Are you thinking about starting to run regularly? Or are you a sporadic runner looking to make your training a little more regular?
Not so fast, Roger Bannister. Before you lace up those kicks and head out the door, make sure you’re prepared and ready to hit the road with these tips for the beginning runner.
- The gear
Properly fitting shoes are critical to running successfully and avoiding injury. There is enormous variation in feet—some pronate, some supinate and some are flat. You’ll need appropriate shoes that fit your gait and arch (or lack thereof). Visit a shoe store that specializes in running shoes. Trained salespeople will analyze your gait to determine the right shoe for your foot.
While you’re shoe-shopping, pick up some socks that wick away moisture. Proper socks will fight against excessive blistering and athlete’s foot. It may take some trial and error to find the socks that work best for you.
Before investing in expensive running clothes, go out for a few runs. You’ll find out quickly what adjustments need to be made in terms of comfort and chafing.
- Indoor vs. outdoor
If possible, start your foray into running on a treadmill.
Treadmills allow you to control nearly all variables, and this is helpful for beginners. Treadmills are padded, and that means less impact on your joints than, say, running on pavement. Beginning on a treadmill also allows you to run free of distractions in a safe environment. Set the incline to zero and warm up with a brisk walk for five to 10 minutes. Slowly increase the pace until you’re at a comfortable jog.
Take your runs outside for a change of pace. Running outside has its own challenges, including uneven roads, weather, traffic, and not having quick access to water and facilities. However, wind resistance and irregular pavement contribute to overall calorie burn and challenge your body.
- Racing events
Signing up for half marathons or charity events can be excellent motivation to get started.
Some races will offer training programs to get you going or provide suggestions for progressive runs. Consider meeting with a race coach to develop a training plan specifically tailored to you. In addition to your training plan, you’ll also want to make a pre-race checklist. Preparing for a race requires more than just the time you spend on your feet.
Using a training plan takes the guesswork out of how much running to do each week. It can be tempting to progress quickly if you’re feeling energetic, but too much too soon can cause injury and overtraining.
Running nutrition is not one size fits all, and you may need to do some tweaking to find the eating plan that works best for you.
As a general guideline, don’t eat a large meal within two hours before a run. Digestion can interfere with running and cause stomach issues. Keep track of your meals, runs and energy levels to determine what combination of carbohydrates, proteins and fats give you the best results.
Don’t forget about strength training! Supplement your training program with strength training on days you aren’t running.
Work on strengthening your hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and gluteal muscles. Working these muscles in different ways will assist in building overall strength and help you progress.
- Listen to your body
Enthusiasm is not a substitute for good judgment. If you’re hurting or feeling overly tired, take a break. An injury takes time to heal, and if you don’t allow that to happen, you’re opening yourself to the risk of more injuries and more time off.
- Discover what you like
The best way to stick with something is to enjoy it. If you prefer running outside, structure your running schedule so you can. Figure out if you like going it alone or if joining a running group makes it more fun. Try sprinting, jogging, trail running and intervals. The best training plan is the one you’ll actually do.
This post originally appeared on Precor.com.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Precor