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Gotta’ Run: Spring is here, so how can you get started?

After 45 years of running, I have a pretty good handle on what works for me and why I run in the first place. That list is long and keeps growing. I read some statistics today about why people start running. No. 1 by far is the desire to lose weight and next best is a certain unhappiness about the shape, both mentally and physically, they are in. Those also are usually the first two reasons for New Year’s resolutions, usually forgotten by this time of year. If not forgotten, then for some reason they didn’t become habits.

As a longtime running coach, early spring is the single most popular time of the year that I get inquiries about how to get started. More than 60 million Americans consider themselves regular runners, so many had success developing the best fitness habit I know.

How is the best way to get started? The single best way is to join a group class that offers coaching, interesting classroom topics and a certain distance challenge at the end. We are in the last few weeks of a booming class at the Salisbury PD that started back in early March. The next one takes place in the fall.

As an individual, you do have several options that will work. About half of those 60 million started running on their own. The other half needed a certain outside accountability, the real key to being consistent in your search for better health. Following a few suggestions below nets a high percentage of success.

All of you know a regular runner, someone you see out running on a regular basis. A friend or relative, a neighbor, a coworker could all fill the bill. But the point is to start a conversation and make sure that at least that one person knows that you want to be a runner. There are many levels of running, almost as many as there are reasons to start, and most regular runners go through several of those levels during their lifetime.

Some of us want to lose the weight, get fit or even be happier now that life’s issues are being addressed. Others want to be competitive, against themselves or others, and still more use running as a social network. I’ve often said, and Brayden Self echoed the same last week, that some of my best friends came from running. I stopped for 20 minutes beside the road just a few mornings ago to catch up with a running friend. But the point is, start by telling someone and then if you are one of the 40% who prefer to run with someone, find that person. Both of you become accountable to each other and the likelihood of success goes up by another 30%.

Now that you have a partner, start small. There are lots of beginning runner programs on the internet, but honestly I don’t care for most of them, especially couch to 5K programs. The reasons, lack of accountability and individualism. When you drive past someone running, you can bet that they didn’t start with a non-personal couch to 5K.

Almost anybody can run/walk a half mile. I say that in the group classes often. Next, there are no shortcuts, you have to build the distance over a specified period of weeks. That is called “homework.” Accountability again! It takes four days a week for about eight weeks, any time of the day. Follow through and you will have started a wonderful habit.

Salisbury was designated one of the nation’s best running communities a couple years ago by the Road Runners Club of America. We do have lots of runners and walkers in Rowan County, but we always need more. If you’re interested in getting started, send me an email at david.freeze@ctc.net I will share some info that will help and I’ll be glad to answer your questions. No charge! Spring’s here, time to make it happen.

Look for the upcoming prediction run and the 20th Annual Bare Bones 5K at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org .

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