A few people have come up to me asking me the best way to start running. I figured I’d put my response here for future inquiries! Enjoy.
I’ve been running off and on since High School. I used to run track and cross country so running has been something I’ve always loved to do. It’s not for everyone and it’s definitely not something to just jump into full bore. Hopefully I can give you some pointers to get you started smoothly. This is basically what I did when I got started after not running for a good 5 years. I’ll link to another article that’s great at the end of my email.
*Before I actually hit the trails, I did the most important thing: BOUGHT A GOOD PAIR OF RUNNING SHOES. This will keep your chance of injury down and is probably the most important step. You’ll spend over $100 for a decent pair, and avoid big name brands like Nike or Reebok. There is a ton of info online about this. Do some research and choose wisely.
- EAT SOMETHING. Your body will need energy (especially when first starting out), so eat a banana or a clean protein bar (Quest bars or Rise Bars are the cleanest and most natural I’ve found) about 30 minutes before you head out. Drink a glass of water at that time too. Don’t eat or drink anything immediately before running, your stomach will get mad at you.
- STRETCH. There are a ton of basic stretches for running you can find online. Get a good 3-5 minute stretch/warm-up in before you run. Also, remember to get a good cool down stretch after your run. This will help with recovery.
- START OFF SLOW. The worst thing you can do is suddenly go for a 2-3 mile run for the first time ever (or after a good year or so hiatus). You’ll be sore for weeks and could bring on injury. What you want to do is schedule out your first month with runs that are doable at your fitness level. Schedule three running days per week (ex: M, W, F or T, TH, S). Never run two days in a row when first starting out. Your runs should not be for time at this point. Just focus on finishing them at a pace where if you were running with someone you could hold a conversation. I’d recommend starting at 1 mile each run and work your way from there. Once you’re able to finish a mile and feel pretty good, try tacking on another mile and so on.
- RUN WITH GOOD FORM. You should never have to swing your arms. Relax and keep them bent at your side, they’ll move with your body naturally but swinging them will exert extra energy. Your running form should be similar to your natural walking form. Straight back and you shouldn’t have to exert extra movement with your legs. You’re not sprinting, so stride is not important.
- HAVE FUN. Running can be daunting, but if you don’t overdo it and have the right tunes in your earholes, you’ll have a blast just being outside and getting some activity your body needs. No need to time yourself yet or totally exhaust yourself. It’s all about getting your heart rate up and being active. Get your body used to the movements and once you’re knocking out 2-3 miles with minimal effort you can adjust and start being more aggressive. But I would allow yourself a good month or so before doing that. Again, you want to avoid injury so let your body adjust naturally this first month.
- HAVE A GOAL. Sign up for a 5k, 10k or (once you’re ready to tackle it) a Half Marathon! Having a goal will be that extra motivation to push through on days where your legs are screaming. It doesn’t have to be an actual event. You can set a goal to hit a certain average pace or to nail a certain 3 mile time. Be creative!
Here is a pretty awesome Beginner’s Guide to running from NerdFitness.com. I love this site and have joined up with the Nerd Fitness Academy. There’s a ton of fantastic resources and the community is really great.
My current running schedule (after 3 months of building up to it) is this:
Tuesday: Sprint Workout (to improve time)
Thursday: 5-6 mile Medium Speed run
Saturday: 10 – 14 mile long run (I’m training for a Half Marathon)