One of the major draws for people who take up running is how little is needed. There’s no fancy equipment or expensive memberships to worry about, you just lace up your sneakers, open the front door and hit the road. And while the runner’s high is fantastic, you might start to notice some not so great side effects: achy muscles, blackened toenails, plantar fasciitis, tight muscles or other common running injuries.
That is why I’ve compiled this little list of ways to get the most out of each and every run. Even if you’re an intermediate, these running tips for beginners will improve your running, keep your body safe and make running a healthy activity you can enjoy for years to come. And trust me, I have been there with the black toes, pulled muscles, achey body, but when I apply and adhere by these tips, it makes all the difference!
Warm up. You're all set to hit the pavement, but, have you warmed up yet? Failing to do so before a run can lead to pulling a muscle, hurting a tendon or starting off at a too fast pace that leaves you feeling exhausted and burnt out way before you’d like. A dynamic warm up would be best. Try a routine that will get your blood flowing and heart rate up, give your muscles a chance to warm up gently and open your joints at a slower pace. Start by walking at a brisk pace for several minutes then transitioning to a light jog for another few minutes. Then add some dynamic stretching and movements, like jumping jacks, squats or butt kicks to finish up.
Set a goal and be consistent. Keep in mind that you want to set goals that are realistic and achievable, especially when you’re just starting out. Going from the couch to a full marathon in two months isn’t realistic or good. But going from the couch to a 5k is doable. In general, I don’t recommend increasing your mileage or running volume by more than 10 percent a week. Increasing speed and / or mileage too quickly may lead to injury and burnout. Sometimes we may just want to get outside to get fresh air, clear our heads and run. But, in general, establishing a goal, whether it’s long term or session specific, will motivate you and can even improve your running. For instance, are you training for a race or hoping to reach a certain distance? Will you focus on interval running in this session instead of keeping a consistent pace? The only way to achieve something is to do it consistently.
Cross train. As great as running is for the body and mind, it shouldn’t be the only type of exercise you do. A major running tip for beginners that I stress is incorporating other types of workouts, or cross training, so that you’ll strengthen muscles that aren’t used when running, helping prevent injury and give running muscles a chance to recover. Make sure to alternate cross training on days when you’re not running or add it onto shorter running days. If you’re a long distance runner, risk the temptation to sneak in cross training activities during rest days. Your body does need those days to fully recover.
Pre and post workout fuel. Your body needs the best foods for athletes before and after a run. The right mix will keep you energized throughout your workout session and then helping muscles recover afterward.If you’re running a long distance or have an intense workout, I recommend getting something with a 4:1 carb to protein ratio beforehand. For instance, a banana and nut butter, toast and nut butter, an all natural energy bar, granola, etc. I also recommend keep that to about 45 minutes to an hour beforehand. And post run you will want to make sure you replenish your body properly with macronutrients, especially protein for muscle recovery.
Listen to your body. Your body is constantly speaking to you, but it’s up to you to listen. When something is in pain, please don’t force yourself to power through. Take a rest or see a doctor. Remember that what works for others, whether it’s a training program, a shoe, a time of day to train or even when to eat, might not be the same for you. Resist the urge to compare yourself and your running to others. Focus on keeping your own body happy.
Stretch. After a workout your muscles deserve a decent stretch. With running primarily focusing on glutes, hamstrings, quads, IT bands and feet. The IT band runs along the outside of each leg and can be prone to tendonitis if you don’t take steps to keep it supple. I also highly recommend using a foam roller to massage those body parts and work out any tight areas that have developed. Also, don’t neglect your feet! You just put them through a tough workout as well, so be sure to stretch out the entire foot and toes. And if you suffer from plantar fasciitis, rolling the bottom of each foot over a tennis ball or a foot roller can help. I absolutely love my foot roller!
Choose the right shoes. This I can't stress enough as well! A major tip also pertains to the type of shoes you use when you exercise, it can make a huge difference on your comfort and ease while running. I recommend going to a running store, being fit for a shoe and experimenting with different types. A decent running shoe is worth all the money. Depending on your foot’s shape and any previous injuries, you might find one style or brand suits you best. Also with running shoes, you’ll want to choose a shoe that’s 1/2 to one size up from your normal size because, as you run, your foot swells and you’ll want room to accommodate your feet, as well as it is a lot of pounding to the ground so you want enough room for your toes to be comfortable.
If you love running, or want to get in to running, I hope these tips help!
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