The Connection Runners + [why run?]

So You Want to Start Running?

Although I've had long standing, somewhat tumultuous relationship with running, I don't consider myself an expert runner.

Whether fast or slow, racing or not, running's just something I've always sort of done.

The premise of the sport is fairly simple, right? Throw on some comfy clothes and athletic shoes and head out the door. Boom. Running.

While it really can be that simple, I have, from time to rare time, gotten questions from friends and family wanting to know what to do when it comes to running.

Here are my own personal tips for the beginning runner:

1. Learn about and invest in a quality pair of running shoes.

While some people might be running in New Balanaces from 1972 (mainly that old guy in American flag shorts next to you on the half mary course), running in shoes that fit your foot and your gait properly can keep injuries at bay and keep you out on the road longer.

Head to a local running specialty shop to be fitted for shoes. Try on several pairs and brands to see what feels best. Some stores even allow you to try them out indoors or on a treadmill; if they don't work, you can return or exchange them.

A good pair of sneaks may run you $80 and up, but your feet will thank you.

Further Reading: How to Buy the Right Running Shoe (via Runner's World)

2. Pick up some running/fitness apparel.

I used to rock 100% cotton shorts and tanks for my runs back in college. While cotton is cheap and definitely comfortable, it doesn't do a great job of wicking away sweat.

Instead, search for threads made from materials like polyester or wool which will help move sweat away from your skin and keep you somewhat more comfortable on the run.

Fit is also important: try on clothes before you buy. If you're like me, you can do some nerdy running in place in the dressing room or bust out a few squats to check for shorts that are too tight. Ick.

Further Reading: Finding Running Clothes on the Cheap (via ME!)
What to Wear While Running (via Twenty-Six and Then Some)

3. Hook up with local run groups or find a running buddy.

While I usually run solo, having a good quality running date once in a while is awesome. It keeps me accountable on days I'd rather be sitting on the couch, and it's a good way to meet other runners and chat away the miles.

Megan and I met through our blogs and Daily Mile, and we were nervous about meeting each other as total strangers. Now, months later, we realize that the other is totally NOT a psycho stalker, and we're still logging miles together once a week or so.

Further Reading: Find a Local Running Club (via Road Runner's Club of America)
Cool Running's Local Club Finder

4. Sign up for a race.

I know. I sound nuts. A race? Already?

Yep. Having a goal on the horizon is a great motivator to get out and log some miles. Starting out with something small, even - a local 5k - allows you to test your abilities, share in the running camaraderie, and feel the pure joy of crossing a finish line.

My first-ever event was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k in 2003, which benefits breast cancer research. It was exciting to be there as a runner, but then I saw all of the cancer patients, survivors, and those running in memory of cancer victims, and I was even more inspired.

Further Reading: Local Running Event Search (via Active.com)
Training Guides (via Active.com)

5. Open your front door. Run.

Gear, races, and training aside, running really is all about just getting out there. You can do it anywhere, anytime, with anyone who will suck it up and run with you.

And let me stress this, if nothing else: It all counts.

Whether you start off with a jog around the block, a loop in a local park, or a jaunt through city streets, it's all running. One mile, 42 feet, a marathon. It's all just one foot in front of the other.

Your Turn: What are your favorite tips for new runners? What have you learned about running that you'd love to share with others?