You just got home from your local running store with your first pair of custom-fit running shoes, and you're excited to lace up and head out the door. For the first time, you enjoy the cushiony, springy feel of new running shoes that fit your needs properly, and you pick up the pace for a few minutes. Then, your breathing becomes too labored, you slow the pace, and feel a side stitch starting to nag at your waist. Humbled and disappointed, you slow to a walk and wonder how you'll ever become a runner if you can't even make it 10 blocks without wheezing.
If this story sounds familiar, take heart. This scenario can happen to all runners, even experienced ones who might be coming back to running after a long layoff, or testing the waters after being sidelined by injury. If you're a beginner who is enthusiastic about starting a running regimen but aren't quite clear on how to select and execute a training plan, the following advice can help ease the transition.
The first step is to make an honest assessment of your activity level of the past year. Write your thoughts down in a journal or start a blog; this can be the foundation for a training log that you should update throughout your running journey.
"Start from where you are, and that is different for everyone," says running coach and Active Expert Jenny Hadfield.
How to Find the Best Training Plan for You
1. Don't buy into one-size-fits-all training plans. "There's a tremendous difference in the starting point of someone who has been sedentary all of his life or someone who was athletic when younger and is returning to exercise after a long hiatus," says USA Track & Field and Road Runners Club of America certified running coach Brendan Cournane. "There's also a difference between a swimmer or cyclist who has never been a runner but wants to start running."