I have been thinking a lot lately about when I started my health journey, specifically running and I wanted to get a Running 101: Tips to Get Started guide out there in the hopes of making it easier for those new to the sport to get started in the right direction.
First off, congratulations! You may not love running on day one, or even be able to run a full mile, but trust me.. give it time!
When I first started, I could not even “run” a quarter mile, so there is hope. I also used to dread the mileage, thinking and praying for it to be over. However, after sticking with it for a few months, one day my praying turned to curiosity and I wondered how far I could run instead of how far do I have to run. A fire was lit and I hope you find that same fire and joy after consistent effort.
First off, be sure to get yourself a good pair of shoes and get properly fitted for them. Sure you can run in that random pair of tennis shoes you bought last year, but in order to reduce the chance of injury and make your new sport more enjoyable, go to a reputable local running store. At a running store, they can do a gait analysis to see your running style and make sure you are in the right shoe.
Most stores will have you do a short walk or run on a treadmill so they can see the dynamics of your foot as it lands. Based on your style, they will then classify you into a shoe type in order to not only to reduce injury, but to help your body get in the proper natural alignment when running to avoid injury as your foot lands. Trust me, this investment is necessary and we are lucky, compared to other sports, a good pair of shoes is all you need! Expect to spend around $100-$150 based on your needs.
Second, get a plan in place based on your goal. When I first started I could not run a mile so I downloaded the Couch to 5K app on my iPhone as I wanted to run a 5K without walking it. It took me through a walk/run cycle that built up to me running a 5k. Jeff Galloway also has some great training plans on his website too that will start you off slowly and build up your endurance.
A plan is great because the good ones will gradually increase your mileage week by week at a safe level, they will also add in a week when needed to reduce mileage slightly for recovery.
Print it out and be sure to record your progress! You can simply write your time and distance on your plan or use an app like Strava or RunKeeper to record and share with others. I love looking back and seeing how my mileage and paces have changed over time, plus if you decide to hire a running coach one day this information is great to share so they can gauge where you are at.
Have you heard of the Talk Test? Once you have a plan and set out, this is key. At this point, running is not run all out sprints as fast as you can, that is a recipe for disaster for sure and disappointment.
You should be able to comfortably have a conversation as your run and build up your mileage. Don’t worry about how fast, or slow, you are going. You want to get your body used to the motion of running and the distance.
If talking when running means a light jog for you, great. If you can run a bit faster and still be able to chat as if someone was running along side of you, awesome. If it is a speed walk that you are doing for the running intervals, perfect! We are all on our own journeys, improved effort without all out exhaustion, is the best place to safely build mileage.
Where do you want to run? Anywhere safe is fine. I run a lot on the sidewalks in my subdivision as well as at local metro parks and I also head out to the roads for group runs.
Be sure to think about safety and make sure you dress to be seen if you are out near the roads. Also, check Facebook and your local running store to see if you can find any local groups to run with. Lifetime Fitness also has run clubs. Don’t worry about being new to the sport, runners are a helpful and welcoming group 🙂
Now that you have all of this planned out, also think about how what you eat will affect your running. The healthier you eat, i.e. lean meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, oats, quinoa, the better prepared your body will be to run and recover from running.
Be sure not to head out on a run after a heavy meal, this is why I like to run first thing in the morning. If I do take fuel before my run, it is usually a Honey Stinger Gel or something simple like a small serving of oats or applesauce. Running and a full stomach does not go well together. Just trust me 🙂
Finally recovery, be sure to let your body properly recover according to the plan you follow. Rest is crucial for repairing the small micro tears that occur in your muscles after a run. If you have a rest day and want to work out still, find a good core and upper body workout and do that.
If you are new to the sport, what questions do you have about running? Also, my experienced runners, what tips and tricks would you like to share with those who are just getting into our amazing sport?