How to become a runner. I think I can (finally) say that spring is officially here and I say that because I’m seeing more and more runners out in the city. It’s always a good sign when you start seeing neon clothing breezing by. It’s no wonder really, because running is relatively easy to start doing and you don’t need a lot of specialized equipment. Plus, the world is open 24/7, so you can go pretty much whenever you want to. For many of us, it’s just a simple matter of throwing on a pair of running shoes, loading up our playlists and heading out the door. What if you are just coming back to working out after a major hiatus or what if you were never a runner? Is it just that easy?
HOW TO BECOME A RUNNER
The time. Although you can go whenever you have time, it’s a good idea to set aside at least 30-45 minutes, 3 days a week if you are just starting out. Consistency is always key and this way, you can get your body into a rhythm. Also, don’t worry so much about how long you are going for or how far you run. If you start focusing on the big picture, you’ll just psych yourself out and give up. Instead, think about the minutes and break it down into manageable bits. I once read about an Olympic athlete who said that she breaks her workouts into 2 minute sequences and by telling herself that she can do anything for that amount of time. I’ve actually adopted this method when I feel like my lungs are going to burst and it really works. Keep in mind, your 2 minutes might just be 30 seconds to start and that’s okay.
What to wear. When you are just starting out (and just doing a minute or two at a time), it’s okay to wear the sneakers that you currently own as long as they have some support. Don’t get way too ahead of yourself by buying the most expensive shoes you can find because you might find that you actually hate running. As you start gaining traction and going for longer runs, it’s wise to invest in a decent pair of running shoes. You’ll also have an advantage at this point because you’ll know where your current shoes don’t measure up. Are they uncomfortable in certain places or are you getting blisters or bruised toes? These are all issues that you can bring up at your shoe fitting. Read, How To Buy The Best Running Shoes for more information.
Warm up and cool down. I don’t care if you are only going out for a short run and running for a few seconds at a time, you still want to treat your body with respect by performing a proper warm up and cool down. Go slow at first and start by walking around. At the end of your run, schedule a good 10 minute stretching session, focusing on your hips, hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Keep in mind that it’s quite likely that you will get sore and will feel stiff and old for a few days. As long as the stiffness dissipates over the next few days, you are just fine. See a doctor if then pain persists or is acute.
Don’t go too fast. Remember there’s a difference when you are breaking into a sprint to catch the bus versus a lengthy run. When you are just starting out, a good pace to aim for is one where you can hold a conversation with someone while being minimally out of breath. Once you get used to this, you can increase your cardiovascular capacity by doing short 30 second sprints every few minutes. Another option is to run up a hill. You might be cursing me out and that’s totally okay, but you’ll see how quickly you gain both muscle and lung strength.
Don’t eat too much. It’s so easy to gain weight when you first start running because you’ll feel hungry. Although you are burning more calories, don’t go overboard with the food. Have a healthy snack like a banana or some nuts post run to curb any cravings. I personally prefer to run first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, but that doesn’t work for everyone. To give you enough energy, have a small snack which includes both carbohydrates and protein about an hour before you go out. This can be a small greek yogurt sprinkled with some nuts.
If you need a little help, I’ve put together a Beginner’s Guide To Running that will get you off your couch and running for 30 minutes straight in a few short weeks! Just click on the photo to download it now:
Do you have any tips for beginner runners?
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