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Running Evolution’s Couch to 5K classes help get you from the couch to the finish line of a 5K. (Image: Colin Bishop/Running Evolution)

The Beginner's Guide to Running

The New Year is here and those resolutions are staring us right in the face. Many of us have a resolution of getting back into shape with a few having aspirations of becoming the next Steve Prefontaine. While those might be lofty dreams, Beth Baker of Running Evolution recently slowed down to share her tips for beginning a running routine with Seattle Refined.

As a mother of two, I don't often have time for the long runs that I used to do. I barely have time to make a jaunt around Greenlake some days. When I was a new Mom of one baby, I trained for a half marathon. My daughter loved riding in the stroller and would giggle no matter how fast or slow I went. Then I had my second child and running with a double stroller was tough and my oldest was no longer content to sit while I ran. Running fell by the wayside but I've been thinking about capturing my running spirit again. I shared all of my running woes with Baker when we sat down to talk and I left ready to run and full of inspiration.

Now I just need to remember where I left my running shoes or maybe I should just buy new ones, that is one of Baker's tips! Running on old, worn-out shoes can lead to problems down the road. Treat yourself with a new pair of running shoes before following the rest of Baker's running tips below.

Beth Baker's Beginning Guide to Running Tips:

1. Accept Where You Are Now Baker emphasized that one should accept their current fitness level and run with it. "You are fast for you," Baker added. "Own it!" You might be returning to running after taking a few years off or starting up a running routine for the first time so accepting your current fitness level can only lead to success. *Disclaimer: This is the standard disclaimer area where we say that you will want to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine. It's a great way to find out your current fitness level too!

2. Make a Schedule - "Schedule everything out," suggests Baker. "Have a game plan and put yourself on the list." Putting yourself on the schedule and carving out time for yourself is the biggest hurdle. Baker strongly emphasized making your running time, your own time. Signing up for a running group is another great way to make time for running. Knowing that you have signed up for a run at a set time can make it harder to skip out on your workout. I also find that paying for a group means that I'll show up because I hate to waste money.

3. Get Support - Tip #2 leads into this tip! Finding a support buddy or as Baker calls them, "wing women" is an important tool for staying accountable. Having someone who is counting on you to go out on a run, makes it so much easier to grab your running shoes and head out for a jog. The running group is great for support too. You might find a new friend who runs at just your pace (mine is snail pace) who appreciates the support you bring to the group.

4. Start SLOW - It's cold out there so it is extra important to start out slow. "Your body goes into a rebellion in the cold," said Baker. A cold body feels too stiff to run but a body that is slowly warmed up will have a successful run. Also don't waste all your energy going out too fast. You'll waste precious strength and end up with a crappy run. Start slow and build up your pace at a comfortable level. Baker's Couch to 5K groups start out running a 1/2 mile and work up to a full 5K. It's less intimidation and more inspiration. Baker said that her classes all run at a conversational pace to get started which helps build a strong community.

5. Sign Up For a 5K! - Beth suggested signing up for a 5K first and then figuring out your running plan. Seattle is full of awesome 5K races and most are full of fun activities to partake in before and after the race. Often times you even get a t-shirt to tout your successes. A 5K also provides a nice end goal for your new running routine. You won't want to quit after your first race but it will give you something to strive toward.

6. Listen to Music (or Podcasts) - Running can often give you a "flight or flight response," said Baker. "It's super primal. If you have something to listen, it helps calm that feeling down." Music can provide a bit of distraction from the drudgery of running in the beginning. Having an inspirational playlist (Eye of the Tiger, anyone?) makes one feel like they are the hero of their own workout. Podcasts can also help you multitask as you get into better shape. You can learn more about everything from current events to in-depth investigations and yes, there are even podcasts about running if you want to get meta during your workout.

Running Evolution is a non-competitive running group which offers Couch to 5K classes, Boot Camps and 1/2 marathon training groups. Beth's over 10 years of running couching has given her insight into how best to train and encourage people along their running journey. Spots are currently available in Running Evolution's Couch to 5K, half-marathon and boot camps with both day and night time options.

Former Couch to 5K participant, Kathleen Bennett Brennan strongly recommends Running Evolution for anyone interested in running. "The whole vibe of the group felt very supportive. She wants you to be serious about it but it's all very positive," said Brennan. "It's about accountability and making a commitment. You are making a commitment to yourself. The group helps you with that accountability."