One of my awesome readers asked me recently if I had tips for someone who's just starting to run. Do I? Running is a great form of exercise that lets you get outside and is a great confidence builder. But like anything else, there are a few things you should know before you start out. Here's my own list of tips for new runners. I wish I knew some of these when I started out a few years ago.
10 Tips For New Runners
1. Check with your doctor or health care professional. You want to make sure you're starting with a clean bill of health: the last thing you want is an unexpected emergency during a run.
2. Start with a new pair of running shoes. It's not often we get permission to go shopping but here it is! Exciting, I know. I suggest going to a local running store and getting fit for a pair of shoes. The staff are usually trained to assess to your running gait and make recommendations. You don't want to run on older shoes because they may have already logged a lot of mileage, and lots of mileage means less support.
3. Get moisture-wicking clothing. You don't need to do this right away but you'll notice a big difference between running in cotton clothing and socks versus moisture-wicking clothing. It's no fun running in sweaty clothes.
4. Start off slowly. Don't start off running 3 miles right out of the gate. Start out with a short distance and if you find running continuously difficult, use run/walk intervals. So you might run for 30 seconds and walk for 2 minutes. Do this for a week or two and as you get more comfortable, you can increase your running time and decrease your walk breaks. There are also a lot of great training plans like C25K (Couch to 5K) that will get you up and running. Don't worry about what distance your neighbor is running, chances are he or she started off this way too.
5. Do a dynamic warmup before you start running. I'm often guilty of not warming up too, but you'll have a better run if you do. Some great warmup exercises are walking lunges, squats, side shuffles and karaokes (and I don't mean singing). The idea is to warm up your muscles and get your heart rate up so you're not pushing around stiff muscles. A dynamic warmup is different from static stretching. These are stretches that are done while the body is at rest and designed to elongate a muscle.You might remember doing those stretches in elementary school - putting your hands against a wall with one leg in front of the other to stretch out your calf muscles. These are best done at the end of your run or workout.
6. Incorporate cross training. You want to strengthen your back, core, glutes and quads so that your knees and legs aren't doing all the work. This will help prevent injuries. Some examples of cross training are weight training, yoga, swimming, cycling, walking and many other cardio-based exercises.
7. Hydrate. This doesn't mean loading up on water right before your run. You want to drink water regularly during the week even when you're not running. Besides making your run a lot tougher, being dehydrated can result in serious medical issues. So if it's hot out, take some water with you.
8. Get enough rest. This includes getting adequate sleep and taking regular breaks from running. You don't need to run everyday. Your body needs time to recuperate: running too often can result in injuries.
9. Be safe. If you're running at night or early in the morning be aware of your surroundings. Know the neighborhood you're running in, wear reflective clothing or a headlamp, and if you've got a headset on, make sure you're not completely zoned out and can still hear what's going on around you. Carry a piece of ID or wear an identification bracelet like the one from Road ID.
10. Have fun! Not every run you go out on will be a great one, but if you find you're not enjoying yourself, there are other activities and sports that will help you to stay fit.
These are some of the tips I've learned along the way. I hope you find them helpful. What are some of your tips for people who are new to running?
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