Train your brain. After a few weeks, you’ll begin to believe that the whole idea of an exercise high is not a myth. But, it can be hard to get out the door at first. And relying on willpower alone just won’t work. Make a plan. Listen to certain music, pick the most convenient time to work out and pick some rewards that will motivate you to just get up and go. Write out a plan and write it where you can see it, like the bathroom mirror. If the best time to run is the morning, make sure you’ve got an energising music mix to listen to, and a relaxing hot shower to look forward to after you’re done. Create a prerun routine to cue your body and mind that it’s time to go, and repeat it every time you go. Try to get out at the same time of day. Put your workout clothes next to your bed. Put on the same workout music before you go out. Right after your workout, treat yourself to something you genuinely enjoy – like a hot shower, or a smoothie – so your brain associates exercise with an immediate reward.
Relax and run tall. You don’t have to worry too much about form at this point, but there are a few adjustments that can make the running feel more comfortable, says running coach, Janet Hamilton, M.A., C.S.C.S., an exercise physiologist. Take short strides. Keep your elbows flexed at about 90 degrees, and keep your hands relaxed, as if you were holding a piece of paper between your thumb and pointer finger. Envision yourself walking tall, looking straight ahead at the horizon; avoid looking down at your feet.
Take breaks before you need to. Once you’re running, you may feel comfortable enough to skip the walk breaks. But it’s important to take walk breaks before you feel like you need them. This will help fend off fatigue and prevent you from doing too much too soon. By taking walk breaks at the regular intervals that are scheduled for the day, you can ensure that you’ll finish each workout feeling strong.
Keep your kilojoules in balance. Once you start running, it’s important to eat to stay energised while also keeping out the extras that make you feel sluggish and drag you down. At each meal, about half of your kilojoules should come from healthy complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. About one quarter of your kilojoules should come from heart-healthy unsaturated fats, like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. And the remainder of your kilojoules should come from sources of lean protein, like soy, fish, lean poultry, eggs, and beans.
Be patient. Many of the positive changes that are happening when you start exercising won’t be visible in the mirror or on the scale. The weight loss will come if you’re consistent, but it takes time to condition your muscles, ligaments, and tendons, says Susan Paul, head coach of The Track Shack in Orlando. The body makes more capillaries (tiny blood vessels that transfer oxygen and waste products into and out of cells), more mitochondria, (the energy-producing structures in cells), and more enzymes that help the body use fat as fuel. Plus, every time your foot strikes the ground, it stimulates bone growth, so your bones get stronger and denser. “When you’re not patient, you risk doing too much too soon and getting injured,“ says Paul.