Setting goals is the most important part of any new program, but what should your first goals be?
It can be tough to know what is realistic when starting out with a new…anything. With running, you never know what is too easy or too much. Some people get excited about a marathon and want to do it. How can you get started without getting discouraged?
Get to 30 minutes of continuous running or a 5k distance first. It’s a magic number really. After you get to 30 minutes or a 5k, adding distance is a lot simpler. If you haven’t hit this point yet, this is your first goal.
Here are 5 reasons to nail the 5k before going for a longer distance:
1. The first few miles are the hardest. Even the most seasoned long distance runners will tell you that the first few miles are hard. Building that base in those hard miles will set you up for running success.
2. Adding too much distance too fast is a recipe for injury. Nothing will take the joy away from running than an injury that sets you back and takes, what feels like, forever to heal from.
3. You want all of the successes and as few setbacks as possible. The truth is that there are so many back steps in running. Especially when you get to longer distances. It is hard. Worth it, but still hard. You must build on some solid wins before you put yourself in a place to have the bad days. Let’s be honest, there is enough trouble starting off without setting super difficult goals.
4. Get faster before adding time. It takes some time to get faster. If a person who isn’t a runner wakes up and decides to go 3 miles, could possibly take close to an hour. Someone who has built a good base can do a 10k in about the same time. Before you add distance, making your runs take longer, add some speed. I am not talking about track workouts and sprints, just getting to a steady pace over the 30 minutes of time. Then as you add distance later, you cover more ground in less time.
5. You want this to be fun. I will never forget the first time I ran 3 solid miles without walking. Seriously. And most anyone who has struggled to get there will tell you the same thing. I remember celebrating that win that I had worked so hard for. It was exciting and really launched me into so many great running adventures since then. But that moment made me a runner. Everyone will have a different moment, but there is something about getting to 3 miles. After that you can just keep going (as long as you are adding distance in a safe and responsible way)
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to start here. It seems like everyone wants to do a half-marathon or marathon, but it is ok to start smaller than that. Make those leaps when you are ready and know you are going to gain confidence and health through that adventure.