What do
JLo, Pink, Gwyneth, Oprah and Fergie all have in common? They’re all celebs who run to stay in shape as part of their workout routines. Running’s popularity is growing each year — with the half-marathon distance exploding; the number of people who have raced this distance of 21.1k has nearly doubled in the last decade according to Runner’s World. And you, too, can become part of this not-very-exclusive runners club.

Why do we think you even want to become a runner? We’re betting on this: don’t you admire those long, lean bods as runners race on by you on the sidewalk, sweaty and glowing with energy? And if that physique and glow is not enough to entice you, let’s not forget you get to sport some slick gear while working on your cardio fitness when your join the runners club. So squash those doubts that have kept you on your chaise longue up until now and make this the year you become a runner and get it into your regular workout routines. Here are 8 steps that will transform you from mere spectator to one spectacular race finish by summer’s end.

1. Go shoe shopping, and we don’t mean running to the Choos like you usually do. Head to a store that specializes in running so your gait can be assessed (as to how your foot strikes the ground as your run) and you get fitted with the proper type of shoe for running. Focus on fit and comfort rather than colours and aesthetic details.

To become a runner, walk. The great news is that to become a runner, you should also start by incorporating that activity you do every day: walking. For absolute beginners, run for one minute and then walk for one minute. Over time, you can add 30 seconds to your run intervals, while maintaining a one-minute walk break, building up to a 10-minute run (you’ll commonly hear this called running 10s and 1s, as in run 10 minutes, walk one minute). Some runners will run continuously but many maintain the 10s and 1s training as it becomes their
training regimen.

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3. Be a regular — runner, that is. A key to improving your running is to make sure you go out to run about three to four times a week. If you’re only managing to lace up for one run a week, your endurance and fitness will never improve. Plan your runs for the week ahead by looking at your calendar and figuring out when you can fit it in — or else you’ll find the whole week has flown by and you haven’t run at all.

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4. Make friends (in real life or virtually). If there’s one way to force yourself to commit to getting out for a run is knowing that a running buddy is waiting in their gear on the corner for you to run together. Don’t know any runners? Join a run club or connect with people (even if only virtually through social media and apps such as Nike Running). You may even find your competitive spirit getting sparked: "Oh, runnergirl1990 has logged more kilometres than I have this week, I’d better catch up!"

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5. Develop a drinking habit. Seriously! With water — did you think we meant something else. Ensuring you’re well hydrated is key when you’re running, especially so in these hot summer months. Always bring a bottle of water with you and sip it every 10 minutes or so. Don’t wait until you actually feel thirsty, because by that point you are dehydrated. If you plan to be running for more than 45 minutes, switch to a sports drink (or bring along some fuel such as sport gels) so you replenish electrolytes that you’ve lost in your perspiration.

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6. Practice your gift of gab. Your boyfriend might think you can chit chat endlessly — now you can use your chatty ways to help regulate your running pace. On a regular run, you can pace yourself to be in the right zone aerobically by trying the talk test, that is, being able to carry a conversation while you run. If you can only eke out a few words because you’re so out of breath, then you should slow down.

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7. Treat yourself. Getting motivated is always easier when there’s a carrot dangling in front of you, is it not? Whether it’s some Isabel Marant booties, or some chic new fitness gear (why not make it something that’ll make you want to run more, after all), have a reward in mind for yourself for when you reach your running goal, whether that’s running 5k or running three times a week every week until September.

8. Change your workout focus once a week. As a beginner, you can stick to running at your easy pace at which you can chat. But as you adapt to the sport, in order to improve your running, you’ll have to incorporate different types of running, namely speed work and hills training. Speed work you can do on a track or by running timed intervals at which you run comfortably hard (ie. you should not be able to gossip about last night’s episode of Scandal as you do speed work). Hills training calls for, you guessed it, running up and down hills. Hills are good for your running regimen as they help build your lower leg and quad strength, while making your stride faster and boosting your cardio fitness, all of which will help make you a faster and stronger runner.

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