Great! So you started running! You probably already know that this great sport, which we call running provides us with a wide variety of health & wellness benefits for everyone in all ability levels. You’re now a member of an exclusive club taking advantage of running for fitness, wellness, and overall body health. But wait! Easy, Tiger. You’ll want to ease into a safe, comfortable routine by following this list which offers several tips for those of you who are new runners, as well as seasoned veterans coming back to the sport and hitting the pavement on a regular basis.
Seek Medical Clearance – Many athletes such as yourself consider running as a natural process, so why would medical clearance be deemed necessary? The fact is, running can put a lot of stress on the cardiovascular system, joints, and muscles. Your personal doctor can provide insight into any potential health risks associated with long distance running.
Buy the Right Shoes and Gear – If you ever needed an excuse to go shopping, this is it! Experienced runners understand the need for quality gear. Now, this doesn’t mean purchasing the most expensive shoes, or flashy high-tech clothing. We’re talking about selecting proper-fitting shoes and lightweight, performance-based running apparel. Pay special attention to shoes. If there’s one area to splurge… shoes are it! There are some great benefits to trying on shoes at a local running store and taking a quick jaunt around the parking lot. Another option is to shop from the comfort of your own couch, Brooks has a handy Shoe Finder to guide you to your sole-mate.
Take it Easy at First – Whether you’re a naturally gifted athlete, or complete new runner, take it nice and easy at first. Eliminate any temptation to “GO ALL OUT!” … At least for the first few weeks. Although running is an amazing exercise in its own right, it can definitely introduce a hefty jolt to your system if your intensity level is way too high to start. Short distances, interval training, or even briskly walking is a great way to begin your training routine.
Run With a Group – I mean really. Who doesn’t like working out with friends? Running with a group is one of the best ways for getting acquainted and loving the sport of running. Finding friends with the same ability level not only can keep you motivated, but you forge stronger bonds with your running group as your training progresses. The end result is that you all get strong together!
Consistency, and Always Using Proper Technique – Always train with the mindset of quality over quantity. The number of miles you run is negligible if you’ve been using bad form. Loose technique, or running with bad form can result in sore feet and joints, not to mention all that wasted energy. When you’re out there starting your training routines with smaller distances, try running with concise, controlled body movements. Land on the middle of the foot instead of on the toes, or the heel. Lastly, your arms naturally like to live at about a 90-degree angle by your side, so let them do their thing!
Stretching and Cooling Down – While there may be studies which disprove the effectiveness of stretching. We believe for beginners new to running, stretching before and after any hard running effort is absolutely vital – especially as you increase your mileage. Stretching doesn’t need to take forever, just 5-10 minutes of dedicated time can minimize sore muscles, resulting in decreased recovery time. Follow this link HERE to learn some stretches from the man himself, Meb Keflezighi. Cool downs are also an important training step that is often missed by many runners. Staying disciplined in both stretching and cooling down will keep you fresher tomorrow and better prepared for all those races you’ve got planned with your friends!
Keep a Journal – One of the most rewarding activities some runners have is keeping a journal of all of their activities. While some of you may cringe when it comes to creative writing, keeping a journal helps those who are new runners in two ways. First, it will keep you motivated. Reading how you’ve crushed your goals a month ago will only spur you on to create more goals for yourself – effectively crushing those as well! Second, once you develop a habit of recording your training routines, you can effectively tweak what you may or may not have done right when meeting your goals. Think of it as a way of keeping your training organized and efficient.
There is no doubt that running can deliver incredible health benefits – whether you are a new runner or a seasoned veteran. If this is your first introduction into running, or it has been quite some time since you last participated, be sure you follow the steps outlined above to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. Welcome to the club!