It may surprise you, but it’s hard for me to offer a meaningful answer to this question. I grew up in a family of sports enthusiasts and – already as kids – we were encouraged to do sports and our parents might have even been a bit hard on us about it. They both did a lot of sports and when my brother and I were old enough to ride a bike or do cross-country skiing, they’d take as anywhere they went. I was younger and not as skilful as my brother, plus I often got really frustrated, so they’d continue and leave me behind to vent my anger. Sometimes (but not always) one of them would come back to see if I was still moving forward without doing anything stupid. I’d be crying, but I’d continue anyway.
As kids, we did a lot of hiking but no running
Our family had a car, but we’d always walk to visit our grandmas who lived 20 kilometres from us. We’d set out in the afternoon and return when it was already dark. My brother and I did some physical activity every single day. We’d ride our bikes or walk to our after-school activities and keep our bus money as our pocket money.
When I ran my first race – a cross-country race – I may have been ten years old. My parents gave me my first “sports” shoes that I’d wear for any activity – riding my bike, running, physical education at school as well as hiking. Back then, we didn’t really overthink things. And these shoes I’d wear to win races, without any training, even though today I wouldn’t even wear them for digging in the garden. Even though I was a plump little boy, all those thin athletic skiers couldn’t beat me.
My brother and I were pretty talented, so it’s quite hard for me to give advice. For me, running is no rocket science, but lots of things may seem unclear to people who don’t come from a family of athletes. Therefore, let me just highlight several things that I consider important.
To be motivated. That’s what I think is the most crucial precondition to start and keep running. To have something which drives you outside in any weather, even when it’s unpleasant and painful, but what eventually makes you feel good. Each unpleasant run will bring you a bit closer to your goal. And your goal can be literally anything at least somewhat realistic. And when you get closer to your vision, get tougher on yourself. At the beginning, I was motivated probably by the same thing like a lot of you. It may come as a surprise now, but even I once wanted to lose some weight. I was the fattest member of the family and my relatives would tease me for my desire to eat. Now, I’m no longer fat and nobody laughs at me. With one goal achieved, I set another.
Slow and steady wins the race
Don’t try to achieve everything immediately. Set realistic goals, otherwise you’ll end up disappointed or injured. Start running when you enjoy it. Start to train and join races when you enjoy it. I did the very same thing. I don’t think it makes sense to start any systematic preparations, as you may well end up disgusted. Keep running and see what happens.
Running technique? You can worry about that later
There are lots of instructions on how to run or how not to. And each such article is incredibly scientific and urges you to land on the middle of your sole, on the tip, on the outer edge, and so on. I don’t think it’s so difficult, though. Plus your running technique will adjust as your speed increases and you start running farther. Your body will adjust. Your muscles and circulatory system will get used to the strain, you’ll get faster, and gradually switch to landing on the tip of your feet. In fact, you can’t really run fast any other way.
Get some proper running equipment
Shoes, mainly. Those things that sports chain stores often sell as running shoes aren’t actually too suitable for running, and various fitness and sports shoes aren’t suitable for running either. If you can’t decide which shoes to buy, ask for help in a shop specialized in running. I guess that’s the only thing worth spending time on at the very beginning. You can find such a shop with a wide range of products and qualified crew at Top4Running in Náplavní, Prague. Why not begin there?
Do some exercise!
There’s a good reason to claim that the same amount of time you spend running should be spent on exercise. The Internet is full of information on stretching and exercise. Focus on the core of your body as well as on relaxing the muscles in your lumbar region and pelvis, as this is the area which absorbs a lot of impact during runs. Try to feel what hurts and where the pain comes from and focus on relaxing the muscles in that particular area. Once in a while, check the outsoles of your shoes, as they can tell you something about how you run, which parts of your body you try to relieve and which are overloaded. I definitely recommend getting regular appointments with a skilful physiotherapist, ideally as a preventive measure before something starts to hurt.
Don’t push too hard!
This piece of advice is partially covered by the one urging you to gradually add more kilometres. I don’t want to deal with overtraining or injuries now, though. Running is just your hobby and a fun after-work activity. You don’t have to turn your life upside down, forget all about your friends and everything you’ve liked so far. No, not everybody is interested in running, and when – after several months – you find some time to meet up with your old friends and you only keep talking about your running, they may not like it too much. I know a lot of people who keep jabbering non-stop about running. About how many kilometres and when they ran, how fast, what their heart rate was, how many calories they burned and where they feel pain… You run because you want to and not to have something to tell your friends about; they may not run or may not even be interested in it. Running is your way to forget about your problems and relax. Keep it to yourself then. For me, my training session ends with the last stretch and I’m not interested in it anymore. And I think this is how it should be.
Having read this far, you may be disappointed, as you expected this Vítek guy to give you some better advice on training and how to improve. Well, I don’t really think there’s too much one should necessarily know at the very beginning. It’s completely up to you, your attitude, and your determination, so get out there and go for it. After some time, it possible that you won’t even be able to imagine your life without running.
Being a Top4Running Club member pays off
You are always going to be faster with us. Join our loyalty program and get lots of great benefits.