How I Got Over The Jogging Beginner's Hump

My first attempts at jogging were met by my body feeling like it was going to fall apart. Jogging seems as easy as lacing up and taking off down the street, but it has hidden challenges. Here's how I learned to get over the beginner's hump and turn jogging into a habit.

I have been a cyclist for a long while, and because of that, the very act of jogging has always been weird for me. Why would anyone want to do more work to go less distance? However, cycling requires a lot more time that I simply don't have now. Jogging provides a similar exercise in less time, and about five months ago I started to make the switch. For me, this isn't about running a marathon someday — it's just about getting the minimum amount of exercise needed to keep me alive and well.

The Only Gear You Really Need: Good Shoes and the Right Shirt

Like most people, I decided to start jogging at random and then went out and tried it in the closest thing I owned to running shoes. This was a pair of Adidas soccer shoes. As it turns out, they're not the best thing to run in. So I learnt the important first step: get the right gear.

You don't need a lot for running. In fact, the only thing you really need is a pair of shoes. I also picked out a shirt from my closet that felt like it would be a good shirt for running. It was nothing more than a random promotional shirt, but when I put it on I immediately get into the mental mode needed to force myself off the couch and out onto the streets. With the right gear, it's time to learn the next important part: the right form. Photo by MichaEli.

Learn Correct Form Before You Even Hit the Pavement

My first attempts at starting a jogging routine went something like this: purchase shoes, put shoes on, go outside and run. When I returned home after a short 1.6km run, I nearly puked my lungs out in pain and promptly fell to the floor with aching bones. The reason? Part of it was the new experience for my muscles, but as I learnt after a couple more attempts, the real problem was my complete lack of form.

When I first started, I hadn't run with a purpose since running home from school to watch TV. In turn, I had no real idea what I was doing. In my head, this was all about the mental effort of running and not about form. As it turns out, form is just as important, and I was doing it horribly wrong. The video to the right guides you through how to do it properly. While it might seem like something you should just "know how to do", it's worth the time to practise and get it right.

Don't Try Being Awesome Yet

As I mentioned above, I come from a cycling background, and while I'm certainly no fitness guru, I'm in decent shape all around. With the gusto of a real rookie, I figured I'd be awesome at jogging right out of the gates. I was disappointed rather quickly.

My first run attempt was about 1.6km of sustained running. When I was done, every part of my body was on fire. I decided I should probably look up a better method. Coming from cycling, I found Cycling Tips suggestion that's repeated across a number of other sites:

In the beginning of your running fitness it's wise to run for 5 mins, walk for 2 mins. This will still get you a great workout but will be much easier on your body and will allow you to get out of bed the day after. Slowly build up this walk/run mixture to eventually phase out the walking so that you can run for a full 30-45 mins.

This was key for me because my inflated ego of being "in shape" on a bike wasn't transferring over to jogging. I was a beginner and I had to treat myself like one. Photo by Alastair.Pott.

Find a Time and Stick to It

Some people can probably go out for a jog whenever they have the free time, but I'm a person of habit and had to pick a time I knew I would stick to on a regular basis. We've pointed out before that a schedule helps you stick with an exercise routine, and it's certainly the case for me. After playing around with mornings, afternoons and evenings I settled on an early evening time: 6.30pm. This works for my schedule 100 per cent of the time, easily transfers into other seasons, and captures daylight most of the year.

Accent the Experience with Cheap Tech

Taking a cue from our own Adam Pash, I know that technology is a great way to get yourself in shape because it gives you tangible data showing where you're improving (or not). As an avid user of the RunKeeper smartphone app to track cycling data, I started using it for its original purpose of jogging as well. For me, this was all I needed to get started because it let me track my accomplishments easily.

I'm also a person who loves a good story, and right when I was getting a little bored with the routine of simply jogging to beat my own scores, the iOS app Zombies, Run! (also being released on Android on June 14) was released. Zombies, Run! essentially turns running into a little game, complete with a story mode, survival supply gathering and more. If you want a way to turn your jogging into a story, it's a great option that might provide you with the narrative incentive you need to keep it up.

You don't need any of this tech, but for some people it might help. Just remember that the cheap or free smartphone apps will work fine when you're starting out. If you really want to get into training, you can make the jump to the more expensive and dedicated tech (like a Nike Running Watch or BodyMedia Armband), but it's not necessary for the casual runner.

