Being a new runner can be exciting as you look forward to slimming down and toning up. Plus, it seems so simple. After all, you already know how to run, and there are plenty of places where you can work out for free.
However, while you don’t need to spend a lot of money, you do need to take some precautions to avoid injuries and reach your goals. Double check this list of things every new runner needs to know.
How to Prevent Injuries:
- Shop for shoes. Buy shoes specifically made for running, so you’ll have adequate shock absorption and support. You may also want to stock up on special socks and other clothing that wick away moisture.
- Limit your stride. Shorter steps will help protect your knees and heels. Spend your first runs focusing on distance rather than speed.
- Walk a lot. Alternating between walking and running is a smart strategy, especially for beginners. Take a walking break when you notice a side ache or you’re breathing too hard to carry on a conversation.
- Train for strength. Building a powerful core and limbs will enhance your posture and reduce aches and pains. Strong thighs and hips can help you say goodbye to runner’s knee, the most common overuse injury among runners.
- Listen to your body. If you feel any pain or strong sensations while running, it’s time to take a break. Talk with your doctor and ask an experienced runner or sports specialist for suggestions on changing your form.
How to Train Effectively:
- Schedule rest days. Your days off are just as productive as the days you spend on the track. Rest time is when your body heals and grows stronger and faster.
- Proceed gradually. Start out with slow speeds, modest distance, and plenty of walking breaks. Increasing speed and distance by about 10% a week is considered safe for most adults.
- Mix it up. Running is a high impact activity that’s strenuous for your joints. Devote some active rest days to low impact workouts like swimming and cycling.
- Keep a log. Creating your own runner’s journal is a practical way to set short and long-term goals and evaluate your progress. You can also use a variety of apps to plan your runs, and many of them are free.
How to Stay Motivated:
- Join a group. Running with friends takes your mind off how much you’re sweating. Join a Meetup group or start one of your own. Invite a co-worker to run with you at lunchtime.
- Listen to music. A lively playlist is another way to make tough workouts seem easier. Choose songs that energize you or download a podcast with something educational to listen to.
- Be consistent. Habits are powerful. Run each day before breakfast or as soon as you arrive home from work. Pretty soon it will be difficult to do anything else at that hour because running becomes automatic.
- Remember your purpose. Are you starting to miss more workouts or finding it tough to lace up your shoes? Think about why you started running in the first place. Give yourself immediate rewards if your longer-term aspirations need some reinforcement.
- Watch your diet. Maybe you’re thinking about quitting because you’re gaining weight instead of losing it. The trouble is probably your meal plan rather than your running. While you may be able to eat a little more if you’re less sedentary, too many extra calories will still pack on pounds.
Running will strengthen your heart and trim your waistline if you can avoid achy knees and boredom. Start your program gradually and develop positive habits that will keep you safe as you build up your speed and distance.