We as humans are made to run, and running is definitely one of the most popular forms of aerobic exercise. It’s free to do, with so many beautiful places to run around in our country, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best forms of exercise for your health. It has also become a new form of social activity, especially with all the new charity runs being organised every year, providing people a new challenge in a fun environment.
I do, however, have a lot of clients who don’t run, because they “can’t”. The truth is that it is a hard form of exercise when you first start running, and are out of shape. The joints can hurt, and the heart and lungs are put under pressure. However, I want to remind you that you are ultimately made to run. If this is something that you would like to do again in the future, I have provided you with 7 running tips that I feel are most important for beginners, to get you started.
1. Get the right running shoes.
Wearing the right running shoes is the key to comfort and injury prevention. Visit a running specialty store (e.g. Athletes Foot), to get fitted for the right running shoes for your foot type and running style. Also, make sure you don’t run in worn-out running shoes – they may cause bad technique, leading to stress or overuse fractures.
2. Make sure you warm up and cool down.
A good warm-up signals to your body that it will have to start working soon. By slowly raising your heart rate, the warm-up also helps minimize stress on your heart when you start your run. So you should start with some dynamic stretches to get the body moving. The cool down allows your heart rate and blood pressure fall gradually, so it’s important that you end your run with a slow 5-minute jog or walk.
3. Learn the proper upper body form.
Improper upper body form can lead to pain in your arms, shoulders, neck, and back. Try to keep your hands at waist level, right about where they might lightly brush your hip. Your arms should be at a 90 degree angle, with your elbows at your sides. Keep your posture straight and erect. Your head should be up, your back straight, and shoulders level.
4. Don’t worry about pace.
As a beginner, most of your runs should be at an easy or “conversational” pace. You should be able to breathe very easily and carry on a conversation. Don’t worry about your pace per mile — if you can pass the “talk test”, you’re moving at the right speed. Starting out with this type of easy running will help prevent overtraining and overuse injuries.
5. Try a run/walk approach.
Most beginner runners start out using a run/walk technique because they don’t have the endurance or fitness to run for extended periods of time. The run/walk method involves running for a short segment and then taking a walk break. As you continue with a run/walk program, the goal is to extend the amount of time you’re running and reduce your walking.
6. Don’t do too much too soon.
New runners sometimes get too enthusiastic and anxious to get started and end up increasing their kilometres too quickly — which can lead to injury. Don’t increase your weekly distance by more than 10% each week. Use common sense and follow a running schedule determined by your own lifestyle. If you’d like to do more, you could always supplement your running with cross-training aerobic exercises such as swimming or biking.
7. Breathe in through your nose and mouth.
Some new runners assume they should breathe in only through their nose. You actually want to breathe in through your nose and mouth to make sure you’re getting enough oxygen to your muscles while running. Taking deep belly breaths can help prevent side stiches, which are a common issue for new runners.