Getting back into running isn’t easy – and I know, because I am doing it. I haven’t decided whether to sign up for a race, yet, but I am taking a slow approach to doing treadmill running and increasing my time/miles. Here’s are some helpful tips if you, too, want to get back into running – how to get motivated, how to improve quickly (including apps).
Tip #1: Take it slow
Start by walking, like I have been for the past several months. This will both help get you used to a longer workout, and build you up from a cardiovascular fitness standpoint. I would recommend walking over another form of cardio like the elliptical, because you can’t really replicate the impact of the foot strike. The other machine, if you have access to it, that can help is the stair master (not the min-stepper). Build up to increasing your walking pace to over 4.0 where you can walk and talk at somewhat of a comfortable place. At my start, 3.7 seemed like a lot, now I can be comfortable for over 30-45 minutes at 4.2.
Tip #2: Get the right gear
Get the right running gear! Now, luckily the weather is getting warmer so you need less layers. Invest in the gear so that you stay accountable – shorts, leggings, tanks, long sleeves, and shells. Both Nike and Lululemon have great clothes especially designed for running. This takes me to shoes. I personally am a Nike Fan, but Brooks and Asics are good choices, especially if you need more support.
Tip#3: Find a time to run
Now this can be challenging. You have to be absent from your life for an hour, possibly a distance from your house. The key here is to plan. My friend who has two small kids under 5 goes on a long run every Saturday, and she arranges for either her husband or neighbor to watch the kids by doing alternating playdates. From 7-9 in the morning is her time, and it’s on the calendar. Other people find it’s easier to plan a run around lunchtime when most people don’t schedule calls, or early in the morning before the day gets going. Whatever you do, find a block of an hour and a half of time to include getting ready for the run, the actual running, and showering.
Life doesn’t always go perfectly. If you happen to find that you are short on time for a shower, try one of the bathing wipes recommended in this article. Dry shampoo is also an excellent tool. My preferred brand is by Moroccanoil. It has dark and light tones built in so you don’t get the yucky white residue.
Tip#4 Be a fireman (or woman)
I prefer running in the morning, because you can just get up out of bed and go. This is as Mark Twain says is “swallowing the frog” – i.e, doing the hardest thing that you have to do in the morning. What I do is lay my clothes out like a fireman next to my bed from hat to shoes. I make sure my airpods are charged, my playlist is queued up, and that I have my running belt/phone holder/water bottle as well.
Tip #5: Make it public
Like I am doing now….announce it to friends, your social media, your significant other, the Amazon delivery guy that you are back into running. It makes you accountable and can get you running buddies. You can also join a local running group, which is definitely social-distance friendly. You can go to the RRCA website to find a local club near you.
Joining a race, like a 5k or 10k to start, is also a good idea. I will keep you posted on what race I join and progress in an upcoming post.
The Best Apps for Runners: Nike and Strava
In my Fitness App decision tree, I went through a myriad of apps that were multipurpose. Many of these apps also have outdoor running guidance, but ideally you would want to use a dedicated running app. The two most popular among runners are the Nike and Strava app – I will compare them very quickly.
Nike Running App
Nike Run Club, which is marketed as your “Perfect Running Partner,” is best for old school runners who like to lace up and go out, even in 25 degree weather. Specialization in apps like running and yoga really allows the developers to cater to people who have centered their workouts around these activities for years.
The Nike Run Club app is an ideal alternative from other apps that have guided running. With this one, you can run without a whole lot of chirping in your ear. Some people get bored running and need that, but for some people running is an escape from all the noise in life. They don’t want more noise.
You can use Nike Run Club to listen to your own music or even silence. It is also great for beginners who are inspired to return to or try running for the first time. You can customize your run based on distance, duration, speed, or just freestyle. The app has a “smart train” feature if you want to prepare for a race, which asks you a lot of questions (like your goal and how many times a week you can run) and customizes a training plan for races according to distance and the time you have to train..
Users give positive feedback on the audio guided runs with Coach Chris Benett. The app also has a feature to discover popular running routes when you are in an unfamiliar place. Unlike some of the other multipurpose apps that have running programs, you are in control of the music on Nike. You can synch it to your Apple or Spotify playlists. There is also a “cheer” feature you can synch with Facebook so friends can “see” you run and their likes are converted to audio encouragement.
Strava Run app
The Strava app is known as “the social network for athletes,” Like the Nike app, it takes data from your smart watch, phone, personal GPS unit, fitness tracker and other devices and puts it into your “Strava feed.” You can share photos, keep up with friends’ activities, compete and cheer each other on. Like the Nike app, you can use Strava discover new trails. This can be customized for more remote trails or more populated areas for safety reasons (super important for women). You can also access routes that others have created using the app and shared with the community.
And, Strava is also good for cyclists, not just runners.
Which to choose: If you into running more for the social aspect, and are a “running club” type of person, Strava is a better choice. If design and a focus on training is more important to you, Nike+ run club is a better bet.
Also consider: Map My run by Under Armour