Hit The Ground Running: Beginner’s Guide
There are many reasons people get involved with running. Whatever your reason – identify it. Is it stress relief? To feel better? To lose weight? Figure out why it’s important to you before you make a change with exercise. For me, running has always been my exercise of choice; my mode of stress relief. It’s how I decompress, distract myself, and how I feel good inside and out. Find your “why” first, then move forward.
I don’t suggest starting with a 5-mile trail run if you’ve never been into running. Start slow (literally). Begin by walking 15 minutes every other day. Once you feel comfortable with that, amp up your pace. Consciously move your legs faster. If you’re on a treadmill raise the incline. When you walk at 3 or 4 mph at level 15 on the incline, you will be cruising and fighting to keep your feet moving forward. This is a great way to build up strength, endurance and burn even more calories.
Another idea to ease into running is with something I like to call a “Couch to 5k” program. There are many safe and effective programs and apps out there to help you get started. Making a commitment to 2-3 days of fast walking or running is the best way to build up safely. As you increase frequency or intensity, I suggest focusing on the amount of time you are running, not necessarily the mileage. The mileage will start to take care of itself as you continue running consistently.
“Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running.” -Sarah Condor
You don’t need specific clothing to run. Comfortable is the only prerequisite. Putting something on your body that you feel good in will set the tone for your run. As for sneakers, there are some guidelines you should follow and some recommendations I will make. I strongly suggest that you get your running shoes fitted by someone at a shoe store that can analyze the way you walk. This will determine the best shoes for fit, comfort, support, and exercise level. Some great brands for running shoes that will take care of your feet and reduce the risk of pain/injury: ASICS, Brooks, Mizuno, and New Balance. Running shoes are not cheap, but they’re a necessary investment to make your running endeavors more comfortable and effective.
One other item I recommend is an arm band for a phone or iPod so you can listen to music while you run. The band takes the hassle out of carrying something in your hands, making for a more comfortable and smoother run. I suggest getting a waterproof band, that way any rain or sweat won’t affect your ability to enjoy music.
“If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now. Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it.” -Priscilla Welch
I believe that music can make a big difference in enjoying your runs. Everyone has different tastes and some people prefer no music at all. I have to listen to something upbeat and fun. I take my running playlists very seriously! I would caution you not to play the music too loudly, so you can hear traffic; Safety First!
“Out on the roads there is fitness and self-discovery and the persons we were destined to be.” -Dr. George Sheehan
It may seem obvious, but stretching before and after running is key to an effective run. Working out your stiffness and tightness will help a lot in your running mechanics, as well. I suggest investing in a foam roller to work out the kinks. They are inexpensive, and an excellent tool for prepping the body for exercise!
Another recommendation is hydration. Being properly hydrated will make a big difference in performance, and how you feel during & after your run. Drinking water will go a long way toward improving your abilities. Aim for a minimum of 64 ounces of water every day. Challenge yourself to get 72 or even 80 ounces of water a day; and not just on days you run – everyday. Your body needs that constant nourishment to function at it’s best.
Lastly, realize that running isn’t for everyone. You may find that you’re not enjoying it as much as you thought. That being said, don’t give up after 2 or 3 runs. You may feel discomfort since you’ll be using a very different set of muscles than you are used to, recognize what is uncomfortable and learn to listen to your body. Be careful to recognize that pain and soreness are different things, I wouldn’t want you to ignore a legitimate injury. Learning a new skill doesn’t come that easily. Give yourself a little grace and some time to, bit by bit, to let the sport grow on you naturally. The physical health and mental health benefits are incredible, and worth striving for.
To help you get inspired and motivated to do a race with friends & relatives here is a link to upcoming summer races in Lancaster. Get out there, get surrounded by like-minded people. This will take some of the pressure off when running seems like a chore. Races are meant to be enjoyed and all accomplishments are to be celebrated!