I was 370 pounds when I stared running a year ago. I now weigh 198 pounds, and I just ran my first marathon distance: 26.2 miles. I have ran over 1,800 miles in the last year.
On June 17, 2013, I started a journey to change my life, and lose 170 pounds. I was tired of the way I looked, and felt, and wanted to lose this weight once and for all.
I knew what I wanted to do for my diet, and when it came to exercise, I turned to running.
My mother is from Mombasa, Kenya (a country known to be home to some of the world's greatest runners) and I had the amazing opportunity to live in Kenya for two years.
During my time in Kenya, we ran a lot, and most of that running was barefoot. I fell in love with running, and even got to train a few times in Iten, Kenya, which is where the elite Kenyan runners train.
Running helped me lose those 170 pounds, and create a healthy lifestyle. Though running is tough on the body and you need to be careful, it can also lead to amazing transformations.
These seven tips helped me change my life, and they can help you too.
1. Start slow.
I’m sure every runner would love to run a four-minute mile, but that’s not the reality for a lot of us. Worse, if you’re not ready to run that fast, you can seriously injury yourself.
Whether you’re running to lose weight, starting out in running, or trying to improve, it’s better to start slower. Your goal is to build up your endurance first. Once you have some endurance, and can run for more than a few miles, then you can work on your speed. This isn’t a race. It’s a marathon!
2. Run at your own pace.
One area runners can struggle with is trying to compare themselves to other runners. If you use an app, it can be tempting to try to keep up with your friends.
Running too much, or too fast, can lead to injury. Your running journey has to be your own, not a mirror of someone else's. When you run at your own pace, you learn what your body can (and can’t) handle.
3. Listen to your body.
This is one of the most important lessons that you can learn in running, and with weight loss. If your body tells you to rest, you need to listen. Getting in tune with your body's needs is invaluable.
That said, you do need to learn the difference between listening to your body, and making excuses not to exercise.
4. Set a consistent schedule.
Running is hard, and when you take several days off, it’s like starting all over again. This isn’t to say that you have to run every day, but setting a consistent schedule helps with weight loss, and will improve your endurance, which makes you a stronger runner.
5. Watch your water intake.
While in rare cases, drinking too much water during a run can be dangerous during a run (this is why marathon runners need to get plenty of electrolytes) most beginning runners do not hydrate enough! If you don't want to take a water bottle along, make sure you get enough water before and after the run!
6. Use a foam roller and make sure you stretch!
A foam roller is a great way to increase blood circulation and release muscle tightness. I just started using one and I can honestly tell you that I feel a huge difference. My legs feel lighter.
Stretching is something every runner needs to keep muscles from tightening too much.
7. Use the right shoes for your feet.
Each of us runs a different way, and it’s important to have the right shoes that best match the way you run. The wrong running shoes can lead to pain, and injury.
I've experienced this first hand. When I started running as a part of my weight loss journey, while losing my first 60 pounds, I ran in the wrong shoes. This lead to pain that almost kept me from continuing to exercise. I went to a running store and was outfitted for the right pair. Now, it doesn’t feel like my foot is pounding against the ground.
Running may not be your thing, but if it is, use these tips, especially if you’re running to lose weight. The best advice I can give you is to listen to your body and to try to run consistently.
Over time, and with some education, you’ll find yourself enjoying those long runs. If I can do it, so can you!
Why do you run?