Take a stroll on the Vancouver seawall and I can almost guarantee that you will see at least one runner whizzing by you.
That’s no surprise as Vancouver is a fantastic place to run, thanks in part to the abundance of scenery our city has to offer. But how do you start? Trying something new can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t need to be the best, having fun is all that counts.
Running is a great way to get fit, meet new friends, and get involved in the community. The first few runs may not feel the best, but keep at it and see how you improve. I suggest getting a fitness tracker on your phone to monitor your workout. That is an easy way to keep track of your progress. Seeing improvement will encourage you to run longer and faster, just to see what you’re capable of. I do understand that running isn’t for everyone. If after a few tries, you still don’t like it, move on and find something else that you’re passionate about.
This sport isn’t all about personal bests. Making friends is a huge perk. Whether you’re seriously training for a race or just doing it for fun, running friends keep us accountable and entertained. The support you get from other runners is empowering. Off the course, you can also meet a lot of people while volunteering. Races rely heavily on volunteers so there are many opportunities to give back to the sport you love.
Lastly, achieving a goal you once thought impossible is one of the best motivators. For some people, it’s a 5 km race. For others, it’s a 100 miler. Either way, the journey towards that goal and the feeling of triumph when you do achieve it is worth all the effort.
If you have a pair of dusty 10-year-old runners, don’t even think about using them. Your feet need proper support and shoes that are past their prime will only lead to discomfort and injury. Head to your nearest running store and get fitted. Each person’s foot is different, so your friend’s shoes may not work best for your feet. It’s important to try several pairs before purchasing. You could be spending hours at a time in these shoes, you need to get a pair that will keep you happy and focused on your training.
Now that you’ve got shoes, you need to dress for the weather. It’s good to have these items in your closet so you can run in any condition: technical t-shirt or singlet (no cotton, trust me), shorts, leggings, long-sleeved shirt, breathable rain jacket, hat, gloves, socks, and a toque. In colder months, layer up and use traction devices if icy; when it’s hot, bring a water bottle. Later on your running journey, you’ll probably end up splurging on a running watch. It’s definitely a worthwhile investment.
Planning a route is as easy as heading out the door, running one way and heading straight back. However, variety is the spice of life and that’s very true for running. Running the same route repeatedly can be quite boring. Explore parts of the city you haven’t run before and you might discover a hidden gem. If you like scenery, the seawall and local trails are calling your name. Stanley Park is very accessible by bus and you can get a pretty good hill workout on its trail network.
If you don’t want to plan a route, you can join various running clubs in the city. There’s a club run happening almost every day of the week. Among the most active ones are the East Van Run Crew, West Van Run, Fraser Street Run Club, VRC Flight Crew, Mile 2 Marathon, Forerunners and the Running Room. This is your chance to meet other like-minded people to train with and the run organizers usually have a pre-planned route. All you have to do is show up and follow the group. Best of all, an après-run beer or coffee is the norm. Isn’t this really the reason we show up?
Getting out of bed is sometimes the hardest thing to do, even for a frequent runner like myself. The rain is enough to keep people indoors. The most effective way to get out the door is to meet up with a friend. Disappointing them would be out of the question so you’re forced to put the jacket on and run. Surprisingly, it usually ends up being a great time anyway since the rain can be quite refreshing and you’ve got a friend to share the experience with. Eventually you’ll learn to tolerate or even love the rain. If you simply cannot deal with the elements, there’s nothing wrong with hitting the gym and running on a treadmill.
If you’re on your own, think about how you’d feel if you missed a workout. Personally, I feel awful if I miss a workout. I feel guilty and perform worse the next time I start running. Let the potential fitness increase be your motivation to get out and do something.
Hope this gets you started on your running journey. Work hard, have fun, and don’t forget to listen to your body.