When people talk about starting to run, it’s important to remember that running is a different journey for every single person. What comes naturally for one person can be significantly more difficult for another. So, before you read any further, acknowledge that this is your running journey, not anybody else’s. Own your run, and if a particular piece of advice doesn’t resonate with you – acknowledge it and move on. Fact is; in order to run, you only need two feet and a heartbeat. There are a hundred other things that can be added into that equation, and we’re going to tackle a few of them, but know that if you can walk, you can run. If you can run, you’re a runner.

I struggle with providing advice when asked how to get started with running, because to me, there isn’t a right or a wrong way to begin. If one foot is moving in front of the other, you’re on the right track. So, in an effort to make sure I was compiling comprehensive and runner- tested tips, I turned to Instagram for help: I created a poll asking my running friends what advice they would provide to a beginner, and they didn’t disappoint. The following tips represent the best and most helpful results of our brainstorming. This is not a how-to guide on beginning to run, just a few tried, tested and true pieces of advice from about 100 people on Instagram:

1) Take walk breaks! Not only are they allowed, they’re important. Ten people will give you ten different pieces of advice when asked how to start running, but the consistent theme is that you should be patient, start slow, and build from there. For your first few runs, it’s okay to keep them short – even if they’re 10 minutes long. Nobody is judging you for walking, and nobody is handing out medals when you get home.

2) Don’t over think it! This is supposed to be fun! There is no ‘right way to run’ when you’re starting out, so don’t think about how your feet are hitting the ground quite yet, just think about forward motion. You can refine later. Focus on the parts you can enjoy. Do you like running downtown? In the river valley? With music, or with the sounds of the river or city around you? You get to shape your route, have fun with it!

3) Gear up! Invest in a good pair of running shoes and know that ‘good’ doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. Visit a shop like the Tech Shop or Running Room and talk to a sales associate who will get you into the perfect shoes for you – for your feet and for your stride. Find clothes to run in that are breathable and light, and dress for 10 degrees warmer than the current temperature. Light layers are always a good bet, as you can adjust as needed.

4) Find a buddy or join a run club! Accountability makes all the difference and running with people you enjoy makes the run more fun. There are a ton of awesome running and fitness groups in Edmonton that have run leads for all paces and are happy to help support you in your run goals! Run Collective, November Project, RunWest, and the Running Room are all great places to start – and it’s never too early to start. The amount of times I’ve heard someone say that they’re waiting until they’re more fit to join a group is staggering – nobody cares if you’re red or if you’re breathing heavily, we’re all just happy you showed up.

5) Listen to your body, and don’t get caught up in what other people are doing or saying! It’s easy to compare yourself to others, and to believe that you should be faster or more fit, but the beginning of your journey will look different than the middle of theirs. Trust the process, stick with a pace you’re comfortable with, and bank the runs; it all counts. Once you start to feel stronger, try testing yourself and you’ll find out how resilient you are. A common misconception is that it will get infinitely easier as you continue, and it does in certain ways, but your body is conditioned to tell you to quit 100 times. The more you get out there, the better you’ll be able to determine what is your mind vs your body limiting you. Running is a deeply personal journey, as you’ll inevitably spend a great deal of time alone with your thoughts.

There is no recipe for creating a perfect runner. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or a beginner, remember that how you run 2020 is up to you. Listen to your body, enjoy the run, engage the community, and have fun. Running is for you.

By Austin Watt