How do you become a runner? It’s pretty easy, really. Find a friend.
If you ask pretty much any runner how they were able to become a runner, they’d likely tell you that someone else got them into it.
Yes, running is a habit often kickstarted by peer pressure.
For me, it was my dad.
For my husband, it was me.
Even for elites, like working mom of three Roberta Groner, it was a friend at work who said, “Hey, let’s run this half-marathon together!”
How to become a runner when you hate running.
Running with a friend or other people has lots of benefits. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine found that having a running partner improves the odds that you will stick with it. Running partners help you stay motivated, hold you accountable, make the miles go by (even when they hurt), and help you get out of bed in the morning when you rather hit snooze. In other words, running with a friend helps you love running even when you thought you hated it.
Everyone can be a runner.
Running is unique in that it may be an individual sport but the community is what makes it so wonderful. We are pulling for one another, wanting others—even competitors—to hit their goals. I used to run alone all the time, slipping out whenever I had a window, but when I started running with people I was amazed by how much farther or faster I could go. Long runs flew by and speed workouts pushed me to new limits.
Related: How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome as a Runner
So, how do you get a partner and start running? Here are 3 ways.
1. Find a friend.
The simplest way to start running is to ask someone to start with you. Maybe it is a friend, or a neighbor, or a co-worker. Tell them you’d like to start running and discuss goals. Would you like to aim to run 3 days a week? Do you want to train for a 5k together? Pick your goals, outline a schedule and hold each other accountable.
As moms, the hardest part about becoming a runner is the schedule. Don’t expect it to be easy to find a time that works for both you and your running partner. Expect to make compromises. Being a runner requires discipline which means you may have to wake up way earlier than you ever imagined to log some miles. You may have to be committed to an earlier bedtime for you and your kids. You may have to sacrifice some family time or ask your husband to feed the kids dinner so you can go for a run. Figure out what works best for you and plan ahead! Layout clothes so it is easy to get dressed to run in the early morning hours. Prep your kids or spouse about your plans. Anticipate obstacles and brainstorm ways to overcome them.
Remember that while it may seem inconvenient at first, it will become a habit that is beneficial to your lifelong health and wellbeing as well as your friend’s, and your family’s because it’s creating a healthier, happier mom/spouse.
Related: Overcoming Barriers to Exercise
2. Find a group.
Remember when I said that one of the best parts about running is the community? The running community opens new members with open arms. You don’t need to run a certain pace or distance to be a runner. Anyone who wants to run is a runner. That said, there are running groups in all towns big or small.
How do you find them? There are many ways. A simple google search of “running groups near me” will likely turn up results including a Meetup board. You can also call a local running store. Group runs, including the local track club, will likely be the store’s event calendar. The Moms Run This Town organization may have a chapter in your area. (My goal is to have The Mother Runners group runs all over the nation and world but I got to walk before I run…). Ask an established runner friend about group runs. There may even be a “slow runners” group you can join. Also, if you decide to sign-up for a local race, there is a chance they have training groups.
It can be intimidating to show up to a group run without knowing anyone and how fast they plan to run. Please don’t let that stop you! Tell people you are new (they will be excited!). And, ask upfront what distance or pace people plan to run. If you aren’t there yet, that’s okay! You can run (and walk) alone and bond with people after the run (running groups often end with a post-run happy hour). Just like starting school or a new job, the first time will be the hardest (most awkward) time.
Related: Running hacks that WILL make you faster.
3. Start your own group.
If you don’t want to join an existing group or can’t find someone to start running with you, then cast the net wider. Tap into social media and let people know your goals (another great way to hold yourself accountable) and see if someone wants to join you. I bet someone will! And, if not, once you get started, there is a good chance you may start noticing familiar faces that could be future run partners.
When starting to run, there are a few other steps you can take to set you up for success.
First, pick a goal like running for 30 minutes without stopping, running 3 days a week, or training for a 5k.
Next, find a training plan. (Check out my beginner plans here). Run for time not distance, alternate run and walk days, take walk breaks, and use a training log like the Strava app. (Also, check out these 15 tips to make running easier).
Third, eliminate barriers to stay on schedule. Planning ahead is key! Figure out when and where you will go and who will watch the kids.
Fourth, don’t get discouraged if you miss a day or have a bad run. Bad runs happen to good people all the time!
Finally, get addicted! Running is amazing because it is easy to see your progress week over week. You can run farther, faster, and reap health benefits like weight loss and more energy pretty quickly. No wonder so many people do it!
And mother runners, share this article with your future mother runner friends!
PS-I’d love to help you reach your running goals whether it be to run your first 5k or run competitively! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or check out my Coaching Services page!