Running Tips for Beginners
Want to give running a shot but don't know where to start? I've got you. Whether you're looking to learn, want to test your limits or engage in some moving meditation, I have a few easy to follow tips that can help.
I may be biased as a coach, but running is one of the world's most enjoyable pursuits. But for those new to the sport, getting started isn’t always easy, especially in the early days. That's why I've come up with a selection of tips and tricks to help you start and continue the right way.
START SLOWER THAN YOU THINK
Start sensible with your runs with some slow paced jogging to get you going. And when I say slow, I mean slow. Focus on your form, focus on your breathing, focus on one foot in front of the other. The benefits of this are three-fold, it will help to prevent injury as your body adjusts to your new routine, it will keep your motivation high when each run is not a punishing affair that leaves you psychologically and physically dreading the next time you lace up, and gentle runs promote cardiovascular, cardiorespiratory and muscular structural development. As a running coach, I am here to tell you that in the early days of just starting your running routine, do not worry about pace. Just getting used to the new challenges you’re presenting your body is more than enough to deal with, especially if you want to continue with running and continue upping your mileage in the future. Starting with a light jog and walk routine is great, then gradually build to jogging for a longer distance and lessening the walk portion as your build your running fitness. Once you build a good base, start adding in more speed work.
PACE YOURSELF, BUILD GRADUALLY
One mistake beginner runners often make is failing to pace themselves. Pacing the run means understanding for your body’s natural limits and efforts. By pushing too hard, too early, you may find yourself unable to finish the distance, feel burnt out or injure yourself.
Along the same lines, long distance running quickly becomes a lifestyle. The training involved should match one’s level of fitness and it is important to set challenging, but reachable goals tailored to you. You want to start slow and with low mileage and build up gradually. The rule of thumb should always be to gradually build strength, endurance and cardio with your running for long-term success.
Incremental growth is key. Typically you want to increase the weekly mileage by no more than 10%. This approach will reduce the chance of injury as you increase your workout load.
When starting, it's great to use the rate of perceived exertion scale so you start to be more in-tune with your body and efforts. RPE is a subjective rating based on how you feel physically and mentally during the exercise. It uses a scale of 1-10 as a guide, where 1 is the least difficult and 10 is the most difficult. Rating your exertion this way enables you to self regulate your training intensity during a workout. An RPE of 1 is often referred to as just above rest, hardly any exertion, while an RPE of 10 is a maximal effort. You want to start understanding your body better so you can learn to adjust your workouts, pace yourself and your runs, and self regulate so you can continue on.
When running, you want to minimize the tension on your wrists, hands, shoulders and arms. The head should be upright so you can clearly see where you’re headed, your back should be straight, shoulders back and down, and your breaths should be deep, sinking into your exhale. Focusing on taking quick, light short strides making sure your feet land under your enter of mass. Running in the ideal posture ensures optimal performance and efficiency.
Any sport requires nutritious meals, snacks and proper hydration to aid in muscle recovery, overall health and performance. Eating whole nutrient dense foods and eating enough, helps to stabilize your body before and after long workouts and running. By eating a variety of nutrient dense foods can help one achieve peak performance to meet the demands of training and athletic events (especially if you make a goal of entering a race!). Be aware of getting sufficient healthful whole protein sources, healthful carbohydrates, healthful fats, micronutrients and adequate hydration. Your body expends a lot of energy and nutrients through exercise, especially endurance sports, so fueling properly is key for optimal performance and function.
For any recreational runner (and all!), warming up before a workout and a run is imperative. A good warm up dilates your blood vessels, ensuring that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen before you give them a vigorous workout. It also raises the temperature of your muscles for optimal flexibility and efficiency. A combination of some dynamic movements and exercises are great before the run are highly recommended to eliminate chances of muscle pulls and cramps.
IT'S OKAY TO LEAVE SOME IN THE TANK
Not every run should leave you exhausted. Not every run should be sprints. Aim to finish majority of your runs with still wanting more. Don’t run yourself to physical and psychological exhaustion. Remember too, it’s meant to be fun.
Long distance running can be taken up by anyone who is interested in trying something new, improving their overall fitness level, engage in moving meditation and more. It’s a great because it’s affordable and accessible to nearly everyone.
All you one need is good running gear and the right mentality. By starting slow and gradually building endurance and strength through some of the tips provided above, you can increase your level at your own pace safely and in a healthy way.