I love running and I love to talk about running. Non-runners tell me over and over again how running is too hard, too unpleasant, too uncomfortable. It gives them a stitch and it leaves them breathless.
I myself have attempted to become a runner quite a few times in my life but I only ‘figured it out’ finally at the age of 34. Before that I used to get the stitch, I used to get low blood sugar cold sweats and dizziness, I used to feel like my lungs were about to self combust.
My advice to newbie runners does not involve any training plans or colourful graphs of your speed and pace and cadence.
My advice is a little bit different.
Do not worry about your speed or your form until you enjoy running
Don’t take running too seriously. Don’t worry about your speed or your form until you enjoy it. Your main aim should be enjoyment. Enjoyment is the ONLY thing that will make sure running becomes a part of your life. And enjoyment in running comes from running slowly to begin with. Slower than you think looks like ‘proper running’.
Do not worry about heel striking
The ‘correct’ running form is running however is enjoyable and effortless for you. The end. There is no need to arbitrarily change your heel strike, it will just make your running awkward. After you’re run for a while and at an enjoyable pace, you will figure out a running form that is the most optimal for you.
When you’re ready to focus on form, start from the top, not from your feet
Once you enjoy running, start thinking about your breathing (slow it down, be in control), your cadence (take smaller steps), think about your arms (move them like you’re skiing and not criss cross them across your body). Just become a little bit more aware of these things, don’t force change. Eventually it’ll come. Eventually your breathing will slow down and you will be in control of it, eventually your foot strike will adjust to whatever suits you. There is no one perfect running form. Everyone will run a little bit differently.
Correct running is effortless running
So don’t worry about getting better, just learn to enjoy it. So often we start obsessing about times and goals straight away and we start comparing ourselves to somebody else’s running ability. Don’t do that.
It’s your journey, do it at your pace.
You can train insane for a race and achieve a time you’re proud of but once it’s over you’ll never lace up the running shoes again unless you enjoy running.
Go outside and go for it
Treadmills kill all the joy of running, go outside and run at your own pace. You might think you look like a turtle or a snail but nobody is looking. And even if they are – why would you care what randoms think about you?
It’s your journey. It’s your pace. Own it and enjoy it.