Running into the New Year

Ten tips to start running…and actually enjoy it

When was the last time you ran? If it was when you were forced to do the mile back in high school, running might have left a bad taste in your mouth. All exercise, but specifically running, has a number of benefits, including better sleep, improved mental health, and the reassurance that you could outrun a zombie in an apocalypse. Here are 10 strategies to help you start running and—hopefully—enjoy it.

Image courtesy Pexels / rfstudio

Start Out Slow
It’s easy to picture yourself sprinting effortlessly down the sidewalk or an East Maui trail, but chances are, you won’t be able to hold this pace for more than a minute or two. Instead, try out a “conversational” pace, or a pace that is slow enough that you can comfortably hold a conversation with a friend without getting too out of breath. This might be slower than you think. But, with time, faster paces will feel more comfortable. 

Take Breaks
When you’re first starting out, it might not take long for you to get tired while out on your run. The best way to improve your endurance is by increasing time on your feet. Alternate one minute of running and one minute of walking. The idea is that if you can only run for five minutes, by adding the walking, you’ve doubled the time on your feet. The combined movement will improve your endurance. Eventually, you can transition to two minutes of running and one of walking, and keep increasing your running intervals until you don’t need walk breaks at all. 

Focus on Consistency, Not Quality
Sometimes the hardest part can be getting out the door. Instead of worrying about the distance or speed of your run, decide on the length of time you want to hit and go from there. Telling yourself, you’re only going to run for 10 minutes can help alleviate the stress of other metrics. A short run is better than no run at all, and the more you run, the better you’ll feel.

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Get Fitted for Running Shoes
Well-fitted running shoes can change the game. If you have the means, going to a local running store and getting fitted for shoes will help immensely. Having a shoe that properly supports your feet will prevent injuries and help you run further and faster. 

Change Up Your Scenery
If you tend to take your runs to the treadmill or do laps around a local track, running might get boring after a few weeks. Exploring different parts of the island and getting into nature keeps things interesting. Enjoy Maui’s beautiful scenery. Run on the beach. The varied terrain will challenge you in new ways. 

Incorporate Speedwork
Once you’ve established a base running fitness, adding speedwork can improve your performance. To start, throw in a few strides at the end of a regular run. Strides can be anywhere from 10-30 seconds of a burst in speed where you focus on your form and lengthen your stride. 

Join a Group
Friends make everything better; reach out to a local group such as the Maui Running Club. If running groups aren’t for you, consider asking a friend to run with you, bike next to you, or talk on the phone during your next run. 

Curate the Perfect Playlist
Music can enhance your runs and keep things interesting. Try making a playlist for the length of your run. Fill it with your favorites or new songs you haven’t heard yet. Podcasts are also a great option for a more conversational feel to your run.

Image courtesy Pexels / Maarten Van Den Heuvel

Create a Goal
Nothing is more motivating than knowing you have an event that you’re working towards. It doesn’t have to be a big, conventional goal like a 5k or a marathon. It could be something as small as wanting to be able to make it up the hill in your neighborhood without stopping to walk or getting in good enough shape to complete a hike. Whatever it is, use it to help inspire you to keep you going when things get tough.

Keep It Fun
Running is supposed to be enjoyable (if not in the moment, at least when it’s done). Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone faster than you. Remember why you started, and remember that you are the only person you have to worry about. Take time to reflect on where you started and recognize your progress. At the end of the day, nobody really cares how fast or far you can run, so don’t let fear of judgment from others hold you back.  

Lauren Wigod