How to Start a Running Habit

I always want to make sure what I talk about on this blog is helpful for my readers, so I asked my Instagram followers if they wanted me to address anything specific. @bikelovemanila said he would like to see me talk about building a running habit, while @makilingmiracle said, “How to prep for a 3k run if I have never really run before? I just walk.”

I think that preparing for a 3k and building a running habit are pretty much two sides of the same coin. While one is more specific in that there is an event to prepare for, the other one is more about building a habit — but when you prepare for an event you’re actually going to build a habit. I think the approaches are pretty much similar.

Everybody starts from somewhere and for me I started running after I had already started doing other things for cardio. However, there are people who are literally starting from off the couch.

There are three myths about starting running that I keep encountering.

Myth #1: You have to run the whole way throughout your session.

Running builds on walking and simply walking actually builds your cardio base. So if you haven’t done anything at all for fitness then you have to start from the very basic which is walking. There is no shame in starting from walking. In fact, the beginner 5k program that I designed for MX Endurance starts off time-based and is comprised mostly of walking. As your fitness grows throughout the entire program then you can start adding in some running. Eventually you’ll run all the way completely through a training session. But first things first: you have to walk before you can run.

When you run, it’s a motion that really gives your body a beating because you’re basically taking on multiple times your weight every time your foot impacts the ground. If your body isn’t used to that then naturally you’re going to feel some pain and soreness.

Myth #2: Running = Sprinting.

Most people only have two gears when they take up running: they walk at their normal walking pace, and their run pace is a sprint. When it comes to endurance running (if you’re talking about 3ks and 5ks and 10ks those are endurance based forms of running) most of the training that you do is done at a jog pace where you can actually talk. This is the aerobic pace that builds your heart, lung, and leg strength.

Myth #3: Run sessions need to be long.

Most people starting out running don’t have the fitness to to go for 30 minutes in one go — and that’s fine! Start off with shorter segments: you can do as little as 15 minutes. Remember that you don’t have to run the whole way through; you can walk the entire thing. The key point is to build that cardio fitness and to build the strength in your body so that you can handle running when the time comes.

Now for some tips so you can build your running habit and get to running your first 3K!

Tip #1: Start short, then build to longer sessions. Run/walk intervals are useful. Keep it aerobic.

You can start as short as 15 minutes and just walk the entire way through. I think the adjustment period is about two to four weeks, and then you can start increasing the amount of time that you’re training so from 15 minutes you can go 20 minutes, then 25, then 30. You can build that through the weeks, and then you can try run/walk intervals.

Run/walk intervals: run for a short period of time and then walk for a short period of time. Rinse and repeat to complete the session time. These intervals in the beginning are really quite short, like run for 30 seconds / walk for a minute. As you get fitter you can increase the length of the run intervals. You can do that without decreasing the length of the walk intervals, or you can do it simultaneously — it really depends on how how fast you get fit. Eventually you can get around to running throughout the entire session in one go, but that really depends on building that fitness habitually.

Tip #2: Make time for your training.

You have to find time for your run throughout the week. I usually try to go for two to three runs at a minimum, just so that your body has the time and the stimulus to adapt and develop the kind of fitness that you need for running.

I know that @bikelovemanila is an avid cyclist, so the same way you make time in your week for your cycling adventures, make time in your week for running.

Tip #3: Download a run training app or get a training plan.

One quick and easy way of getting started is by downloading a training app, like Nike Run Club, adidas Runtastic, Under Armour MapMyRun, and the like. They do have fantastic beginner running programs that you can follow, and you don’t need a sports watch. All you need is your smartphone and and the app.

These apps tell you when you need to run and what kind of running or what kind of training you’re assigned for that particular session. It will measure your pace, but it won’t tell you to run at paces that you can’t.

So, how do you run a 3k if you’ve only just been walking? Build your fitness through walking and venture out into running as you get fitter. How do you build a running habit? Make time for it.

I’m really aware that there are some people for whom running never becomes their cup of tea, and that’s fine! There are so many different ways to get fit and stay fit and have fun while doing so, and I don’t expect everybody to love running as much as I do. But if you want to run, put it into your lifestyle. It becomes a habit and then eventually your body’s going to start looking for it.

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About Noelle De Guzman

Noelle De Guzman is a freelance writer and recreational athlete with over 12 years of experience in wellness and endurance sport. She believes sport and an active healthy lifestyle changes lives.

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