With spring arriving fast, runners are coming outside once again, hitting roads, trails and sidewalks around the country. Much like the horde of new gym-goers in January prepping for New Year’s resolutions, this is around the season that beginning runners hit the road. The number of runners is increasing steadily, and while many new runners head out with admirable goals, they frequently find themselves overwhelmed with their new activity. Because of its low start-up costs,running is frequently the first choice for aspiring fitness nuts, yet many new runners aren’t prepared for the new demands that this sport will put on their bodies. I recently came across an article that outlines 10 great tips to make sure that your running endeavor is a success.
1. Get fitted: Pay a visit to your local running store. These places tend to have much more knowledgeable staff than most big retails stores, who can provide gait analysis to reveal your foot strike pattern. This knowledge can determine whether you overpronate, underpronate or have a neutral gait, all of which will help in selecting the best possible shoe for your foot type. Be prepared to spend $80 or $100 for a good pair of running shoes.
2. Technical fabric: Buy some technical fabric running shorts, tops and socks. Technical fabric can be made from various fibers, whether natural or synthetic. Avoid 100% cotton, as it retains sweat to cause chaffing, irritation and blisters. Technical fabrics, on the other hand, allow the moisture to rise to the surface to evaporate.
3. Get a group: Motivation, inspiration, accountability and commitment dramatically increase when you have a running buddy or are in a running group. While you might not always be in the mood to run, knowing that you have buddies counting on your can make all the difference in the world.
4. Find a plan: Often-times, just getting out of the door and running doesn’t work, especially if you haven’t been exercising in a while. Find a beginning running plan to follow, either online, through a running club or from coaches.
5. Acclimate yourself: When you start a new exercise, your body’s fitness level will start to dip while you acclimate to the new demands you’re putting on your body, which is when many new runners start to give up. Before you take up running, understand that it takes your body between four and six weeks to acclimate to the new demands. Anticipating that “wiped-out” feeling can actually make it less of a shock. Hang in there, and you’ll overcome the feeling.
6. Stay fueled: It’s very important to fuel your new activity. A good rule of thumb is to eat about 200 to 400 calories of mostly complex carbs and a little protein around and hour and a half before your run, so that you have time to digest the food and take the energy needed for your activity. Not eating enough before your run can cause fatigue, and eating too soon can cause stomach issues.
7. Hyrdate: Being well-hydrated is just as important, if not more so, than being well-fueled. Drink around 20 oz. of water about two hours before you run, which will give it time to pass through your system and be voided before your run. During your run, you can drink water, but once you’ve been running for more than an hour, you’ll want to switch to a sports drink to help replace vital electrolytes that play a huge role in helping maintain proper water balance in your body.
8. Warm up: Before heading off to your run, use a dynamic stretch to warm-up your muscles. One great way to do this is with a five-minute walk, which will help decrease the chance of your muscles feeling tight during your run.
9. Listen to your body: If you’re feeling something other than typical workout-related soreness, then don’t run. Running through the pain, despite what Jillian Michaels might say, is never a good idea. If you’re experiencing excessive pain, ice the area that’s hurting and elevate it until you no longer feel any pain, and then ease back into running.
10. Rest: Rest is just as important as your workout, since it allows your body time to rebuild and recover. During every workout, you create micro-tears in the muscle tissue, and as your body rushes to rebuild and repair the tears, your muscles build and make you stronger. If you don’t take the proper rest, however, then your body may not have the time to fully repair before your next run. When you start your beginning running program, have at least one day of rest in-between runs.