If you’re looking for a beginners guide to running for weight loss, you’ve come to the right place.
If you told my 20-year-old self I would one day make the commitment to learn to run, and that I would eventually teach myself how to run 5K with ease, I would have laughed in your face. You see, despite the fact that I’ve always been on the slender side, I have never been in particularly good shape. I’ve never been able to touch my own toes, walking up a flight of stairs used to leave me winded, and I was always picked last in gym class.
And while none of that stuff bothered me when I was younger, becoming a mom has completely changed my perspective on life. It has given me the motivation I need to become a better version of myself so I can be more present with my daughter and husband.
For a long time, I used to think I just needed to sleep less and do more, but I soon realized that was a recipe for disaster. I had no energy, I was impatient, my waistline was expanding, and I generally felt bad about myself.
So when my husband announced he had joined a gym one evening and I found myself feeling irritated instead of supportive – how dare he go to the gym when I was home with a one-year-old! – I decided to something needed to change and decided I would follow his lead.
It’s been over 5 years since I made the commitment to learn to run, and despite some of the setbacks I’ve experienced along the way, nothing makes me feel as energetic, clear-headed, and HAPPY as a long run outside with my favorite tunes pumping through my ears.
I’ve lost weight, gained perspective, and I just generally feel better about myself, and I’m so excited to team up with Champion to share my beginners guide to running for weight loss in hopes that you, too, will make the commitment to learn to run!
WRITE DOWN YOUR GOAL
If you want to become a runner, the first thing you need to do is figure out what your goal is. You might have a super huge goal, like running a half-marathon to raise money for a charity in memory of a loved one, or you might simply be doing it for weight loss and general health. The goal itself doesn’t matter as long as it’s a SMART one (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Time Sensitive). Having a specific goal to work towards not only helps you pick the right training program, but it also holds you accountable and keeps you going on days you feel like giving up.
CHOOSE A PLAN
If you do a quick search online and in the app store on your smartphone, you will find HEAPS of beginner running program plans to choose from. It can be a bit overwhelming! My biggest advice is to find one that not only fits with your goals, but that is realistic given your abilities and time constraints. As tempting as it is to set the bar REALLY high when we take up a new sport like running, we often underestimate the commitment required, and sometimes have to reevaluate our goals to keep things manageable. That’s not to say you shouldn’t push yourself, but only you can decide what you are and are not capable of, and when it comes to learning how to run, sometimes starting small is the best plan of action.
EMBRACE THE RUN WALK PLAN
The best way to learn to run, in my opinion anyway, is to start with a run walk plan in which you incorporate walking breaks throughout your run to help recover your breathing. Also known as the Galloway Method, the run walk method not only helps build endurance in beginners, but it also improves running speed in more advanced runners while also helping to prevent injury.
You can adjust your plan however you need to based on your individual endurance and ability. The point is to break it into manageable, but challenging chunks, and to structure your running program such that you continue to make improvements each week rather than staying static.
LEARN PROPER RUNNING FORM
When it comes to learning proper running form, things can get VERY technical. From cadence and posture to flexibility and foot strike, learning to run the right way may not be as simple as you think. And while proper running form is certainly important when it comes to preventing injury, some runners (myself included) would argue that your body will eventually learn its natural form over time. With that said, there are 4 things I feel are particularly important when it comes to running form:
- Make sure you are standing tall and leaning forward every so slightly while running.
- Look straight ahead with your neck relaxed.
- Keep your shoulders square and relaxed.
- Make sure your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TUNES
While the jury is still out on whether or not music can improve your running time, personal experience has shown that listening to the right kind of music makes all the difference in turning a good run into a great one. Your body will automatically try to keep up with the beat of the tunes you are listening to, so tailor your running playlist accordingly. Ideally, you want to have 3 different playlists – one for tempo runs, one for long-distance runs, and one for recovery runs – but if you’re lazy like me, making one playlist with only upbeat, fast-paced songs will suffice!
FUEL YOUR BODY
When it comes to nutrition and running, everyone’s requirements vary based on their individual goals, the type of program they are following, the time of day at which they run, etc. And while some people can go for a run mere minutes after eating a meal, others (myself included) suffer severe stomach cramps if they eat something as small as a protein bar within 2 hours before exercise. It all boils down to a bit of trial and error to figure out what works best for you and your body, but when it comes to the kinds of foods you should eat, a combination of proteins and carbohydrates guarantees you’re fueled up throughout your run, and a mix of complex and simple carbohydrates ensures that your energy release is steady.
Here are 5 of my favorite pre-run snacks:
- Whole wheat toast with nut butter and banana
- Greek yogurt & trail mix
- Fruit & Protein Smoothie
- Oats & Eggs
- Tuna on a Leafy Green Salad
While setting goals, choosing a running plan, and learning the basics about running form and nutrition are essential when learning how to run, making sure you are equipped with the right gear is equally important. Now, this isn’t to say you need to run out and spend a fortune on sweat-wicking apparel and electronic gadgets like running watches and heart-rate monitors, but there are 2 things I never scrimp on:
The right running shoes. While it’s no secret you need a pair of running shoes if you want to learn to run, not all running shoes are created equally. The shape of your foot, your weight, and the surfaces you run on all need to be taken into consideration when choosing a shoe, so make sure to visit a store that specializes in running so you can buy a pair that fits you and your needs.
A supportive sports bra. Before the sports bra, a lack of physical support was a barrier to female participation in sports like running. Now, sports bras allow women of all shapes and sizes to increase the intensity of their workouts and sports, and Champion continues to innovate their sports bra product assortment to support any woman and her physical needs.
Fun fact: The first sports bra, branded Jogbra, was first marketed and sold in 1977 and in 1994, Jogbra was rebranded as Champion.
Champion is excited to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the sports bra this summer, with a dedicated 40th Anniversary Sports Bra style, available July 2017. Its producing an exclusive Champion red Absolute Sport Bra to commemorate this pinnacle moment in time, and the bra includes a jock tag – inspired by the jock strap bra – on the back of the bra calling out 1997, which was the year the sports bra was first sold.
I had the chance to take the Absolute Sport Bra for a test spin last week and oh my goodness did I ever love it. Unlike the other women in my family, I was not blessed with big breasts, and while some would assume this makes exercises a non-issue for me, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Whether you’re a DD-cup like my sister or an A-cup like me, gravity works in the same way, and the Absolute Sport Bra got an A+ rating from me:
- It’s comfortable and non-chafing
- The compressive fit keeps bounce under control
- The sweat-wicking Champion Vapor technology keeps me dry
- It’s easy to put on and take off
- It looks good!
If you want to learn to run but don’t know where to start, I hope this Beginners Guide to Running for Weight Loss inspired you to take the first step. Set goals, challenge yourself, fuel your body, support your girls with the right sports bra, and remember these famous words:
The voice inside your head that says you can’t do this is a liar.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Champion. All opinions are my own.
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