How To Become A Runner: Wisdom From a Backpacker Turned Marathoner

Written by LindseyP

Have you thought about running? At one point in time, most of us think something about running. For a long time, I wanted to try it but I thought I was not the “running type.” My imagination portrayed the “running type” as a Usain Bolt type figure: as lean as humanly possible and fast like a cheetah. The image of the “running type” is a pretty common stereotype thanks to the Olympics, Nike commercials, and general media coverage of the sport. I am here to tell you that you can become a runner if it is in your heart to dream it. Here’s how:


         Have you ever done something where you didn’t prepare very well and the results were disastrous? Running can be like that without preparation. Preparation in running involves starting slow and working up to faster speeds and longer distances through training and conditioning. Listen to your body to learn when to push yourself and when to rest. Any sport involves risk of injury. When running, going too fast or too far before you are ready greatly increases your risk. It’s ok to be slow. Find a pace that is best suited for you.


Feeling like you are running for a purpose will give you the motivation to stay on track with your training. For some, having a personal goal is enough to get you started. If you need a little extra motivation, there are a number of charities you can partner with. Runner’s World has a comprehensive list that will help you get started. Running for a good cause, especially one that is personally significant to you, will inspire you even on tough days.


Most running events have hundreds or even thousands of participants. Prizes are given for the best overall time in addition to first, second, or third in each age group. This typically equates to less than one percent of the runners in the event placing, or “winning.” The only time that matters is your own. The only person you have to beat is yourself. A common mantra amongst Appalachian Trail hikers is, “hike your own hike?”. I introduce you to the runner’s version: “run your own race.” Just putting yourself out there and pursuing a new goal is a success in and of itself. Celebrate your accomplishments!


I cannot emphasize enough the importance of investing in a great pair of running shoes, especially if you are pursuing longer distances. Visit a local running store where the sales representatives are knowledgeable in gait analysis and can help determine the best shoe for you. When my gait was analyzed I learned about pronation and how my mechanics were best suited for a well-supported shoe. This change was monumental: my new shoes felt like clouds and I have continued with the same make/model to this day. Don’t skimp on this detail. Your feet will carry you far if you treat them well.


The running community is one of the most inclusive outdoor sporting communities I have ever become a part of. The people are all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and speeds. Joining a run group is a great way to expose yourself to the other runners around you and make some new friends. You’ll find most group runs are a banquet of encouragement in the form of high fives, woohoo’s, and way to go’s. Try to find a group close to home or work, something you don’t have to go out of your way to attend.


The most important aspect of any workout routine is creating a routine. Is your workout routine something you can commit too? Try making your workouts fun so you look forward to them. If you are more competitive, you can join a training team that will offer you professional coaching and great support. If the social aspect is more appealing to you, a run that starts and ends at restaurants or breweries may better suit your taste. The combination of fun and exercise will keep you on the run.


Any goal can be achieved with planning, training, conditioning, patience, and a little bit of luck. What is your run goal? Whatever it is, there are endless resources to help you achieve it. For many years, I was only interested in backpacking and hiking. I would spend weeks backpacking the Appalachian Trail but could not fathom completing a running event. I signed up for my first 5k in 2010. In 2012, I ran my first half marathon. In June of 2015, I finished the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska on my twenty-sixth birthday. In five years time, I went from not running at all to becoming a marathoner. Success in your goals comes from building a solid foundation and becoming confident in your ability. If you find what works best for you, the sky is the limit.



About the author


I am an adventurous spirit who believes in the power of kindness and helping others. I love spending time in nature. My free time is filled backpacking, running, hiking, watching baseball, and drinking craft beer. I am challenging myself to master the art of photography. My home base is currently Virginia but I travel West to fill my heart with mountains regularly.

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