Intro to Running For Non-Runners – First Bitterness, Then Sweetness

There’s a Chinese proverb 先苦后甜 (first bitterness, then sweetness) that describes running perfectly for me. I’m not a runner. Never have been and never will be. Yet I still find myself clocking 10-15km per week.  Some may see those numbers and think “wow I haven’t run that much since high school gym class”.  There are also others that would say “what’s the big deal?  I do 3-4x that in a week”.

Well it is kind of a big deal for me because I really dislike running. The benefits of running can’t be denied though:

  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Stronger leg muscles
  • Helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
  • Stronger bones and joints
  • Boosts your confidence as you start looking leaner and more svelte

Running for non-runners – why I started running

I started running because I didn’t want to be a low energy dad. I wanted to be up for anything and everything my kid wanted to do. And I wanted to keep up into my 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond even.  I never want to be the dad that sends our live-in helper to teach our son how to ride a bike or play basketball. I have another post that you can check out for all my fitness tips and ways for millennial dads to keep fit. Running is a major point there.

feet with nike shoes running up steps

Get over the hump and become a semi-runner

So how should you get started?  Here are a few helpful hints that I found make the time spent running pass much quicker. These tips help get you out for a run when you don’t really feel like it and keep you motivated to push yourself while running:

Find new enjoyable routes and mix it up

Don’t just use a treadmill because it’ll get boring fast. If it’s boring, you’ll probably quit before long and the goal is to make this running thing a habit. Hong Kong has some great running routes including Bowen Road, Causeway Bay Sports Ground, and Quarry Bay Promenade just to name a few. Try them out and soak in the scenery. It’ll make the time pass a lot quicker. Use a treadmill when the weather is bad or if you’re feeling extra lazy that day.

Get some gear to keep your mind off the run

Find some good running headphones and a good playlist or audiobook. When running, it’s best to keep your mind off the actual run.  Thoughts like “when will this be over” will creep into your head. We don’t want that. There are a few popular playlists I like on Spotify such as Cardio or Motivation Mix. They’re constantly updated with the latest tracks so they never get boring. Or if you want to kill two birds with one stone, you can opt for an audiobook.  You’ll learn something while getting fit.Some of my more recent pleasurable reads were Grit by Angela Duckworth and The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson.

Podcasts work for some while exercising. I use the Pocket Casts app to organize my podcasts but I usually turn to music or audiobooks on my runs. For headphones, I’ve been using the Bose QuietComfort running headphones. They stay in my ear for the duration of my run and don’t pop out like other headphones. Nothing’s more annoying then adjusting your headphones repeatedly while int he middle of a run. I’ve also heard good things about the Powerbeats Pro as being a great pair of running headphones. 

man running down wet road at sunset

Comfy new kicks to stay injury free

Footwear is important to ensure comfort and avoid injury. Don’t just hit the trails with your 10 year old New Balance dad shoes.  Expert runners recommend you go into a specialty store and get your gait analyzed. Terms like overpronation and underpronation might get thrown around. This is a bit advanced for your average new runner. If you’re reading this you’re probably not a running enthusiast and this is just overkill. Start with a pair of running shoes that generally get positive reviews like the Adidas Ultraboost 19 or the Brooks Ghost 11.

If you get injured while running you’ll need time to recover. This means time spent not running and this could really derail your new running hobby.  A good pair of shoes will help prevent injury and make it a lot easier on your feetOnce running has become a part of your life you can upgrade to something nicer. Perhaps the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%. It did help Eliud Kipchoge break the marathon world record after all. 

Track your progress and challenge yourself

Use an app to track your progress.  This is the best way to improve and motivate yourself.  Nothing feels better than breaking your previous 1K or 5K fastest time. Or hitting milestones like 100K or 500K total distance run on your app. It’s almost like a real life video game. Almost. At least that’s what I tell myself.  Try Map My Run or Nike Run Club to track your progress on your running journey.

It’s not all about bench press and bicep curls

We millennial dads need to work on our cardio too. In the long run (pun intended) it will pay dividends. 

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