Here’s a secret that seasoned runners rarely talk about: Nobody feels like a “runner” the first time they hit the pavement. And yet everybody has to start somewhere. When tackling a new challenge, it’s normal to feel self-conscious or uncertain. Is everyone looking at me? Am I doing it right? Am I going to get hurt? A few simple tips can help novice runners build confidence and feel more comfortable in their own shoes.
How to feel confident while running
- First of all, invest in quality clothing that feels comfortable on the go. If you look great in your clothes, all the better! It’s worth buying athletic gear that you enjoy using, but make sure it’s also practical for working out. Synthetic, quick-drying materials that are well-fitted to your body — but not too tight — are a great choice.
- Recruit a friend to run with you. It can help if your running partner has more experience, so you can ask questions or seek advice. But you can also benefit from running with another novice runner, boosting each other as you tackle your shared challenge.
- Avoid overly critical or negative self-talk. Sometimes when our bodies are tired, our minds drift toward negativity. You can cut off these thoughts by pushing back with positive affirmations. It helps to think of a few mantras before you head out. Repeat them out loud. You’d be surprised how much a simple “You’re doing great!” can boost morale.
- Don’t compare yourself to other people or worry about what they think. Their situation is different than yours, and you can feel confident that you’re the best you on the run.
- Focus on the positives of running, such as the benefits to your physical and mental health. Think about why you started running, and remind yourself that you’re this much closer to your goals.
How to avoid frustration and injury
- Build up gradually to let body and mind adapt. It can be challenging to decide where exactly to begin. One rule of thumb is to start with a pace that feels natural, where your breathing is steady but not difficult, and hold this pace for ten minutes. From there, you can continue to build both distance and speed in steady intervals. Search online for beginner training plans, such as Couch to 5K, which are a great way to establish healthy progression.
- Create a goal with progressive steps to keep you motivated. Many runners enjoy training for a race such as 5K. Follow a training plan and then relish in the results.
- Don’t overreach. Injury risk is highest when you increase your mileage or pace too quickly, overtaxing muscles and joints that haven’t fully adapted to higher impact. Trying too much too soon is also more likely to lead to feelings of failure, which will make it more challenging to stick with your goals.
- Use high-quality, well-fitting running shoes for the best results. Track the mileage on your shoes, and buy new ones when they become worn out — usually 300 to 400 miles for most shoes.
How to feel safer
- Run during daylight hours if possible. If you must run early or late, wear brightly colored clothing, a reflective vest, and a bright headlamp. If you’re wearing a hydration belt, clip a red flashing light to the strap across your back so drivers can see you from behind.
- Run-on sidewalks, pedestrian paths, or road shoulders if possible. If spaces away from traffic are not available, run on the “opposite” side of the road while facing oncoming vehicles. This way, drivers will see your face, and you will be able to move out of the way if a vehicle is approaching too close.
- Obey all traffic rules and always yield to vehicles at intersections.
- Stick to familiar neighborhoods and areas known to be safe.
- Dress for the weather. Layering is best, especially if the forecast calls for cold or rain. It’s better to remove a jacket and stash it away — or even tie it around your waist — than not to have a jacket when you need one.
- Pack safety items such as your phone, a safety whistle if you need to signal for help, and extra clothing layers, water, and food. Having a few additional items on hand will boost your confidence to go further or longer because you can handle an emergency if it arises. Fitletic running belts are a comfortable, convenient way to carry everything you need on your run.
Here at Fitletic, we understand that starting your running journey can be hard, but with these helpful tips, you can help yourself become a confident runner in no time! Looking for more tips and tricks? Check out our blog page.