Hi, is that you – a reluctant runner whose friends won't shut up while they're running? Welcome to the guide for reluctant runners.
Many people (read: runner) argue that running is a sublime, sublime act that helps the mind and heart overcome life's most annoying obstacles. Moving your body through space seems to stop time, calm the mind, and bring your baseline back to something more primal. We are born to run. It's a fundamental tenet of human evolution and one of the few things that bind us inexorably to generations past. Why is the simple step of the step – the very act that pulls ankle-tugging four-legged friend – so damn difficult to understand?
Our ancestors had no real choice in this matter. They dragged donkeys to escape the snapping jaws of a saber-toothed tiger or to beat a deer for dinner. But our modern motifs are more complex. We run for sports, therapy, companionship, commitment. It fuels egos, suppresses fears and dances the line between discipline and obsession.
If what I'm saying is some truth to you, here for more strenuous miles, lazy loops, and lung-breaking laps. For those of you who identify as non-runners but somehow want to try it out, check out our guide for reluctant runners.
The reluctant runner's guide to running
To get better at running, you have to go into the wound – over and over again. Tyler Joe
Guide for Reluctant Runners Step 1: Ready or t … Start w
Show me someone who is determined to take on a new challenge and I'll show you a liar. Starting something new is terrifying, but if you had always waited to feel "ready", you would never lift your body out of bed.
If your mind is malleable, or at least you're slightly attracted to the idea of running, we're in business. If your running history is defined by your timed high school mile, you know this trip will be much more enjoyable, but full of ups and downs (bob and weave, baby, bob and weave).
While this is a hesitant runner's guide, we can't gloss over things: some runs drag you into a deep, dark pit of despair. Embrace the sucking. Marinate in it. Fighting a rift current is usually a disaster, but if you relax and succumb to the tide, you can ride the wave ashore. Half the battle (and the art) of running is learning to hold the course. Hold out the discomfort because on the other hand there is an endorphin-fueled euphoria (the runner's high can be elusive, but it's not a BS) – until, of course, you stumble into the next sticking point that threatens to sideline you . Make yourself comfortable in the injured locker. Think of it as a standing, sweaty confessional.
Whether you're running a marathon, finishing a charity 10-kilometer route, or just want to turn running into a ritual, you need to know that you will be the middleman between the voice in your head and the devil on your shoulder. Eliminate them, because without the distraction of a team or even equipment, you are left to your own devices. Running is mostly mental.
The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% offers the advantages of a performance shoe for race day in an everyday trainer. Image used with permission
Guide for Reluctant Runners Step 2: Getting Dressed
Okay, we lied. You may need some gear, but the barrier to entry is low here depending on how high-tech you want to get. Finding the right running shoes is of course key to running comfortably, but finding the right size and liking the color is not that easy. They want us to tell you what to buy, we know. But what feels like lightning on our feet could mean to your torture. That should be clear too, but don't squeeze your hooves into a narrow shoe just because it's the new it-pair.
Go to a running store and try different brands and models so you can find the ones that suit your individual needs: foot width, sensitivities, joint discomfort, feeling underfoot. Yes, you can incorporate aesthetics to some extent (cool running clothes and kicks can get you excited on the workout) and the first step out the door is often the hardest.
You also need to consider function. You might want a pair of heavy-duty shoes for the brunt of your workout and a pair of fast-paced racers for time trials, high-octane efforts, and race day. Let's start with the former. Constantly developing new running shoes with feedback from athletes and academia at the NASA level, Nike offers the widest range of styles than any other brand.
One of the most popular kicks is the Pegasus. The latest iteration, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38, is sturdy yet plush and features a wider toe box. It's a workhorse to support you on your very first run. Another mainstay in the sneaker range is the Nike React Infinity Run, a shoe that masters a major hurdle for beginners: injuries. In an independent study, the Infinity Run reduced injuries to the knee, foot, shin and / or calf compared to Nike's Structure 22.React foam provides shock absorption and energy return to cushion impact forces while providing a firm, springy feel underfoot . Incisions and grooves in the heel additionally absorb the landing forces so they don't ricochet off your legs, while tighter, flatter patterns on the toes increase responsiveness for smoother toe transitions.
As you progress, so should your running shoes. Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% is where you graduate. He's downgraded the specifications of a race day shoe – just to be more suitable for daily training. Expect a durable outsole and a solid base for more safety when taking off. Nike combines ZoomX Foam and React Foam in the heel for better shock absorption if you're a heel forward so you don't feel the tip of your shoe or lose momentum. (You don't have to overcorrect your stride just because running in the forefoot is considered more efficient. If you don't injure yourself, run the way it feels natural.) It has Air Zoom Pods for significant energy return and a softer carbon fiber board, which moderates the airbags and creates a smooth transition.
