While stuck in the house during the Corona Virus pandemic, I constantly missed my old fitness routine. As an active person, the closure of all gyms and pools forced me to live a very different lifestyle. So to bring some activity back into my life, I did what many people around the world did: I went outside and started running.
Through the months of my new running hobby, I learned all about the do’s and don’ts of running for people like me: non-runners. Because let’s face it; some of us, no matter how hard we try, will never be the runners of the century. But guess what. That doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from running!
In this blog post, I’ve recorded my findings, successes and failures during my running journey. After reading my six tips, I hope that I can help you get outside and workout safely and enjoyably.
1. Get the Right Shoes
One of the most common reason people avoid running is the pain it can cause in your legs and feet. But this soreness and injury can often be avoided with the right footwear. Because everyone runs differently, using different muscles and joints more than others, everyone needs a different kind of support.
Luckily, this doesn’t mean you have to do in-depth research on human anatomy and kinesiology. Instead, just visit your local running store and meet with a professional. These employees will analyze your running style and choose a shoe tailored for your needs.
They may be a little pricier than generic tennis shoes, but if you are serious about making running a habit, I recommend spending the extra money to get shoes that are perfect for you.
2. Be Sure to Stretch
As for all exercise, your body needs to properly warm up before intense activity. Otherwise, you risk strain and injury on your body. One of the best ways to do this is by stretching before a run.
Before your first few runs, be sure to stretch any muscle you will be using. After a few sessions, recognizing where you get the sorest, spend some extra time stretching these areas to be sure that your legs are ready to workout.
Another way to warm up your legs is to do a few minutes of walking before switching to running. It may feel pointless at the time, but your body will thank you later!
3. Start Slow
Of all the mistakes new runners make, this seems to be the most common one. Although we are land animals, we cannot naturally run miles on end with no training and no breaks. When you first start exercising by running, you have to listen to your body’s limits.
Doing too much too soon is a quick way to fatigue and injury. At first, don’t be discouraged if you can only complete a 10 to 20 minute session without having to stop. It’s totally okay to start small and build up!
Only plan on running one to two miles at first, with plenty of walking mixed in. Then, each week, you can increase your distance by a small amount. By building up your workout, you are training your body to slowly and safely improve your abilities.
4. Mix it Up
Running doesn’t have to be a long, boring cardio workout. Instead, you can shake up your workout to be more effective, diverse and exciting.
The first thing you can do is rotate between working your aerobic and anaerobic capacities. Aerobic exercise is the running we all know about: the long intervals of slower running with nothing in between. Anaerobic, on the other hand, is more of a sprint workout, focused on speed and allowing plenty of time for walking and recovery.
To increase your abilities and avoid mental burn out, you can mix up these different kinds of exercises, giving you a new challenge each day. And with any kind of workout, especially when you are just starting out, be sure to take walking breaks throughout!
5. Keep it Interesting
One of the biggest complaints I hear about running is that it just gets boring. After a while, we all need a distraction to stay sane or keep our minds off the pain. In order to combat this, we have to find ways to entertain ourselves.
First, you can try changing your setting. My favorite place to run is my local parks and trails, with plenty of ponds and fountains, where I can rest by a stream or look for wildlife. Or maybe you like to run through your favorite neighborhood, looking at the nicest houses.
Still bored? Pop in some earbuds and listen to your favorite music. Or play an audiobook or podcast you’ve been meaning to finish. Feel free to experiment with these different forms of entertainment to find what’s best for you.
6. Don’t Forget Recovery
Even if you do everything right, running can still take a toll on your body. All of us, at any level of fitness, must remember that we aren’t machines. Give your body the recovery it needs and deserves.
Your amount of recovery can also change as you build up your running. At first, I suggest only running once every other day. But even when you’re in great running shape, be sure to take one or two days off each week to let your muscles recover.
Although the path before you seems daunting, you are more than capable of reaching the finish. All it takes is dedication and patience. You may never reach the fabled “runner’s high,” but you will surely be able to look back at the progress you’ve made and be proud of what you’ve accomplished.