We had a great turnout at the first “Learn to Run” clinic—over 30 people attended the brown bag session held at the Department of Labor and Industry in St. Paul on Tuesday afternoon. The crowd was filled with people wanting to learn how to get started running–when asked who was planning to run their first 5K this September nearly everyone in the room raised their hand!
The clinic featured a panel-style format. Three members of the Run@Work Day Committee, including me, shared how we got into running, why we run (beyond a typical “because I’m being chased!” answer), and a few tips on how to get started as a new runner.
Get out the door
Up first was Ralph, who runs in order to keep up with the junior and high school ski athletes he coaches. He also runs to enjoy some “me time” which the rest of the panel (a group of introverts if you can believe it) nodded in agreement to. Ralph pointed out the multitude of physical and mental health benefits of running, which you can find a full list of in this handy Getting Started in Running handout he compiled. The handout also includes beginner training plans from Runner’s World, and points out some challenges you may face as a runner, but as Ralph emphasized, the hardest part is just getting out the door. So, make a deal with yourself that you will get out the door, and then enjoy your run!
Making a comeback
Our second panelist was Ashley, a runner who got her start by… quitting track. That’s right, after the first long run she never went back. After some time studying abroad she gave running another shot, in order to get back into shape. She borrowed an old pair of sneakers from a friend, and gradually (gradually is a note worth repeating) built up her endurance. After a year or so, she ran her first 10-mile race which made her realize, “Wow! I’m capable of more than I thought!” Ashley encouraged attendees to adjust their training plans for ‘real life’ and if you’re working up to a specific race, be sure to build in some extra time to accommodate busy schedules and unexpected injuries. Speaking of injuries, Ashley had major back surgery earlier this year and concluded that it’s really easy to take your physical good health for granted. Fortunately, she made a comeback to running, and happily follows no set running routine, just gets out the door and runs, often.
Get to your local running shop
As the third and final speaker, I revealed my not-so-secret weekend identity—a shoe-fitting expert at a local running store. Every shift I help out customers that started out in a less than ideal sneaker (cross trainer, old shoes, ill-fitting shoes, etc.) and are seeking relief in the form of a good made-for-running shoe. It is certainly not a deal breaker to not stop into your local running shop, but seeking the advice of a knowledgeable sales associate and walking (or running!) out in a pair of new running shoes can make a big difference in this high impact sport. Aside from my obvious tip (read: go shopping), what can you do today to get started running? Stand up! You’ve probably heard that ‘sitting is killing you,’ but sensational headlines aside, it is DEFINITELY to your benefit to stand up and walk around throughout the work day. In doing so, your muscles will be ready to go for your workout later in the day. Movement throughout the day, combined with a good walking warmup and a few dynamic stretches before you run, should make the workout more enjoyable. Another thing you can do right now is set your short term goal (e.g. run or run/walk twice a week) and long term goal (e.g. finish the 7th Annual Minnesota State Capitol Run@Work Day 5K Run/Walk hint hint). I offer up a few more tips in this Getting Started Tip Sheet. Just remember, running is something you get to do!
Everyone on the panel agreed… any amount of time and distance run (and walked) makes YOU a runner. A great first step was attending this clinic (or reading this rather lengthy recap). We encourage you to listen to your body when it comes to working out (and of course to check with your physician) and do not feel like you need to sprint a marathon today. Right now, find yourself a training plan to adjust for your current fitness level and just get started, gradually.
I’ll address several of the more specific questions in future posts–stay tuned!