Planning to start running? It should be easy right? After all, it's pretty much just like walking, only faster. Well, as the old saying goes, you have to walk before you can run. Running is just like any other athletic endeavor, and proper planning and execution are essential to your level of success. Here are a few tips to help you with you get up and running!
1. Get fitted for shoes – Find the best shoe for your foot type. Spending a little extra on a good pair of running shoes is a very good idea for beginning runners. Everyone walks or runs a little bit differently. A good running shoe store will be able to advise you on what shoe best fits your running style. Keeping your feet happy and healthy is essential to staying committed to your new running routine.
2. Get technical support – When it comes to running clothing and footwear, moisture is a major consideration. You will want to get socks and sportswear that are made of technical fabrics which allow the moisture to rise to the surface and evaporate more quickly. Stay away from cotton. Cotton is rotten! It retains moisture and can cause all sorts of unnecessary and uncomfortable irritations like blisters and chaffing.
3. Find a group – Running with a group is an excellent way to increase your motivation, stay accountable, and be committed. When you experience those days that you don't feel like running, being part of a group will help you stay motivated. It's one thing to let yourself down, but it is a lot harder to let someone else down when they are counting on you.
4. Make a plan – If you haven't been exercising and are just starting out, you may need to ease into your new running routine. Don't just get out the door and run, make a plan first. If you are looking for a beginning running plan, check out the wellness committee couch to 5K program!
5. Take time to acclimate – Your fitness level will dip at first. It can take 4 to 6 weeks to acclimate to your new running routine. Don't do too much too soon. Doing too much too soon could lead to injury. Many runners feel drained when they first start running. This drained feeling, the dip in fitness, and injury are the main reasons many new runners quit. Be patient. Results will come, but it won't happen overnight.
6. Fuel your fire – Eat the right kind of food before you start. Eat 200 to 400 calories of mostly complex carbohydrates and a little protein an hour and a half before your run. Replenish your muscles after running by eating something that has a 4:1 carbohydrates to protein ratio. Low fat chocolate milk has this ratio.
7. Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water. Ideally, drinking 20 oz of water two hours before running is best. You can drink water as you run, but after 45 – 60 minutes of running you should switch to Gatorade to replace your electrolytes.
8. Get warmed up – Doing a dynamic stretch, like a 5 minute walk, before you start is a great way to warm up before running. The traditional stretch-and-hold stretches are best left for after you run to avoid cramping.
9. Don't run through pain – Normal exercise related muscle pain is one thing, but if you experience non muscle pain in your shins, hips, feet, etc., stop running. Pushing through this kind of pain will not help your running and exacerbate an injury. Ice and elevate your injury, take time to heal, and slowly ease back into your running routine.
10. Rest – Exercise of any kind will create micro tears in your muscles, which your body repairs, building muscle. The only way for your body to repair and rebuild this muscle is with rest. You need to schedule rest days into your running routine, and if you are just starting out, have at least one day of rest in between running days.