I often meet people who tell me they would love to do what I do—endurance sports—run a marathon, finish a triathlon, etc ... but that they "can't."
Usually the "can't" is because of some perceived physical limitation: I'm just not a runner. I get really tired after, like, ten minutes, or My knees hurt when I run.
Most of the aforementioned limitations are, to me, simply "normal" experiences in the painful process of getting in shape—things that must be worked through in order to do this thing that I do.
So here are my top tips for getting started in endurance sports:
1. Start really small.
I remember when I started training for my first marathon, jogging for 30 minutes would nearly kill me. But I made myself do it every day until 30 minutes was an "easy jog" and then running 10 miles or more became the tough stuff.
2. Make it a habit.
The more consecutive days, then weeks, then months that you can get yourself out the door and be active, the easier it becomes to do so. Don't be surprised if you find yourself unable to go without it after a while!
3. Be accountable.
To get you through those first weeks and months, find a training partner/friend whom you can arrange to meet for your workouts. Accountability is huge—and having friends will make the whole process more fun! If all else fails, PAY someone: hire a coach or trainer for accountability at the very least.
4. Set simple goals.
Set incremental, attainable goals that you can meet throughout this process. It must not be an official event or race—maybe it starts with something as simple as being able to run for 10 minutes straight. You can build up to that by alternating short stints of walking and jogging, then set another goal of 20 minutes of running, and the next thing you know you'll indeed be training for a 5K.
5. Give yourself some credit!
Celebrate and reward yourself for the attainment of each goal. This also means that you only compare yourself to yourself. Remember that all you can ask of yourself is to be a little better, faster, stronger than you were last week.