While there is a lot of information out there and plenty of pointers we’d like to give, we chose 5 that we thought were the most important! Here are our running pointers, do’s, don’ts and musts!!
#1- Good shoes! Too often people start a running program in bad shoes that will not support their foot properly. Good shoes are not going to make you faster or stronger, but they will allow you to complete your running program feeling better and avoid injury. Best place to find good shoes? A local running store where they can look at your foot: high arch, low arch, wide toe box, etc. They will assess your foot and get you paired up with the best shoe for you.
#2- Too much too fast! A very common running mistake is trying to pack in too many miles too quickly. You will not only burn out, but you will more likely get injured. It is crucial that you create a program for yourself that is realistic, not only physically, but also realistic for your schedule. If you have never been a big runner, start small: 15-20 mins bouts of running 3 x week will do the trick. Break the bouts into increments: 2 mins of jogging, followed by 2 mins of walking and so on. As you get more conditioned, your running bouts will become longer and your walking bouts will become shorter. Eventually being able to work up to completing the complete 15-20 mins bouts without a rest.
#3- Focus on time not on mileage. If you’re a beginning runner, focusing on mileage can be daunting. Instead have a minute’s goal! As mentioned above, start by running for a few minutes, then walking for a few minutes. Increasing your time each week or as your body feels ready. A general guideline is to increase your time, and eventually mileage, by no more than 10% a week. Once you accomplish a long running bout, you can start tracking your mileage.
#4- Cross train, cross train, cross train! I cannot stress the importance of cross-training enough. Your body is meant to move in different planes of motion. If all you’re doing is running, your body will have muscular imbalances that will create altered movement patterns, which can result in injury. Cross training is just as important as the running! Strength training, swimming, yoga and other workout classes are all good things to help counter balance the load from running. (Don’t get me wrong-- running is great, but too much of anything can be a bad thing.)
#5- Stretch and foam roll! This step is going to be essential to any successful running program. From beginners to competitive runners, stretching and foam-rolling is a must! Everyone knows what stretching is, but what is foam rolling? Foam rolling is like getting a deep tissue massage… you will have a love/hate relationship with your foam roller. Foam rolling helps with self- myofascial release (SMR). By doing this, your body will feel better while you’re running and it will prevent you from getting injuries like runners knee.
One final thing, majority of your exercise should be at a moderate intensity level. Too often we think we need to push ourselves really hard to gain fitness. This is true to an extent, but should only be done 1-2x’s a week. The rest of your workouts, whether it’s running or cross training, should be at a moderate intensity level. This means you should be able to carry on a conversation, but there should be enough shortness in your breath that someone can tell you’re exercising.
Last but not least… give yourself kudos for even starting a running program. No matter what level of runner you are, or are striving to be, any length of running is a huge accomplishment. Good luck, lace up those shoes, and go enjoy the time on your feet!!