Running 101 Part 1
Running is such a wonderful way to get exercise, but it isn’t always easy to take the first step. I wanted to take some time to share how you can start running and find your happy pace. If you are not currently a runner, think of this as your “Running 101″ course. And, if you are already a runner, think of this as a refresher course.
1) Why Run?
Each runner has a different story about how they got started running. It may be as simple as wanting to become healthier or as silly as not wanting your little sister to be better at something than you (cough cough, that would be me). The first thing you have to decide when you want to start running is why you want to run. What is your motivation for taking this journey? Why push yourself? What are you working towards? As much as we all want to be like Forrest Gump and keep running for days for no reason, we won’t be able to. You will get frustrated and tired along the way, but if you have a set goal or a specific reason motivating you, it will be easier to continue. Once you decide why you want to run, find a way to remind yourself so you can stay focused.
2) The Shoes
Your feet are going to take a beating (literally), so be nice to them and invest in a good pair of running shoes. Instead of just going to a department store, go to a specialty running store. The prices will be comparable to other stores and you can rest easy knowing you have the proper shoes. They are trained to help fit your shoes and make sure you are in the proper shoes based on your arch, and pronation (either rolling in or out). At a running store they should be able to give you a gait analysis to make sure you are fitted in the perfect shoes for you. A gait analysis (simply defined) is used to study your body mechanics, find any gait issues, and observe your stride. All you will have to do is walk or jog on a treadmill and someone will be able to figure your feet out! It is really important not to use your running shoes for any other activities other than your regular runs. Shoes have a limited lifetime and you will have to replace them fairly frequently. If you only use your running shoes to run, it will prolong having to replace them (for a little while). If you wear your running shoes to the gym, you will soften the soles and lose a lot of the cushioning you need to protect your joints from the impact.
3) The Clothes
Your running clothes are almost as important as your shoes. Make sure you have comfortable, light, slightly loose clothing to run in. You don’t have to invest in the most expensive and fancy outfits, but you do need to make sure you will be able to move easily. It is important to have a good pair of running socks that cushion your feet and wick away the sweat. Also try not to wear cotton clothing while you run because it traps the sweat instead of wicking it away.
4) The Warm Up
ALWAYS warm up before you do anything else. Try a few stretches followed by a brisk 5-7 minute walk before you begin running. This does not have to be anything overly complex, but it is vital to injury prevention and muscular longevity. I would suggest focusing on the joints that will be receiving the most impact and holding each stretch for a short amount of time (5-7 seconds). Below are a few ideas and a picture of the major leg muscle groups to stretch before you run.
- Roll the ankles
- Stretch the calf muscles (behind your shins)
- Stretch your quadriceps (the front of your thigh)
- Stretch your hamstrings (back of your legs)
- Roll your shoulders forward and backwards
Now that you are laced up, dressed up, warmed up, and pumped up, you are ready to run! Try to plan where you are going before you leave your house. You can map your run at http://www.runningmap.com/ so you know exactly how far you are going and where you are headed. As you start running try to keep an even pace and concentrate on your breathing. If you are a novice runner you may want to alternate jogging and walking a few times until you are able to go for longer amounts of time. If you get a cramp in your side it might be from not breathing correctly. Try inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Work on constantly challenging yourself, whether it is getting through a full mile or a full marathon. Never get discouraged and always stay positive.