1. You try to run before you can walk

Years ago, I joined a running club that had a beginners’ group. I was just getting better from an illness that knocked me down for a long time and starting running was part of my recovery plan now that I had enough energy. I was unfit and felt lethargic. In the first session, we ran 5k, slowly, but we ran the whole way while the 50-something marathon running leader at times ran backwards in front us. It was torture. I went back once more.

You cannot go from no running to running a 5k nonstop. Even 3k or 1k is too much. It’s going to be very unpleasant and quite likely, it’ll lead to injuries. You need to walk first. Walk and run or, in many cases, just walk. I think in my case, having been seriously ill for quite some time, completely out of energy, it would’ve been smart to just start with 3 to 5 brisk walks per week for a month and then start with short running intervals.


2. You start too fast

Beginners tend to start too fast. It seems to be hard for many people to get that just because you’re not sprinting and getting terribly out of breath, you are still running. It is ok to run slowly. In fact, if you want to run for longer, you have to go slowly. Most importantly, you have to start slowly. For the first 10 minutes of your run your body is warming up. Warming up isn’t necessary just to warm you up but it also redirects your blood flow to the muscles you are using during exercise – this very important process takes time. If you try to push your body before it’s properly warmed up, of course it’s going to be hard and you’ll be sore afterwards.


3. You think it has to be hard

Most people think that running is hard, it’s supposed to be hard, otherwise it’s not running, right? This might be because you’ve tried running before and found it hard (because of points 1 and 2) or because when you think about running, you think about long distances, 10Ks and marathons and serious runners – that looks hard. It doesn’t have to be hard. You just have to find a level that’s right for you, that is doable for you. Start there and as your fitness improves, slowly start running more. This way, it’s easy, so start expecting it to be easy!


4. You keep your eye only on the prize

If you start running with the goal of running a 5K, for example, and this is all you focus on, it’s going to hard. It’ll be hard to keep motivated and particularly in the early weeks you’ll feel like you’ll never get there – it’s hard. This is one of the reasons why beginners’ give up as their motivation dies pretty soon with this approach. Try focusing on enjoying each run instead. Set learning to enjoy running as your first goal. There are plenty of tricks and techniques you can use to achieve this from the beginning. Know that with this approach, you will run that 5k in no time at all though it doesn’t matter that much because you enjoy running.


5. You start running for all the wrong reasons

Most women we see start running in order to lose weight. They want to lose weight so they can like themselves and their bodies better. In other words, they start running because they’re unhappy with themselves. You see running as something you have to suffer in order to improve yourself enough so you that can accept yourself. You’re motivated by self-hatred, or at least deep dissatisfaction with yourself or your body. That’s not going to be much fun. Try running because you love your body, not because you hate it. Exercise is good for your body, it’s a treat rather than a punishment. Your body deserves to be well looked after and there is no better way to keep your body healthy and strong than running.

Read more about how to set goals and learn to enjoy running

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