Five months into this, I've formed the habit of running and I've kept myself in shape in considerably less time than I was spending on a bike. I was starting from a pretty good fitness point, but I had a bunch of hiccups along the way that nearly caused me to stop completely. Like any beginner I had to actively hunt down what worked best for me then exploit that until it became a new habit. The bumps I ran into certainly aren't the only ones, so share your own experiences in the comments.


Comments

    The problem for me to get started with jogging was not knowing what to do ie. do I run for 30 mins non stop or 10 mins or walk 1 hour?

    The c25k (couch to 5km) 9 week program helped a lot as it gave me a guideline to follow! Worth checking out!

      I've always been able to run a decent distance, but I have heard good things about the couch to 5km from my friends on facebook who are a bit less fitness-orientated.

      My tip is for people who can't be bothered with that stuff and are not really athletic is to just go out and run for say 5-10 minutes, keep it slow if it's your first time, like the slowest you can jog, just above a walking pace. When I say 5 to 10 minutes, go half of that one way and half of it back.

      I loved the c25k because, like finding a time and sticking to it, it adds structure and routine, as well as giving you concrete goals to aim for. The fact those goals are long-term is icing on the cake.

      There's lots of timing apps for android and iphone, too. When I started jogging I had one of those running in tandem with RunKeeper to tell me which leg I was on.

    One item to add to the 'only gear you need': the right bra. Tight but not sternum-crushing, supportive but not restrictive. Makes a massive difference not only to your comfort during and after a run, but also to the health of your lady bits long term.

    This is the same lesson that I have had to learn the hard way, Form and Good Shoes!!!!. The problems I have been encountering with incorrectly fitting shoes and bad form were severe muscle pain along the shin bone. Which meant that it would be maybe 2 or 3 weeks before I could go out and run again. Went to my old every day sneakers (Asics) which fit me correctly went running, ended up with sore calf muscles but in different area which is good and recovered from the soreness (not pain) with in 2 days. That was a huge improvement, but good correctly fitting running shoes are expensive as you are looking around $200 for a good pair unless you can get them overseas for cheaper which I might end up doing.

    @Casey: I would think that most women would be smart enough to have a good sports bra.

      It's not just a matter of smarts - do you know how hard it is to find a good, *comfortable*, well-fitting bra these days!?

      Biggest mistake of my running carear was to get a pair of shoes on line. They didnt fit perfectly and I ended up ripping groin from to wide shoes. Still not back to running and its been 12 months.

      I couldnt work out why I was sore as it didnt start straight away. It took 3 months running in crap ( and expensive ) shoes not suited for my foot to work out why. Learnt the VERY hard way

      NEVER NEVER NEVER buy online shoes for running. Get fitted. One shoe is NOT the same as the next

    What about starting out by walking for a few days or weeks THEN start into jogging. You can't expect to be able to jog right from the starout if you aren't fit in the first place. Obviously Thorin was reasonably fit from bike riding in the first place!!

      @Marty: I'd think that most people would be smart enough to run in shoes that fit properly, too. Not so much, huh?

    I might give that Zombies Run game a try. Anything to make jogging more pleasurable
    because I frikkin HATE jogging!

    > " However, cycling requires a lot more time that I simply don’t have now. Jogging provides a similar exercise in less time"

    Um, something wrong with this logic! ;-)
    You can easily burn the SAME (or more, or less, depending on how hard you ride/run) number of kilojoules (or calories, for Americans) cycling that you do jogging.

    The only thing you could accurately say is "Jogging burns more energy in less DISTANCE".

      Not true. Because Australia's redneck drivers are some of the world's most homicidal (towards cyclists), many people need to drive to somewhere safe to cycle, which all adds time. OTOH, it's safe to run almost anywhere.

    Doh - edit to the above: You can easily burn the same number of kilojoules PER HOUR cycling that you do jogging.

    smart phone + strava. (www.strava.com)

    best

    ever!

    Not on the list but it's what helped me get to weekly 10ks (albeit not at a great pace)is this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Born-Run-Hidden-Superathletes-Greatest/dp/0307266303

    It has a lot to do with the mindset of running and how it should be enjoyable, not a chore to be done out of necessity.

    The hardest part for me was breaking past the initial "stitch" i got after about 500m-1k mark. I just wanted to give up. PERSIST through this, either by just power-walking or run through it. Just make sure you don't stop all together at this point as you'll never break past it if you do.
    I trained by just running as far as I could, and then power-walk until I caught my breath. It works awesome... I went from 0 to 7km in about 3 months of irregular exercise.
    PRO NEWBIE TIP: Find someone else who is keen to go running with you. You will do much MUCH better if you have support.

    Any tips on how to stash your smartphone on your body when jogging?

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