As a beginning runner it can be overwhelming when you stare down at your first training program regardless of the distance you are training for.
When you are returning to running after an extended break, you have an advantage over those who are just getting into the sport. You at least know what you are getting into, and you know what it takes to get to where you were before your break.
Even with this knowledge, and sometimes because of this, training can be overwhelming.
A friend of mine recently contacted me about getting back into running after having a baby. She was running consistently prior to getting pregnant and the birth of her daughter. But, having a little one who needs you much of the time makes running or exercising in any way more difficult.
Her goal is to run a 50 miler one year from now. This is an entirely achievable goal. It will take the entire year for her to get there with the lowest risk for an injury. She will have to follow the golden rules of running: 1. never increase your weekly miles by more than 10% and 2. Reduce your miles by 20% every fourth week to allow your body to recover and gain strength.
How do you get going without feeling like you will never reach your goal?
Use a calendar and track your progress. Small progress and improvements, are still improvements. Breaking your training down into smaller bites such as week by week, makes it seem more manageable.
If you post your training program where you can see it everyday (my recommendation to stay motivated and accountable) don’t post the entire thing. Just hang up one or two weeks and then check off each day as you knock them out.
Beginning runners should start with a shorter distance such as a 5k or 10k. Completing shorter distances with more manageable training programs builds confidence in your ability. It is also easier to find 5k and 10k races. Participating in events every three months helps keep you motivated and training.
A couch to 5k training program can be anywhere from eight to twelve weeks depending on your fitness level when you start. It’s easy to overestimate our ability to run, so start easier than you think and then increase the difficulty and distance once you have a better understanding of what your body is able to do.
The other thing I recommend to new or returning runners be gentle with yourself. You’re going to have set backs, even elite runners have bad days. We are more harsh with ourselves than anyone else is.
Keep things small, set goals, track progress, and be gentle with yourself.