Running is the new thing. People who never dreamed they would be runners are hammering out 5Ks and training for half-marathons. I am included in this recent running phenomenon. I could never run the full-mile test in gym class, but in the past couple of years I caught the running bug. I have learned a few running tips since I started. You might want to check these out if you are beginning to run yourself.
Running Tip #1: Safety first.
Make sure to check with your doctor if you have any medical conditions that might prevent you from running safely.
Running Tip #2: Get some quality running shoes.
Nothing is worse than shin splints. Shin splints tend to happen when you do not have proper running shoes. You will probably already be sore starting a new exercise, but you do not want to add insult to injury by lacing up with the wrong footwear.
Running Tip #3: Start slow.
There is no need to try to run 10 miles on your first run. Try the five on, five off method. Run for five minutes and walk for five minutes, for a total of 30 minutes. After a couple of weeks, you can slowly increase the running time and decrease the walking time.
Running Tip #4: Know that it is okay to walk.
It drives me nuts when new runners have a goal of “running x miles without stopping.” What they mean is, they don’t want to “stop” and walk during their run. The thing is, it is completely okay to walk. During the half-marathon I ran in May, I walked all of the water stations and I was glad I did. Walking during your running allows your body to take a small break and build up energy for your muscles to use while running. This method helps to prevent injuries that can easily occur while running long distances.
Running Tip #5: Sign up for a race.
There is nothing more motivating than a race. When you know that you have already spent the money and will have to be able to physically run x number of miles on that day, it is easier to get out the door and complete your training.
Running Tip #6: Be sure to keep up with your strength-training and cross-training.
If you only perform one exercise over and over and over, the muscles you are not using, the supporting muscles, will become weak. These weakened muscles that are needed to support the main running muscles leave you wide open for injury. Get in strength-training sessions twice a week. Also make sure to do cross-training such as biking, stairs, or elliptical training once or twice a week to prevent injury.
Running Tip #7: Design a training plan.
If you are signed up for a race, you will need a plan. You have to run, strength-train, cross-train and have rest days each week, so it is best to come up with a way to accomplish all of this. I have always used Hal Higdon training plans since they are designed by experts. You can print them out and check off each day or even download them to your phone. They even have running training apps you can download to your phone.
Running Tip #8: Figure out your proper fueling.
Every body is different. Some runners are not able to eat certain foods right before running, while others have iron stomachs that never get sick. A basic rule of thumb is to eat something with carbohydrates an hour before running (it can even be a meal if you can stomach it), then eat more carbohydrates plus protein to replenish the energy lost when running within 30 minutes of finishing your run. When you are running for over an hour, you should consider taking Gatorade or something similar to replenish the sodium and potassium lost through sweat. If you are running over 90 minutes, it is time to consider refueling with a mixture of carbohydrates, sodium and potassium.
Running Tip #9: Hydrate properly.
This is another one where it depends on your body. Most bodies require hydration every 30 minutes of exercise. Hydration during running also depends on the weather. Is it dry? Is it humid? Are you sweating like a maniac upon walking out your front door? I always have water with me and take small sips when I feel thirsty to ensure I do not get dehydrated.
Running Tip #10: Listen to your body.
If you are so sore you can hardly walk, maybe sit it out for a day or two. If you feel like you can run a little further than you planned, try it out! That is part of the fun of running—testing yourself.
Running Tip #11: Lastly, have fun.
It is hard to get motivated to exercise when you are not enjoying it. Figure out the way you enjoy running the most and stick with it. If you hit a running rut, try running with a friend, alternating between the treadmill and the outdoors, find a new trail, or even take a break to come back refreshed. The bottom line is: you do not have to run. You should exercise the way you like and the way that is safe for you. If running proves to be your choice of exercise, then join the club and run your heart out!