Everyone is innately a runner. When you were a child, you ran outside for hours playing, and even today, you probably run to catch a bus, run to your next meeting or to do the morning school shuffle with your kids.
Humans started to jog as far back as two million years ago, but the rise of marathon running for sport (rather than say, tracking down an antelope) is a newer phenomenon. The modern day marathon was revived in 1896 for the Summer Olympics in Athens, thus inspiring the first Boston Marathon in 1897. Read more about marathons you can participate in around the world here.
Today, there are hundreds of races to choose from. Distance running can mean as little as a few miles or as much as a 100 mile ultramarathon.
As a new distance runner, I conquered two primary obstacles to reach my goals: the psychological barrier, and the physical one. In a two-part series, we’ll explore tips and tricks to overcome these challenges so you can discover your inner strength and experience the pure joy of hitting the pavement.
Part One: Psych Yourself Up!
Ultimately, you’re the only one who can do up your laces and get moving, but there are many tricks and tools at your disposal to help put an extra kick in your step.
Run for a cause.
Choosing a cause to support through fundraising can often give runners the extra boost of motivation they need. Programs like the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation program can help both experienced and new runners achieve their personal race goals and change the course of cancer forever.
To make it even less intimidating for first time runners, DetermiNation is offering a virtual 5K race that can be done from (literally) anywhere. The DetermiNation Virtual 5k takes place on Sunday, June 5, 2016 on National Cancer Survivors Day. We spoke with DetermiNation community manager Samantha Kassel to learn more about the race.
“The virtual 5K can be done anywhere - even on your treadmill at home. One of our largest fundraisers was actually based in Nigeria. There is no minimum donation to sign up aside from a $25 registration fee, and because the race is virtual, overheads are low and almost every dollar raised goes toward the cause.”
What advice does Samantha have for first-time runners?
“If someone can fight cancer - every day - you can do the 5K. DetermiNation ensures you have a supportive team behind you to set you up for success.”
After June 5, new participants are also welcome to take part in a virtual 5K at the time of their choosing. To learn more or to donate to a runner, visit DetermiNation’s event site.
Select the right distance
If you’ve never jogged in your life and you sign yourself up for a full marathon in two months time, you are setting yourself up for failure. Events like the virtual 5K can be a great place to start. Once you have a few 5K runs under your belt, you can move onto greater distances.
The 10K mark is a big breakthrough moment for many runners. Once you begin to reach into 10k and beyond, a half marathon is not far off, at least mentally. As you gain more experience and confidence in your running, you will begin to look forward to the challenge that the extra distance can bring.
Music to your ears.
For many people, music is essential to keeping on track. In fact, one of the world's leading experts on the psychology of exercise music, Costas Karageorghis, wrote that music could even be considered "a type of legal performance-enhancing drug." He claims that running to music can enhance your performance by as much as 15%.
Consider a driving beat for the treadmill or sprinting, but a more melodic tune can help you lose yourself in the run. You’ll also want a sturdy pair of sweat-proof headphones. One of my favorite tricks is to save a new album I’ve been itching to listen to for a run. You’ll be shocked how many miles you can get under your belt before the album ends!
Identify if you are a solo or group runner.
If you’re a social animal, consider joining a running group in your community, whether it’s through a supportive group like DetermiNation or even many local Nike stores that offer free running groups and clinics. However, remember there is no shame if you prefer a solo running experience. For some, running is a meditative experience.
Are you training to run your first race this year? Tell us what motivates you in the comments below!