived effort on the treadmill is so much more than what it is outside. I ALWAYS feel better, faster, & stronger when I get outside. If “but the weather..” is your first excuse for not getting outside to run, let me just say this: if you’re always waiting for the perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done, especially if you’re a midwest person like me.
Winter running can be intimidating, but bundle up. Invest in some quality, moisture-wicking, warm, running gear (Lululemon and Nike are my favorites and they last for years). During the winter, when you’re usually cooped up indoors, burning off steam in crisp winter air is not only refreshing, it’s the perfect combination of endorphins and vitamin D to help to battle SAD (seasonal affective disorder, aka the winter blues). If you have to be on the treadmill, run at a 2% incline to make it more similar to outside running conditions.
2) Have a plan. Starting anything without some sort of structure, outline, benchmarks, or goal in mind is likely something that will never get done, especially when it’s something you’re unfamiliar with or don’t particularly enjoy (yet!). I highly recommend registering for race or at least downloading a weekly training plan. The training plan will help you get into a routine that works for you – it will have you running at a level that pushes you just the right amount -with professionally written workouts. Google 5k, 10k, or half marathon training plans, even if you don’t plan to participate in one, just to have something to go off of. Runner’s World is my go-to resource for these!
3) Get a watch. I love my Apple watch and the Nike Running Club app. By itself, my watch can keep track of distance, pace, splits, calories, steps, etc. It’s so nice to not feel tied to the same route because it’s the only 3 mile loop you know. Having GPS allows for so much freedom and makes running outside even better. Plus, it’s super valuable to be able to refer back to the data it stores and see how your overall times, average pace, and splits improve the more you run. It also helps keep you on track when you’re trying to run at a certain speed The Nike Running Club app is also amazing, not only does it sync up with my watch well, I can use it by itself too if I’m running with just my phone. In addition to GPS capabilities, the Nike Running Club App has a variety or running workouts you can choose from, and your very own personal trainer will keep you motivated through your earbuds the whole time!
4) Lift weights. This is may be the most valuable secret to becoming a runner. It’s a common misconception that lifting weights is counterintuitive to running. This is not true if it’s done the right way. A running-geared lifting routine is typically made up of exercises that require more reps and less weight to build lean muscle and prevent running-induced injuries. A body with stronger muscles runs with better form and therefore uses less energy – it makes running easier and not as taxing on your body! Stronger legs allow you to run further. Stronger abs keep you balanced and running tall. Stronger arms pump you across the finish line quicker.
5) Find a Community. This is something I wish I had more of and is what I miss most about running on a team. Having a community to run with (even just one person!) keeps you accountable and motivated. You challenge and motivate each other. You make each other better and help one another reach your full potential. Another plus? Run countless hours and miles with the same people and you inevitably make a few lifelong friends.