We’ve all been there – that point in your day where you present yourself with the choice to get up and out for some exercise, or bury your bum into the couch to continue your latest binge-watching obsession. Those first steps can be the most difficult, but once you commit, your body and mind will thank you for it!
A great way to help push yourself off the couch and into your running shoes is to sign up for a race. Regardless of age, size, body type, or any other variable we all may have used as an excuse in the past, running (or walking, or jogging) a race is something any able-bodied person can do (more: see ‘How to Run Your First 5K’). From improved physical fitness and mental health to getting some vitamin D and fresh air outdoors, take advantage of the insane benefits that come with the running territory, no matter what level a runner you are.
Setting a goal with a deadline can be helpful to keep you motivated. Maybe you want to enjoy more of the outdoors and try something new to get in shape. Perhaps you’re pumped to start training for your first race. Whatever your individual purpose may be, have a clearly defined goal in mind to help keep you on track for accomplishing what you set out to do. For example, a goal could be to have 10 miles under your belt by your fourth week of training, or being able to run 15 minutes straight by week 8.
Getting motivated enough to take those first few strides is often the hardest part for us self-proclaimed “non-runners”. Once you’re up and moving, that initial sense of accomplishment makes it easier to keep going. There are plenty of different things you can try to boost your level of motivation; the key is to find what works best for your unique self.
Having a running buddy might jolt your motivation, or maybe you’d prefer runs to be your “alone time” to decompress. You might want to map out an exact route or let the road take you where it will. Podcasts may be your go-to for runs instead of upbeat jams, or perhaps you’ll find skipping audio altogether suits you best. Trial and error will be key here, so take the time to find what sets you up for success.
There are oodles of running resources out there for every level of runner, including those new to the activity and eager to learn the basics. From getting your technique down and improving your breathing to meal planning and helpful training apps, there is a sea of running assets geared toward beginners for you to take advantage of.
Be sure to keep your overall goals in the forefront of your mind when doing your research. The vast amount of tips and tricks out there can be overwhelming, so having your main objectives clearly outlined will help you stay focused on finding tools that will help you accomplish your specific goals.
An excellent way to keep yourself driven and motivated until you cross that sweet finish line is to have a support system in place. When you begin training, keep those close to you in the loop on how you’re progressing, and let them know you will need their encouragement throughout the process. Sign up for your local programs, like Red River Runners, for group runs that will help you keep yourself accountable and introduce you to a team of fellow runners rooting for you.
Come race day, it can also be a huge moral boost to have loved ones cheering you on throughout the course. If your support system is new to the running culture, share these tips for race day cheering to help get them started. Plan to go solo to the event? Not to worry! One of the most empowering aspects of a racecourse is the crowd of strangers yelling for you every step of the way – it’s an exhilarating feeling that keeps you going the distance.
Perhaps the most important ingredient to remember is to show yourself some much-needed love and appreciation. Be patient, and have a healthy sense of humor at the beginning of your running journey. After all, this is ultimately about improving yourself, which takes time and practice.
We sometimes get busy with our daily lives and forget to put ourselves first. Taking time out of your day to better yourself is no easy feat, and that deserves to be recognized and celebrated. Be mindful of your accomplishments and take a moment to thank your body for its hard work – and thank yourself for showing up. When you cross that finish line, it will all be well worth it.
Pumped to get started? Check out the Grand Forks Marathon coming up on September 23rd-24th and sign up for the race of your choosing. Whether you want to run solo in the Friday night 5K, tackle the full marathon, or get a group of up to 13 together for a relay team, you’re sure to find a race that will be the perfect push to help get you up and moving.