I'm going to assume if you've gotten this far you've at least considered becoming a runner. Before you take the plunge here are some important tips to help you get started:
2. START SLOW. Now that you've received medical clearance it's time to get on the move. Contrary to popular belief running does not / should not equal misery. Look up a couch to 5k plan. You'll notice that you will probably do more walking than running in the first few weeks, it's normal to feel like you are not doing enough. This process should be a gradual build up. This will be a good mind set to have, even after you've become an experienced runner
3. GET THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT. In the beginning there is no need to go crazy but here is my priority list; Shoes, Heart Rate monitor, Clothes, Watch (or some other form of time/distance measurement).
-It all starts with the right shoes. Having the right shoes will reduce your chance of injury and make sure you start off on the right foot (pun intended). Many local running stores will offer a free gait assessment along with a recommendation on which type of shoe you should be wearing. Resist the urge to buy what looks cool in this weeks sale paper.
-Some would argue that the next priority would be good moisture wicking clothing and I won't dispute that, however safety should come first. Having a good heart rate monitor will help to insure you don't over do it. It's useful long term as well, many training programs advocate the monitoring of your heart rate in the plan.
-Moisture wicking clothing is excellent for helping to keep your body temperature regulated. In the winter it's a good idea to wear the moisture wicking layer as your base layer and add the warm clothes on top of that. And if you are going to spend the extra money on the moisture wicking apparel, spend the money and buy the detergent designed for the care/cleaning of the clothing. The detergent will extend the life of the clothing and do a better job and getting rid of the stink.
-You have a few options here but in a nutshell measure your distance on-line, in your car or with some sort of GPS device. More to come in a later post.
4. KEEP A RUNNING LOG. Whether you choose to use a pen and pad of paper or one of the countless websites that exist, keeping a log is a good idea. Not only will you have the benefit of constantly monitoring your progress but it will also serve as good motivator. If you're a visual learner it will help to reinforce what you've accomplished and motivate you to keep going. It will also be fun to go back a year from now and look at all you've accomplished.
5. GO PUBLIC. Brag, tweet, facebook, blog or however you want to do it, just tell everyone your decision to become a runner. I believe that holding yourself accountable will also serve as a good motivator. I can think of countless times that I have publicly said "I'm running 10 miles tomorrow!" Then tomorrow comes and 6 miles into my run I've thought of twenty reasons why seven or eight would be good enough. But then I'm reminded of all the 'bragging' I've done and now want the satisfaction of saying I did what I said I was going to do.
6. SET A GOAL. Nothing beats putting your money where your mouth is (or in this case your feet). This is another great motivator. Pick a 5k at 10-16 weeks out from the start of your training. On those days when you just don't feel like running, remember you are now financially invested in this endeavor.
7. FIND A RUNNING BUDDY. Whether you manage to sucker a friend into it, hook up with an already established runner or join a running club, this will be another good motivator. Somebody is counting on you now so you can't let them down. Don't be intimidated by running clubs, most of them will have people of varying ability and experience. Remember, we all started at some point and we want nothing more than to help you succeed in "embracing the suck!"
A friend of mine has a band named 28 Days (shameless plug). The meaning behind the name; it takes 28 days to create a habit. Keep this in mind when starting out. Even the most experienced runners have days when they just don't feel like lacing up and hitting the road. Hopefully use these tips will help get you to the point where running has become a habit. Then, on those days you miss your scheduled training run it will become the uncomfortable day as opposed to those days when you went for a run in the beginning.