So you want to start running. Great!
Running is a great form of cardiovascular exercise–to be honest, my favorite. I have been running since I was 17 years old and fell in love fast. I love working up a sweat quickly, having the time alone to think, destress, and the endorphin high I get is unlike anything else. Two of the most important things to remember when trying something new; you might not be very good at it when you start and it might not be easy.
After working with numerous clients over the years I have found there are some key things one can do to find success:
1. Have a plan! You have to start small. Running is a process and you have to respect your body. Try going for a run/walk; a few minutes of running followed by a few minutes of walking and repeating that allowing yourself to build up to a straight run. A great app called C25K, which also syncs with MyFitnessPal, coaches you telling you exactly how to progress.
2. Get fitted for proper running shoes for YOUR foot. Feet are very unique. The wrong running shoe can result in discomfort, pain, and ultimately injury.
3. Cross train. Running is very repetitive. While running you use the same muscles over and over again in a linear (forward) only motion. It is important for our bodies to be balanced muscularly to avoid injury. It is also important to cross train to avoid burnout. Yoga, Pilates, strength training and swimming are great forms of exercise that compliment running, helping to keep you healthy and strong.
4. Find a buddy or join a running group. Having a partner will help you stay motivated, inspired, committed and it is great to be able to encourage one another. A little positive peer pressure can be a great thing.
5. Invest in quality exercise clothing. 100% cotton and running do not go together. Moisture wicking fabrics are best to prevent chafing, skin irritation and worst of all blisters. If you aren’t sure where to start quality running socks in my opinion are key. When your feet hurt, every step hurts.
6. Start stretching! A good dynamic warm-up is great to “warm-up” your body. Post run, a 5-10 minute stretch session is very helpful. It will help ward off soreness and potential injury.
7. Make friends with a foam roller. It may look a little funny but foam rolling can provide similar benefits to a deep-tissue massage. With regular use, it can increase flexibility and decrease tension in muscles which can prevent injuries and improve performance.
8. Stay safe. If you are heading out alone, carry your phone, a small amount of cash in case of an emergency. Also, let someone know and take an ID with you, or better yet get yourself a RoadID. Map out your course before hitting the pavement by using an online tool like MapMyRun.
9. Fuel and hydrate. Check out these fueling tips from Elle, the MyFitnessPal RD & Runkeeper. As an added bonus, if you track your runs with Runkeeper, they’ll automatically sync with your MyFitnessPal exercise diary so all you have to do is log your fuel!
10. Sign up for a race! Having a goal is a great way to get and stay motivated. Rather than being overly ambitious and registering for a marathon, start with something you know you can achieve, like a 5K!
11. Have fun! Grab a buddy, listen to music or podcasts you enjoy. Soak up the sunshine (when it’s out) and make sure you enjoy the fresh air.
Remember, the key to enjoying, and sticking with running is starting small, pacing yourself, being comfortable and making it fun! You’ll be able to go farther and faster eventually–but if you don’t enjoy the process from the get-go, you may never get there. If you eventually decide running isn’t for you, there are plenty of other ways to be active–at least you gave something new a shot!