Running. It’s such a simple concept; just strap on a pair of shoes and head out the door. But if it is that easy, why are there monthly magazines and countless articles devoted entirely to it? Although it is a simple concept, there are a few things beginner runners should keep in mind to start a successful, safe journey into the world of running, especially if you’re overweight or out of shape. I can tell you from experience that you can enjoy, or at least reap the benefits from a running program if you start out slow and smart. Here are some tips to help get you started.
1. Try a run/walk program. A great beginning approach is a program that starts with short segments of running with longer segments of walking. These programs help you increase your endurance over time as the running segments get longer and walking segments get shorter. Runner’s World has a nice beginner program. My personal favorite is Couch to 5K – another great beginner program that you can follow. You can also download the C25K app for your smart phone. One of the great things about the app is that while you listen to music or talk on the phone and the app will chime in and tell you when to switch from walking to running and back again. You can even link it to the My Fitness Pal app.
2. Pass the talk test. Start off at an easy pace. You should be able to carry on a conversation while breathing fairly easily. Don’t worry about your speed yet. It’s more important to get into the habit safely.
3. Take short steps. Regardless of how much cushion is in the heel of your shoes, your body isn’t designed to land on it while running. Take short enough steps to land in the middle of your foot which will use your body’s natural shock absorbers.
4. Use proper form. Improper form can cause pain in your shoulders, neck and back. Try to keep your arms at a 90 degree angle with your hands at waist level. Use good posture with your head up, shoulders level & back straight.
5. Breathe through your nose and mouth to make sure you’re getting enough oxygen to your muscles. According to By Christine Luff, Running & Jogging Expert, this will help prevent side stitches which is a common for many new runners.
6. Gradually increase your mileage. In Christine Luff’s article for about health she states “New runners sometimes get too enthusiastic and anxious to get started and end up increasing their mileage too quickly — which can lead to injury. Don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% each week. By building up slowly, you can save yourself pain and frustration, and still reach your goals. Use common sense and follow a beginner training schedule determine how much you should be running. If you’d like to do more, you could always supplement your running with cross-training exercises such as swimming or biking.”
7. Join a running group. Having a balance between solo and group runs can increase your performance. Check out this article from Runner’s World to learn more about the benefits of group run.
8. Maintain energy and hydration for your run. According to the article Couch to 5K: tips for new runners, “It’s important to have energy for your run, but don’t overdo it. Avoid having a large meal within two hours of your run. You need blood to be in your muscles, not your digestive system. However, a light snack, such as a banana, before running is fine.” And the article recommends staying hydrated. If you are drinking enough water throughout the day, this shouldn’t be a problem. Some people like to run with a water bottle so they can drink when they get thirsty. Just don’t drink too much during your run.
9. Warm up and cool down. Although there is some debate whether you should stretch before a run, all the articles I have read say that warming up with a brisk walk is a must. Couch to 5K states “For a warm-down, the worst thing you can do is stop running and immediately sit down, so keep walking until you’re fully recovered.”
10. Invest in a pair of running shoes that are right for your needs. There are a lot of things out there we can skimp on. Running shoes is not one of them. To learn more, check out the article How To Pick Out Running Shoes.
What has worked for you? We would love for you to share your success story, we’re all in this together!
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