No one is born a runner.
Every human is gifted with the ability to move, but no child comes sprinting out of the womb.
Fine, maybe Usain Bolt. End of list.
Without fail, every time I post an article about running or put up an Instagram story, I’ll get a DM asking about how I became a runner.
I wrote an article about that journey – mostly to stop having to answer the question every time.
Those direct message conversations usually wind down with the person explaining they’re “just not a runner.”
Again, runners aren’t born – a topic we bring up often on our podcast dedicated to the running lifestyle – and most likely, the problem isn’t with their legs or lungs.
The problem is between their ears.
So, you’re not a runner? When did you decide this to be a fact?
When you couldn’t run a mile in gym class, over a decade ago?
That time you tried to run a few miles in college and ended up walking home?
The one morning you went for a jog on vacation?
How long have you been hanging onto the story that you’re “not a runner?”
If you put on sneakers, go outside every day for two months, and can’t finish a mile without almost vomiting and spend the rest of the day in physical pain, fine, you’re not a runner.
Everyone else is selling themselves on a line of bullshit.
I’m not a coach, professional athlete, or a certified trainer, so this article isn’t about how to be a better runner or the physical act of running.
This article focuses on breaking the mental hurdle of “not being a runner.”
Can you move both legs rapidly? Congratulations, you’re a runner. That’s the hard part.
Here are the next steps to becoming a runner.
Running tip #1- Stay the hell off tracks or treadmills
Running in circles sucks. There’s no quicker way to feel like a hamster or an 8-bit video game character.
Tracks are for running competitions and people with bad knees.
Tracks seem like a day at the spa compared to treadmills.
I hate treadmills. I especially hate treadmills for people attempting to make running a part of their daily routine.
Avoid tracks and treadmills, and find open spaces.
Personally, I like TrailLink. Users can search for running trails in their area, and the website will highlight the type of path (concrete, asphalt, dirt, etc.) and length of the trail.
For beginners, stick to asphalt, concrete, and dirt. Trail running is fun, but you’ve got to crawl before you walk.
Running tip #2 – No music (For Now)
“But, I need music to run!!”
Actually, you don’t need music to run. Name the last Olympic sprinter who competed with earbuds in.
Music screws with your pace in different ways.
Some songs will make you run faster, exhausting you quicker.
Some will subliminally cause you to run slower.
Songs you’ve heard a million times will make the mind wander to other topics like “why the hell am I running?!? I hate doing this!”
You don’t need music, you need a mental distraction from the fact you’re not yet fond about the act of running.
On your runs, listen to new podcasts. Try learning a language. Call friends who don’t mind hearing you breathe heavy and curse at cars driving a little too close to the shoulder of the road.
Find mental distractions that don’t include your music library that hasn’t been updated since the days of Napster.
Running tip #3 – Buy new gear
Think about the last important social event you attended. You probably bought a new outfit.
You thought about that outfit every damn day until the big reveal.
In fact, wearing the new outfit was probably the only exciting thing about going to the reunion, work function, or first date.
New running gear will get you excited to run.
Today I bought a pair of running shorts from JCPenney. The cashier wanted to make sure I realized they’re $35 and not on sale.
I said “yes, I know.”
I guess associates aren’t accustomed to ballers like myself shopping full price.
— Chris Illuminati (@chrisilluminati) July 5, 2020
Now, I’m not suggesting dropping hundreds of dollars on sneakers, headlamps, camel packs, and high-performance outerwear.
A new pair of sneakers, comfortable running shorts or pants, and a versatile jacket is all a beginning runner needs.
Opt for gear that works well in all elements.
Running tip #4 – Stop waiting for the perfect day
Unless your zip code is California or you reside in an area with fantastic weather all year long, you’re going to have to run in the rain and cold.
Toughen up, buttercup. I did.
Running tip #5 – Don’t let numbers be your enemy
Another common gripe from first-time runners is usually along the lines of, “I was so slow,” or “It took forever to run a mile.”
At some point way down the road – metaphorically speaking – numbers will be of some importance. Right now, they don’t mean shit.
Mile times don’t matter. Focus on setting a specific distance and running that distance.
“Today, I don’t care how long it takes, I’m going to run 3 miles.”
Running tip #6 – Find your motivation
Find the true reason for putting in miles.
Use this reason for starting a running routine as fuel to get your ass outside (or on a treadmill if you absolutely must).
Running partners are an excellent motivator to get your ass moving. Join a few beginner running groups on Facebook, follow motivational people on social media, hang out where runners hang out. (Hint – Usually near trails.)
Eventually, the urge to run will come from many different places.
One of my constant motivators is seeing other people run when I’m driving around. I can’t count the number of times I’ve passed a runner in my car and thought, “lucky bastard.”
Even on days that I’ve already gone for a run!
Yup. Runners are a sick bunch. You’ll see.
Love running and fitness? Check out our podcast “We Run This” where we talk about running and the running lifestyle made for athletes of all fitness levels.