There’s no shortage of runners in Charlotte. Station yourself somewhere along the Booty Loop on a pleasant afternoon, and it won’t take you long to realize it.
Are you one of them? Would you like to be?
That’s great news! We love running and want to encourage you to be as active as possible.
That said, for every regular runner out there, there are probably half a dozen who started and quit—or wanted to start but never even got off the couch.
Want to beat the odds and become a real runner—someone who not only sticks with it, but actually learns to love it? We can’t make any promises, but the following tips can be a big help.
Shod Yourself Appropriately
In other words, your running shoes matter. A lot.
Now, are we suggesting you drop half a grand on the cherriest pair of high-performance sneakers? No, we are not. That’s ridiculous.
But, we are saying that, if you’re going to run, you need a solid pair of running shoes. And more than that, they need to be the right pair for you.
What does that look like?
- They need to be the right size. Obviously.
- They need to be a good fit for your train—in other words, whether you’re going to be running on the treadmill, the road, or other trail.
- They need to be a good fit for your foot shape and pronation style. Do you have high or low arches? Do you over- or under-pronate? What about your stride length and heel strike? These factors make a difference in terms of what shoe will work best for you. (If you’re not sure what kind of runner you are, stop by our office or check out a specialty running store.)
- They need to be in good condition. Running shoes break down over time. The midsoles compress. The cushioning and support don’t hold up. Depending on your running style, you can expect to replace your shoes every 300-500 miles.
For some more extreme foot shapes or running styles, even a great pair of shoes along might not be enough. We can set you up with a good pair of running orthotics to help provide the extra support you need.
Crank Up the Tunes
Music sets the mood, and music can be a powerful motivator!
It doesn’t really matter whether you love country, classic rock, jazz, bluegrass, Swedish death metal, or Stravinsky. What does seem to matter, according to most studies, is tempo and volume.
Simply put, the louder and faster the tunes, the faster the pace you’re likely to set for yourself—especially at the very beginning and very end of your run.
Of course, you can use this to your advantage. Need a little motivation to charge through those last few miles? Put on a thumping, dance-heavy playlist. Looking to ease the mind and body and slowly bring down your heart rate during cooldown? Put on something a little slower and gentler.
But remember: don’t get too lost in the sound! Listening to music during your run is great fun, but you still need to be aware of your surroundings.
If you run on the treadmill, that’s not an issue. But if you’re sharing the outdoors with cars, cyclists, other pedestrians, etc. it may be best to just listen during the warmup, but turn the music down (or off entirely) during the run itself.
Run with a Buddy
Your mileage may vary on this one.
Some people enjoy the solitude of a morning or evening run—just you, the elements, the crisp wind. A chance to clear your mind and find inner peace. If you’re a running introvert, that’s fine! You do you.
However, many of us can benefit from having a running buddy at least some of the time. Some of the obvious advantages:
- Nothing makes the time fly by like chatting with a good friend. Plus, it helps you keep a good pace—if you’re huffing and puffing too hard to carry on a conversation, you know you’re going too fast.
- You keep each other honest and motivated. When you run alone, it’s often very tempting to cheat, cut corners, or even skip a run entirely. But when someone else is counting on you, you make it work.
- Your buddy can give you feedback on your running form that you couldn’t get on your own.
- It’s safer to run with a partner, especially in dark conditions or alone less-well-traveled routes.
Of course, you and your buddy need to be compatible in terms of your skills, pace, and goals. A serious marathoner and a total newbie probably aren’t going to make a great team. Joining a group like the Charlotte Running Club might be for you!
Another tip we like: have at least one running partner who is in your league, but a teensy bit faster than you. It gives you something realistic to strive for! (A partner a teensy bit slower than you is also good for those days when you know you shouldn’t push yourself.)
Know Your Limits and Set Reasonable Goals
One of the surest ways to give up on running (not to mention injury yourself) is to bite off more than you can chew, burn yourself out, decide you hate everyone and everything, and quit.
Well, here’s some wisdom.
It’s okay to take lots of breaks, or alternate between walking and running at first. And it’s okay if you’re the slowest runner in your group. Your pace and your mileage aren’t the be-all, end-all of running.
In fact, for absolute newbies we strongly encourage you to start slow. Even start with just plain old walking—30 minutes at a time.
If you can’t handle that, work up to it.
If you can handle it, increase your intensity (whether mileage or pace) slowly. We’re talking 10 percent per week, max. Little by little, you’ll get better. You’ll have more fun.
Along the way, set reasonable goals for yourself. The perfect goal is one that pushes you to improve, but remains realistically attainable in a specific and manageable amount of time.
Win the Boston Marathon? Bad goal.
Run an 8-minute mile? That’s potentially more reasonable—depending on your age and whether or not you’re already in pretty good shape.
If you’re out of shape and starting from scratch? Don’t be afraid to set that first goal at something like “jog at any pace for 5 minutes straight without stopping.”
If you set your sights too high, you’re going to get discouraged. If you keep your goals more manageable, you keep finding the motivation you need to hit them.
So that’s our starter guide! We hope you find it helpful, but it’s only the beginning. We look forward to hearing about your latest PR someday soon!
Of course, if you do find yourself dealing with pain and aching during or after your run, don’t ignore it. It’s your body telling you something needs to be fixed. We offer a lot of advanced services for runners looking to get back on the trail, including specialty treatments like MLS laser therapy and platelet-rich plasma. If anyone can you back on track, we can!
Call us today to schedule at the office nearest to you:
- Myers Park: (704) 334-8682
- South Charlotte: (704) 542-8253