Running 101: 9 Tips to Get Started
Today, I’m going to try and convince you to take up running.
I’m a big fan of running, which is why I became a sprint specialist – a discipline that is all about explosive power over a short distance. Running is something that anyone can get into with relatively little equipment and easily do at their own pace. It also has numerous health benefits, including:
- Burning calories
- Building stronger bones and muscles
- Improving heart health
- Helping to maintain a healthy weight
Whether you’re training for a marathon or just want to add some cardio exercise to your fitness routine, here are some simple tips to help you reach your running goals.
1. Running equipment
The great news is that you don’t need to purchase a lot of equipment to run, although these few essential items will make your journey more enjoyable:
- A pair of running shoes that fit well
- Distance running socks
- Comfortable clothing
2. Find places you can run indoors
Many of us live in parts of the world that have four seasons, not all of which are conducive to outdoor running. However, there are facilities like indoor tracks or gyms with treadmills that enable you to keep running all year long. Newer “curved” treadmills are a better choice than standard treadmills as they are powered by your stride rather than electricity, and their design encourages a more natural movement pattern where you are landing on the balls of your feet while running.
Find your nearest facility so that you can stay consistent with your running goals no matter the weather!
3. Listen to your body
If you don’t feel ready to run, simply walk instead. Once walking for a set time becomes easy, try to alternate between jogging and walking. Your aim should be to find a comfortable, sustainable pace that feels good and remember to stop if you feel pain. Always perform a warmup and cooldown to ensure your body is prepared for running.
4. Train to time not distance
During the first few weeks of running, focus on the amount of time you are running, walking or jogging instead of distance. Set a goal of 20 to 30 minutes and once you can successfully run for the entire duration, increase your time. Once you can successfully complete 45 minutes at your desired pace, map out the miles and steadily increase the distance you cover.
5. Understand your phases
Don’t just hit the pavement and start racking up miles. Instead, know that you need to form an aerobic base level by training at about a level five or six out of the maximum intensity of level 10. This is because “steady-state training” effectively teaches your body to burn fat as fuel. This will be important as you start to increase your distance. You can work on your speed later in your training.
6. Cross training
In order to become an efficient runner you must run. However, adding activities such as biking, swimming or leg-focused bodyweight and weight training to your weekly routine will help you to get fit, avoid boredom, and even boost running power. Weekly leg strength training keeps connective tissues strong, supports joints to help avoid injury and improves brain-muscle connection to the legs, resulting in better coordination and stride efficiency.
7. Take technique one day at a time
Pick one technique to work on each time you go out for a run. There are several things you can work on, such as:
- Foot placement – ensuring you are striking the ground between the mid- and forefoot
- Arm movement – ensuring you are staying relaxed as you pump your arms back and forth
- Posture – ensuring you keep a strong core
If you break down your technique one day at a time, you will not be overwhelmed and after a few weeks, you’ll have improved your running.
8. Mix in some hills
Add running uphill or on varied terrain to your program to build strength. This is because your posterior chain muscles, including the hamstrings, glutes and calves, have to work harder when you are running uphill.
You must schedule rest days into your program to allow your muscles to adapt to the increased workload and efficiently repair themselves. One to two rest days per week are essential for great performance.
Written by Vice President of Sports Performance and Fitness Samantha Clayton, OLY, ISSA-CPT