Lead a sedentary lifestyle? Does your job have you sitting at a computer, or driving a truck or car all day? Put on a few pounds recently? Know you should be exercising, but don’t seem to know where to start?
If you found yourself nodding along to any of these questions, we’ve got a few tips that may help you get going and stick with it. Check out some steps you can take so you can be on track to a great running regimen for losing weight.
Step 1: Start Slow, Build Up
Don’t expect to go out for your first run and be able to run far, or fast. Start slow. Alternate between walking and a slow jog. Next time, increase the amount of time you are walking, but just by a little. If you go out and push yourself too hard the first time, a few bad things might happen. First, you might injure yourself, preventing future exercise. And second, you might give up quickly, as it seems much too difficult.
Pick a slow pace that seems almost too easy, and build from there. After your exercise routine is established, it’s okay to start pushing yourself a bit. Don’t start this too early, however, as you want to have built up some stamina first. After a few weeks, or even a few months, once you feel comfortable, you’ll want to start pushing yourself to do better. For many, this will come naturally as you want to “beat” your previous runs.
Step 2: Make It a Habit
Exercising once won’t help you much. You want to aim for the long-term benefits from a regimen of exercise, and for that you need to exercise often. With that in mind, try to make your running a habit. Figure out a schedule that will work for you, whether it’s mornings, evenings, or even different times depending on the day. Plan ahead for times when your schedule is clear, and then scheduling your run for that time. Then treat it like an appointment: show up on time and ready to go. Making your running a habit will give you consistency and lead to the changes you want to see in yourself.
Step 3: Track Your Progress
One great way to motivate yourself is to see how you are doing and how you’re improving. There are many ways to track your progress, from a simple notepad or calendar to various free or paid services on the Internet, or even iPhone or Android apps (which can have the advantage of utilizing the phone’s built-in GPS to track your runs for you). Pick something that will work for you, and keep a log of your runs. This ties in to step 1: building up. As you see your run times and distances, you will become motivated to do even better. Similar to a video game high score, improving on your running can be a great motivator.
Warning: Don’t Expect Perfection
Many people start to run, or try an exercise regimen at the gym, and they quit within a few weeks. Why? They expected perfection from themselves. They set a schedule, but then when one workout is missed, the next is missed, and the next, and they’ve given up, because what’s the point since they weren’t able to do it? This is the wrong way to think about it. If you miss a run, no big deal. Go out for your next run a few days later. Life happens. You get sick. The weather doesn’t cooperate. You have to go out of town.
Don’t let those little things stop you. Don’t let not being perfect stop you. Realize that you missed a day, and then keep going. On a similar note, don’t expect perfection in your progress. Some days you will be sore and run slower. Some days you won’t be able to go as far as you did a few days earlier. Don’t get discouraged, but realize that every run will not be perfect. As long as you keep with the habit, you’ll get better.
While exercise isn’t the only thing you need to do to start losing extra pounds, it certainly does help, and at the same time it helps strengthen your muscles, including your heart. So go out there. Start slow, and make it a habit. Track your progress, and as long as you stick with it and don’t expect perfection, you may be surprised at your success.
Photo credit: Running shoes by Steven Verbruggen/flickr