Health Matters | A Beginner's Guide to Running

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A Beginner's Guide to Running

Looking for a low-maintenance way to exercise? With health benefits like building strong bones and improving cardiovascular fitness, running is a great way to get and stay in shape- and all you need is shoes! Running can also help manage weight and relieve stress, leading to a happier and healthier lifestyle. Looking to get into running? Check out these 8 tips for beginning runners:

Get the right pair of running shoes: Don’t just pick the cutest running shoes. Head to your local independent running store to get properly fitted. First time buying running shoes? New runners may want to splurge on shoes that are more protective against knee injury as proper running shoes can prevent past or current injuries from worsening. Shoes with good support and cushion may also help prevent new injuries from occurring. Don’t just pick the first pair you see, try on multiple brands and styles to find the running shoe that is best for your foot type. During exercise, the feet swell and expand so runners need to accommodate this with enough extra space in the shoe. When searching for the perfect fit, it is recommended that you have at least a thumb width of space in the front of the shoe. Running shoes should be ½ to a full size bigger than everyday shoes.

So now you have your new shoes, but breaking them in is never fun. Runners should be careful to work new shoes in gradually, rather than running a marathon in brand new shoes. Keep old shoes in rotation until new shoes are comfortable and worn in.

Remember you won’t start out breaking any records: Many new runners experience a dip in fitness level when just beginning. It takes the body about four to six weeks to acclimate to the new workout routine. This may cause new runners to become discouraged from feeling “wiped out.” Don’t give up! Give your body time to get acclimated to this new activity and you will eventually push through beginner’s struggles. Understand that you will be tired and strained in the beginning, but it only gets easier with repetition and persistence. Don’t strive to do too much too soon- take it easy in the beginning.

Join a running group: Exercising with people that share the similar interests and goals will help you enjoy your new hobby. Maybe not feeling a run today? Joining a group will also hold you accountable to your group members making it harder for you to slack off with your exercise regime. Find a group to keep you feeling motivated and inspired.

Make running a habit: Getting out and running every day may seem hard at first. Making sure that you stick to a plan will help you make running a habit while also keeping you interested. Setting up a running plan will help keep you on track with reaching goals and moving forward with training. Local running stores and clubs may offer a running plan for beginners to follow.

Build mileage gradually: Don’t worry about your pace right off the bat. Go for distance rather than speed. Focus on a distance goal and keep a comfortable pace in the beginning. Giving it all you have will result in your body tiring out. As distance becomes easier, gradually increase speed to keep pushing yourself in training. Set small goals that are achievable, don’t set out to run 5 miles the first day. Setting small goals that are achievable will motivate you to keep working without overwhelming yourself. Move forward by setting daily, weekly, and monthly goals and working to achieve them. Start with goals like running nonstop for 5 minutes, entering a race, or running every day.

Remember breaks are okay: Rest is just as important as your workout. Getting enough rest between workouts will keep you from feeling sore, tired and slow. For beginners, it is recommended to have a day of rest between runs. Even during a run, take regular walking breaks to give your body time to rest. Beginners should aim to run for a short time followed by a walking break. Repeat this structure, gradually increasing mileage and speed while also increasing time between breaks.

Keep a running log: A running log will help you to keep track of your mileage and goals. Keeping a regular log of your goals, accomplishments, milestones, and even injuries can help you with your training. Choosing obtainable goals and writing them down will help you formulate a plan to achieve them. It is also beneficial to include a weekly self-evaluation. This will keep you on track and also help you focus on what you can improve on to become a more efficient runner.

Mix in cross training: Cross training helps to keep the body in balance. Taking a regular break from running will help give the body time to rest. Try alternating between running and a low impact workout like swimming or hiking. Cross training will help to prevent injuries like shin splints that occur form overuse. Cross training helps runners to increase their power, efficiency and time spent running without feeling fatigued.

Get out and enjoy the summer weather while it’s here- just don’t forget to stay hydrated! Grab your running shoes and a friend and establish a routine and you’ll be running like a pro in no time!

Looking for more information on running or beginner’s guide to running races? Check out the Mayo Clinic's website.



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