Running seems to be an activity that strikes fear and dread into many people — but it really shouldn’t. A nice long run is an amazing way to get in shape, de-stress and stay in tune with your own mind and body. Even better? No fancy gym memberships or equipment required. Running is totally free.
Get ready to block out the noise and get your jog on. If you’re a running newbie, here are some basic tips to get you motivated and maximize your training time.
1. Warm up
Make sure you start off simple with a few warm-up moves to get the blood flowing and loosen up your limbs.
2. Lunge stretches and walking lunges
Then move into lunge stretches and walking lunges to open up the upper body, hips and hamstrings.
3. Reach to your toes
Next, stand up and slowly bend at the waist with a flat back and reach down to touch your toes, gently stretching your calf and hamstrings. (Hold each side for 20 seconds.)
4. Leg stretches
Stand up and bend your right leg at the knee back toward your butt and grab your foot behind you with the same hand, stretching your quads. (Hold for 10 seconds then repeat on the other side.)
5. Stretch to the side
Stand up and raise your arms over your head, grabbing your wrist to stretch the back, shoulders and arms. Bend over to one side and hold for five breaths. Go back to center and then bend over to the other side and hold for five breaths. (Repeat 10 times.)
6. Stretch your calves and arms
Face a wall or a tree and push against it on an angle to stretch the backs of your calves and your arms.
7. Shake it out
Shake it out, then walk for about three to five minutes to get your joints and muscles ready for the motion that’s similar to what your body will be doing during a run.
8. Warmed up
Once you’re warmed up, get ready to hit the ground running. Start with a slow jog for about two to three minutes and work your way into a running pace that feels right for you. Once you get in the groove, you can push yourself to go the extra mile and work toward your distance goals. I usually run four to five miles when I’m looking for an hourlong workout and then cool down with a brisk walk for one minute.
9. Stretching at the end
You can end your run with some simple stretches from the beginning of the workout to avoid injuries.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.
Originally published March 2016. Updated February 2017.