Are you already in the habit of regular exercise? Want to add running to your routine? You’re ready to run if you’ve spent at least two weeks walking or doing some other form of exercise (like using a stationary bike or an elliptical trainer) on a regular basis—roughly 30 minutes per day, four or five days per week.
Start with run/walks. While it’s tempting to just go out and run as fast as you can for as long as you can, you’ll ultimately run longer, feel stronger, and stay injury free if you start by adding short bouts of running to your regular walks and gradually increasing the amount of time that you spend running. However, the starting point is always tough. Below we want to give some tips which make running easier!
Beware of the terrible “toos.” Your main goal is to get fit without getting hurt. Going too far too fast, before your body is ready is one of the most common causes of injuries like shin splints, IT band syndrome, and runner’s knee, which sideline many people. You can stay injury-free by gradually building up the time you spend walking and running, increasing the time by no more than 10 percent from week to week.
Let the body be the boss. Some muscle aches and soreness—especially in the quadriceps and calves – are to be expected any time you are pushing your body farther or faster than it’s accustomed to going. But there are some pains that you shouldn’t ignore. Any sharp pains or pains that persist or worsen as you walk, run, or go about your daily activities are signals to rest for at least three days and see a doctor. Also, beware of any pains that are on one side of the body, but not the other. You may need to start with your general practitioner, but it’s best to see a sports medicine doctor or orthopedist if it persists.
Get the goods. You don’t need lots of fancy equipment to start running, but a new pair of shoes is a non-negotiable. Worn-out shoes are a leading cause of injury, and often wear and tear aren’t obvious to the naked eye. Go to a specialty running shop where you can get help finding a pair that offers the support and fit that your feet need. Don’t shop by fashion or price; the money you spend will pay off in the form of hundreds of pain-free comfortable miles. Replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles. While you’re there, pick up some clothes made of technical fabrics that wick away moisture from the skin.
Find the right route for you. Whether you start on the treadmill, the road, in the woods, or the trail, the most important thing when you start running is to find a safe route that feels comfortable for you. While there’s nothing as convenient as stepping out your front door and going around the block, if that doesn’t feel safe you have other options. Treadmills offer a cushioned, more forgiving alternative to the pavement, and they allow you to get your workout in all weather conditions. Tracks are ideal places to take your first steps, since they’re flat, traffic-free, and the distance is measured.
Train your brain. After a few weeks, you’ll begin to believe that the whole idea of an exercise high is not a myth. But, it can be hard to get out the door at first. And relying on willpower alone just won’t work. Make a plan. Listen to certain music, pick the most convenient time to work out and pick some rewards that will motivate you to just get up and go. Write out a plan and write it where you can see it, like the bathroom mirror. If the best time to run is the morning, make sure you’ve got an energizing music mix to listen to, and a relaxing hot shower to look forward to after you’re done. Create a prerun routine to cue your body and mind that it’s time to go, and repeat it every time you go. Try to get out at the same time of day. Put your workout clothes next to your bed.
Relax and run tall. You don’t have to worry too much about form at this point, but there are a few adjustments that can make the running feel more comfortable. Take short strides. Keep your elbows flexed at about 90 degrees, and keep your hands relaxed, as if you were holding a piece of paper between your thumb and pointer finger. Envision yourself walking tall, looking straight ahead at the horizon; avoid looking down at your feet.
Take breaks before you need to. Once you’re running, you may feel comfortable enough to skip the walk breaks. But it’s important to take walk breaks before you feel like you need them. This will help fend off fatigue and prevent you from doing too much too soon. By taking walk breaks at the regular intervals that are scheduled for the day, you can ensure that you’ll finish each workout feeling strong.
Keep your calories in balance. Once you start running, it’s important to eat to stay energized while also keeping out the extras that make you feel sluggish and drag you down. At each meal, about half of your calories should come from healthy complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. About one-quarter of your calories should come from heart-healthy unsaturated fats, like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. And the remainder of your calories should come from sources of lean protein, like soy, fish, lean poultry, eggs, and beans.
Be patient. Many of the positive changes that are happening when you start exercising won’t be visible in the mirror or on the scale. The weight loss will come if you’re consistent, but it takes time to condition your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The body makes more capillaries (tiny blood vessels that transfer oxygen and waste products into and out of cells), more mitochondria, (the energy-producing structures in cells), and more enzymes that help the body use fat as fuel. Plus, every time your foot strikes the ground, it stimulates bone growth, so your bones get stronger and denser.