I love talking with new runners. They try so hard to balance their pride in their most recent running accomplishment and their timidity regarding what they know is not a very long distance compared to what I run. Ever since I started organizing a the 5k and 10k race, I’ve been talking to a lot more new runners and people who have run a little before, but are trying to get back into it.
“A mile is a mile,” I tell them. “And a mile is nothing to be ashamed of. It is far. Most people don’t walk a mile in a day.”
“But it must be nothing to you,” they say.
“At mile 99, a mile is the difference between finishing and not. It is the longest mile of your life.”
Being a new runner is harder than being an experienced runner, no matter how far an experienced runner is going. They may have an argument if they are tackling a new distance for them say moving from the half marathon to the full, but even then they have a good idea what they are in for in regards to the physical and mental challenges of running.
But for new runners, every aspect of running is new, exciting, and a challenge from what to wear to how best to train. It’s fun to watch them figure out how their body works and what they can accomplish if they put their mind to it. I believe pretty much anyone can run a marathon, if you want it bad enough. It may not be beautiful or gazelle like, and it may not be the fastest time in the world, country, city, or neighborhood, but you can finish. And finishing is the first goal.
I think the most important thing experienced runners can do is offer encouragement and information. We learn so much about the art of running when we’re out on the road and trails for hours. There is no better way to keep beginning runners motivated and moving forward than to share what we have learned about conquering challenges, pushing beyond a limit, and the pure joy of running.
I’ve been lucky to help train others for various distances watching them cross the finish line is a gift and watching them excel, crushing their own times from a month before is another gift. I love to share in their excitement, but it also motivates me to get better.
Three things for getting started:
- Get good shoes.
- Don’t increase your miles too quickly 10% a week is the rule.
- Stay consistent.
I’ve often said, “If the whole world ran five miles three days a week, the world would be a better place.”