By Amanda C. (Contributor)
Edited by Ali Reza
Some people are natural athletes who are drawn to running and sports. Other people learn to love these activities because of the way it makes them feel. Running is a great way to work both your body and your mind. It doesn’t have to be a task that you dread – it can be a fun and relaxing way to stay in shape, clear your mind, and boost your confidence. One of the perks of running is that you are in control; you can go at your own pace and set your own goals.
Start off slowly. During your first run, you may not be able to make it more than a few minutes but that is okay. Your body needs time to adjust and build up endurance. Setting your sights on three miles the first time can leave you feeling defeated when you fall short of this unrealistic goal. Take into consideration your current level of physical activity and what is realistic. Take some time to get your muscles used to running. Start off running shorter distances and alternating with walking. Soon you will see that you can go for longer distances with more ease.
Set short- and long-term goals. Maybe today your goal is to run one block further than you did yesterday. By the end of the week you may want to do a mile. Then maybe a mile in a certain amount of time. Strive to beat your best times and push your distance even further. The only person you are really competing with is yourself. Set goals that you want to achieve, not goals that you think would please others. Track your runs so that you can see your progress.
Another way to stay motivated is to find races to participate in. Start off with a 5k and focus on preparing yourself. Enjoy the invigorating feeling of crossing that finish line and knowing you met your goal. Sign up for other races and set your sights higher. It can be very empowering and satisfying to reach various milestones you have set and realize that you are accomplishing what you have set your mind to.
Make it fun. Running doesn’t have to be boring. Create a playlist of your favorite upbeat songs to stay energized. Choose a path that gives you plenty of things to look at and enjoy the time to yourself. Many people use running as a way to clear their mind, reduce stress, and stay fit. If you enjoy company, call up a friend and have a running buddy to help you stay accountable and on track. You can motivate each other to reach that next goal.
A great thing about running is that you can do it almost anywhere, anytime. Lace up your sneakers and head out. Make running something that you do for yourself. As you start checking goals off of your list, it can inspire you and boost your self-esteem. In time you will begin to see results as your body becomes stronger and leaner, your endurance increases, and you’re running like you never thought you could. Start by taking those first few steps today and before you know it, you’ll be crossing the finish line.