Running is a fundamental exercise and is necessary for almost everything we do.
Although fundamental, it takes time to become the runner you want to be – in the meantime, you have to learn the basics. The following is a list of tips that should be useful when starting out.
Run – First Buy Shoes
The idea of running is simple… you need to run. Before you think about it and take action though, be sure that you have a good pair of running shoes. Over time you will learn which running shoes are right for you, but for now, experiment a bit. Decide whether you are going to be running mostly on the road or on trails and purchase the shoe in person so you know what you are buying and how it fits. Do not skimp on price, you will be running in theses shoes for multiple months to come, so purchasing a shoe from Wal-Mart may not be the best option.
This being said, it is also important to integrate minimalist or barefoot running into your routine to improve the strength of your feet. If you walk around or run around barefoot, it is obvious your feet react differently, so why should this not be the case while wearing shoes? Stay in-tuned with your body, and learn to run with proper form before falling into bad habits.
Make a Plan – Don’t Stick With It
When you begin running, it can be a drain on motivation. In order to keep up the work, be sure to put together a rough training plan that lays out when you are going to run, for how long you will run, what you will be doing for your run, and finally where you will run. By creating a rough plan, you will have escaped the potential excuses and promised yourself that you will run.
Ultimately, as time goes by and running becomes more familiar to you, your plan will generally become a reference that you follow, write down what you actually did, write down your feelings about the workout, and write whatever else that may be important to your training and yourself. If you are training alone or in a group, your training plan can change constantly based on whether you are healthy, if you missed a workout, and other reasons.
Don’t Give Up – Run Through and Try to keep it Frequent
It has been researched and tested that creating an automatic habit takes on average 66 days. (Read about the study here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0908/09080401). Developing a habit for running may not take 66 days per se, but it will definitely feel as though it is taking a long time. The trick is to determine what you will be doing and when you will be doing it ahead of time so as to make a promise to yourself that you will complete your workout.
This being said, as you begin running, you will also be introduced to multiple running related injuries including, and most frequently for newer runners, shin splints. With injuries come recovery time which can eat into your running frequency. As long as you keep your recovery days active (designating time for stretching, light and short jogging, pool and swimming work, etc.), you will definitely come back with lots of motivation.
Warm up and Cool down – Use These to Your Advantage
Two of the most important parts of your run are how you prepare and how you finish. Your warm up can provide a variety of benefits that will make you a better runner and help your body get into the running mood. Firstly, your warm up should consist of a short quarter to half mile jog that will help silently boost your weekly mileage. Second, you will want to put together a list of dynamic stretches and exercises (butt-kicks, leg-lifts, lunges, leg swings, backwards running, etc.) that will keep you warmed up as you stretch and help strengthen muscles that are generally weaker.
After your run, you will want to get into the habit of performing cool down exercises and stretches to release lactic acid buildup in your muscles and help prevent soreness. Generally, you will want to run 2 to 10 strides (beginning at a jog and increasing your speed towards 90% and then decreasing over 50 meters), static stretching (stretching your muscles by holding a stretch for an extended period of time), and ideally performing an abdominal exercise routine.
Walk – First Run
As you begin your running career or as you progress through your daily runs, you may be prompted by your body to walk instead. First things first, walking is not a bad thing to do, but you will be surprised at how far you can push your body without harming yourself. As you begin your workout, always start out in a run and try to challenge yourself to see how far you can go. If you decide the time is right to begin walking, do so with a plan. A good plan may be to run past two telephone poles and walk past one telephone pole until the completion of your workout.
Pay Attention to Your Body – Stay Safe and Injury Free
Running can put a huge amount of stress on your body, so taking care of yourself and making sure you catch injury prone areas before they become injuries is important. When you feel something uncomfortable, stop doing it and ask someone about it. During this time, it is generally best to stay off of your legs or your injured area and focus on cross training exercises – such as swimming, biking, and home exercise routines such as P90x – that take stress off of injured areas.
Eat and Drink – Change Your Habits
Eating and drinking right while on a running schedule is important in keeping your energy levels high and staying hydrated while exercising. Running tends to burn a lot of carbohydrates which you will want to replenish daily. If your carbohydrates in your body are not replenished after your run, your next workout will feel sluggish and tough to complete. Drinking has a similar effect – if you do not drink enough you will be dehydrated upon your next workout and you will feel sluggish and uncomfortable.
Lift Some Weights – In the Weight Room
Lifting weights can be very helpful to runners who are looking to get faster and go farther. Running by itself focuses on some leg muscles more than others. To compensate for lack of muscle in parts of your leg or in order to accelerate your progress, introduce weight lifting into your weekly routine. Lifting weights at least once a week can dramatically improve your daily performance.