Tips for the Beginning Runner

As a young adult who’s recently become more health-conscious, I’ve found myself at a crossroads. The transition from pizza gorging and constantly eating out to becoming more aware of the foods I decide to put in my body has caused me to reconsider my couch potato tendencies.

While I was relatively active growing up, the past few years in college have left me with an attitude that shies away from exercise and instead clings to Netflix. I felt it was time for a change: I wanted to run my first 5K.

Working from couch up, I knew this new exercise adventure of mine was going to bring on plenty of challenges. The first step was to find a buddy—a source of encouragement and someone to keep me motivated and accounted for throughout my 5K training. My willing and excited roommate did the trick, and thus began the start to our summer of running.

It isn’t easy trying to create a routine nor is it easy to find the energy to tie on your tennis shoes and head out the door, but there have been a few things that have helped along the way.

Programs like Couch-to-5K by Cool Running help create a workout plan for running newcomers. The program is a calendar of workouts over the course of nine weeks that map out exercises for 30 minutes, three days a week. Targeted towards people who have never exercised before, a literal couch-up plan, the pacing is slow and builds over time, giving beginners an easy way to get into things.

As someone who isn’t completely foreign to a little sweat and sore muscles—just on a three-year hiatus—I modified the plan a little bit with the help of a frequent-runner friend of mine. I would be tracking my distance, slowly increasing the miles until I reached 3.1, the total distance of a 5K, just before my race date.

Another thing that helps is the location of the run. Jogging around a track or trying to build up miles on a treadmill can help get your workout in, but it feels monotonous and annoying. Instead, opt for a scenic run; my choice is by the river.

I live close to the Stone Arch Bridge, and running through Father Hennepin Bluffs Park, across the bridge and over the Mississippi gives me a gorgeous view, a cool breeze off the water and a boost of energy to keep me going. Finding a local park or trail in your neighborhood shouldn’t be all too hard either, and the benefits of a beautiful view are so worth it for your workout.

For even more inspiration, having a running playlist helps to keep energy up, too. Upbeat music with fast tempos and a motivational message gives that extra push when you start to feel yourself slow down or you’re thinking about giving up.

If you don’t want to create your own playlist, apps like Tempo Run and RockMyRun, among others, create a running playlist for you to help give you the best workout and keep up your energy.

I will admit, it has been a little tough to stick to the plan. I sometimes catch myself pushing back running days or convincing myself I’m too tired to get on my feet. But I don’t want to give up, not with my goal in mind.

With my race coming up in July—my roommate and I decided to try the Color Run on July 12—I am determined to finish these next few weeks of training. Hopefully this running adventure will help kick-start a personal exercise revolution and will help me kiss the couch potato days goodbye.