Take a look at running clubs and marathon finishers and you'll get a hint about what is proven to be the fastest and most advanced running shoe: Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%. They aren't strictly necessary the first time you start, but when and when the running starts for you, these pups will help you level up. They feel like rockets on your feet. When Eliud Kipchoge broke records in 2019 with his unofficial marathon time of 1:59:40, he was wearing a prototype of the Alphafly NEXT%. The racing shoe has a snappy, full-length carbon fiber plate and two Zoom Air-Pods in the forefoot for plenty of momentum with every step. Your legs will feel less fatigued after prolonged, harder exertion.
Another standout racing shoe if you want something minimalistic is the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 2. A carbon fiber plate runs the length of the midsole, in addition to the patented ZoomX foam that gives that torpedo-like feel. The waterproof mesh upper has been redesigned from the previous iteration to conform to your feet for added support and comfort.
To keep track of your runs, invest in something like the Apple Watch Series 7, which is compatible with Nike Run Club, or Garmin's GPS-enabled Forerunner series.
Much used Nike React Infinity Run (left); Running phenomenon Steve Prefontaine sprinting over the track (right). Courtesy of Nike
Guide for Reluctant Runners Step 3: Find Your Why and Choose Joy Over Everything Else
Some purists get all high and mighty when it comes to running without the distractions, but we're here to tell you to run happily. Before you go, establish an intention and do whatever is necessary to support it.
When you need an amp, search Spotify for a playlist that will make you feel like an off-leash dog charging with ferocious devotion. Would you like something light to jog in the neighborhood? Fire up Armchair Expert, Dax Shepards Podcast. He might get poetic about proper butt-wiping technique in one episode with Jason Bateman (front to back or back to front?) And then recall punk memories with Ashton Kutcher in the next. And when you've got a long run on deck, think about masculinity and masculinity with Matthew McConaughey's audio book Greenlights. Sometimes a distraction from the doldrums of running is just what you need to stay consistent – and that feels just as good as any PR … green light.
If you're looking for guidance rather than entertainment, download the Nike Run Club app. Push all reservations towards guided runs. It's nice to hand over the reins and have someone tell you what to do. Nike's coaching group offers wise advice and just the right amount of inspiration to help you persevere without the haughty Rah-Rah approach that can go wrong with cheerleading. Fan favorites include guided sessions like “Don't Wanna Run Run”, “First Long Run” and “Next Speed Run”.
You can also read through training plans, like the 4-week beginner's training to get up and running for the first time, or a 14-week half marathon plan.
A word to the wise: don't let the ego dictate what a “good” run is. Those "bad" runs that are struggling to get times or intended mileage are still progressing in your belt. The weird thing about running is that your best runs – which make you feel strong and effortless – can come on days when you feel sluggish and a little tight. Likewise, you could start out super motivated and then lose your strength halfway. Don't fixate on the ultimate goal. Appreciate and celebrate checkpoints along the way.
Running may reward those who race with logical skills à la Steve Prefontaine (above), a legendary long-distance runner, but exercise with patience and humility. Do not rush the process. Building endurance takes time. To go fast, you have to be slow. And if you don't like physical therapy, you need to commit to holistic training: foam rolls, dynamic warm-ups, cool-downs, strength training, proper energy and hydration, occasional deep tissue massage, and days of rest.
Another nugget to think about: you have no idea what your limits are. Delight in the fact that your potential is untapped and ripe for exploration.
Guide for Reluctant Runners Step 4: Chase Strangers Until You Run With Friends
Once you've built up some stamina and speed, be sure to check out a local running club. It's one of the best ways to stay accountable and get excited about the lace every week.
Running clubs are more popular in metropolitan areas, but look for the Road Runners Club of America, check with your local running store, or even stop to talk to groups on a track or together on street runs. It's hard to convey just how valuable the relationships are, but it changes the way you look at training. Working in a group transforms an “I have to” into an “I have to”. Do you know what they say about miserable society? A solo suffering festival is always trumped by a strenuous group training.
When you are in doubt about your skills, you can turn to teammates to help keep you motivated, challenge you more, and confirm that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
After high school and college, races become more of an individual competition. You are trying to beat your own 3 mile or marathon time and do not see the person next to you as a threat.
When nothing is at stake, you have everything to win.
Guide for Reluctant Runners Step 5: Rinse and repeat
w that you have the tools and a game plan, enjoy the ride. Whether you register for a race or drive a “fast” time, you are part of the largest community. You are a runner.
All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other.
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