For as long as I could remember, I never liked running. When I was in army, the 2.4km run was one of my most dreaded activity, second only to the mandatory Chin-ups before breakfast.
Today, this is no longer the case. Ever since I started on the new regime, I find myself running three to five times a week. I’m convinced it’s the effect of endorphins on the body and the mind, but I think we have to give credit to how we started building this habit.
If you’re thinking of starting this new exercise, I have a one important tip for you — Start on a treadmill.
Yes, I did say treadmill, the contraption that many seasoned runners shun and even despise (“dreadmill”). However, this machine offers a few advantages for a beginner:
Pace Control – You have exact control over how fast you run, and for a start, you should run at a pace where you can still hold a normal conversation. If you’re putting too much effort trying to catch your breath, you’re going too fast and you can just slow it down easily and quickly.
Stats – Distance and time are important indicators of progress, and some machines even come with a heart rate monitor. Having the stats of your run will help you plan your weekly increments. My first run was around 5.5km/h for 30 minutes, and we increased this by 0.5km/h every week.
Less Distractions – On the treadmill, there are no cars or people to avoid and no awkward jogging-on-the-spot-at-the-red-light. You just plug in your music, set your pace and go. In that time, you can zone out or think about the rest of your day and not worry about being run over. You can also eliminate any weather effects from your run.
Access to a Shower – This was one of the most important reason for me. Assuming your treadmill is in the gym, having a shower after a run is paramount if you have somewhere else to go after. This means you’re a lot more flexible, and could probably squeeze in a run before going to work in the mornings.
There are many theories on how to build a new habit but eliminating any possible excuses was a good way to start for me. A treadmill offers the consistency, control and predictability that is so helpful for a new runner. After we’re more comfortable, then we can start pounding the pavement but that’s a post for another day!