Running for Beginners 101
There are many things to consider when you first begin to run and developing good running habits from the beginning is the best way to start your running journey.
But why should you even start running in the first place? Well, for starters, it’s a great way to blow some steam, especially if you work in a high stress environment or just feel like you need an escape from life every now and then.
Aside from the usual physical benefits, becoming a regular runner will actually improve your mood (with the help of the endorphins your body releases). Studies have actually shown that even just 30 minutes of running per week will improve your sleep quality, mood and even your concentration. Long term running has actually been shown to cause the same kind of effect as addictive drugs do.
Now that you understand a little about how running could benefit your life, let’s go over a few things that you should consider when you first begin to run.
Do a quick warm up
They don’t call it a “warm” up for no reason. Doing a few quick exercises before you begin your running journey will help your muscles warm up enough to increase their flexibility, essentially preventing you from getting seriously injured.
Your warm up should be enough to get your heart rate up without tiring you out too much. A few good warm up exercises are:
- Walking Lunges
- Jumping Jacks
- High Knees
- Jump rope
Be conscious of your running posture
Yes, you read that right. Having the correct posture while you run will actually make it easier for you.
Correct running posture includes keeping your ears aligned with your shoulders (don’t look down or up too much), keeping your shoulder back (don’t slouch), keep your arms at a 90 degree angle and make sure your core is engaged.
It’s always a good idea to practice mindful eating, even if you don’t plan on working out. Eating the right amount of the right foods will help prevent you from feeling sluggish while you’re running.
An ideal pre-run meal consists of high in carbs, moderate protein and low in fat and fiber. Although it’s considered a pre-run meal, it is recommended that you wait 1-2 hours after a full meal before you begin your run.
Start with running intervals
When you first start running, the best and most effective way to begin is to break up your run with walking. Not only will it be easier on your body, but it actually burns more calories and is ideal if you’re trying to lose weight.
It can be really easy to get burnt out when running. The change of pace when interval training will actually help you keep your motivation and will typically make the time go by faster. (You can read more about staying motivated here!)
There are many benefits to interval training, so even once you become more confident as a runner it’s actually a good idea to continue this type of training, even if it’s just once or twice a week.
I know you’re excited to begin your new running lifestyle, but remember to take it easy at first. If you go into your run pushing it as hard as you can, your chances of getting hurt increase dramatically.
So do yourself a favor, and start off slow. Once you get the hang of it and know what your limits are you can gradually increase your speed and distance.
Cross train on the days you aren’t running
This means to do other workouts throughout the week such as yoga or weight lifting to increase your strength and your joint range of motion.
Your body needs the variety. If you put all of your focus into running and not focusing on the other parts of your body, your chances of getting injured increase dramatically.
Listen to your body
This is probably one of the most important thing to consider when you begin running. You know your body better than anyone else, so make sure you’re paying attention to any unusual pain or discomfort.
Side pain is totally normal when you’re running, so don’t be too alarmed when this starts to happen. All you have to do is slow down to a walking pace and hold your hands above your head.
But if it’s a pain in your knee or you start to feel too weak and dizzy, it might be a good idea to take a quick break to make sure you are okay.
Don’t be afraid to stop and take breaks! Everybody does it and I promise it’ll save you from future problems you may experience.
Don’t forget to cool down once you’re done running
When you finish your run it’s never a good idea to just stop. Take 5-10 minutes to walk with your hands above your head.
If you stop your run suddenly without taking the time to cool down you may experience some light headedness. You need to give you blood pressure and heart rate time to gradually lower rather than suddenly dropping.
Stretching while your muscles are still warm is the best way to relax after a good run session. While stretching, hold each position for 15-30 seconds and ease into it. Don’t fight any muscle resistance or pain, instead gradually increase the stretch as you feel less tension.
Pro Tip: Try practicing some yoga after your run sesh, this way you’re working on stretching your muscles as well as strengthening them.
Becoming a runner doesn’t have to be difficult, especially if you’re listening to your body.
Running is an effective way to improve and maintain your overall physical and mental health. Between improving your mood and losing weight, becoming a runner is a great idea no matter what stage of life you’re in.
***If you’re not sure on whether or not running is for you, the best way to find out is to just try. Give yourself just one week of proper running and then make the decision!