As far as fitness advice goes, we’re often told that running is the simplest and cheapest form of exercise. But when it comes to discipline, running is not as easy as going from couch potato to hitting the road the very next minute. Granted, all those runners who brave the nippy morning breeze give you the worst case of fomo, but the pro-laziness voices in your brain are still murmuring, “how are you going to handle motorists’ stares or just the plain fact that road running is intimidating?”
As a new runner, the trick is to start slow and small, especially if you’re not going into it for competitive reasons, says Vongani Mashile, head of technical and coaching at Fat Cats, a social running club. He further explains that most people take up running for health issues and weight loss reasons. “So, if you’re going from the couch to the road, remember that your heart muscles and your legs aren’t accustomed to that amount of activity. Starting too fast, too soon, could lead to many injuries and, worse, a heart attack because of the sudden strain put on the heart. It’s important to allow the body some time to get used to the changes.”
Zweli Matshingani, exercise coach and personal trainer at Motive Motion, recommends that new runners incorporate more walking at the beginning, also known as the run-walk method. “It’s a strategy that even seasoned runners swear by,” he shares.