When I first started running, I followed the Couch to 5K plan like a lot of other folks. I hated it. I was miserable and decided running was boring.
Then I joined a group training program for beginners at my local running club. I was miserable, and was now convinced that running was boring. But at least I had my friends around to keep me company, so I kept going.
One day at a group run, a friend made a passing comment. “Let’s get this over with. The first mile is always the hardest.”
I’d never heard this before. At this point, the running portions of my training totaled about a mile, which meant that the majority of my training effort was within that difficult first mile.
No wonder I thought running was miserable and boring.
I went back to the Couch to 5K program, and it turns out that most people won’t actually run/jog a full mile until week 5 or 6. And the very last workout is a 25 minute jog, so if you’re lucky you’ll get three miles in, but I would venture a guess that most new runners are closer to 1 or 2 miles in that time.
In other words, you’re going to be spending a lot of time feeling bad.
As this article from Women’s Running points out, it takes about a mile for the best parts of running–finding your pace, settling into a mental groove, and endorphin delivery–to kick in. If you find yourself discouraged because suffering through the first mile makes up the majority of your miles, here’s some advice:
Embrace the misery
Yes, you know the first mile sucks. Sit with that misery and then let it go. Get through the mile anyway. You, friend, are really strengthening your resilience muscle.
Try a longer warm up
If you know that it takes you 10-15 minutes to find your groove, lengthen your walking warm up or add dynamic stretches to your pre-run routine.
This isn’t an option for everyone, but you could add another mile to your training routine and start officially at mile 2. If you’re training for a race, this may not work in your favor all the time, but if you want those sweet, sweet endorphins, you may have to–literally–go the extra mile.
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