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I Want to Start Running. Now What?
A Fitness Program with Proper Health and Physiology Information
If youve decided you want to start running, give yourself a pat on the back. Studies from a wide range of sources have found that running on a regular basis can help improve your health, prevent disease, make it easier to lose weight, increase your confidence, relieve stress, and help combat depression.
Additionally, running can give you a mental edge by helping you look at problems from different angles and keeping your memory sharp.
While theres a lot to gain from taking up a running habit, plenty of people still have a hard time actually sticking to it. In order to maximize your odds of sticking to a regular running regimen for years to come instead of just a few weeks or even days, here are three tips that should really help:
Dont Overdo Your Workouts
Like most physical activities, running requires you to build up stamina. The biggest mistake new runners make is thinking theyre going to go straight from zero to five or more miles a day.
The best case outcome of that approach is someone will simply burn out. The worst case is theyll seriously hurt themselves.
Theres no shame in starting with a very short distance. In fact, its one of the smartest things you can do. And if you dont feel like you have any athletic foundation to start with, its fine to kick off your program by just jogging or even walking.
Many recent inductees to the sport have great success with running a block, walking a block, repeat. How can you tell if you are doing too much too soon? One great strategy is to use a heart rate monitor like the Omron HR-100C Heart Rate Monitor.
Warm Up, Cool Down, and Stretching
Although it doesnt have to take a long time, its important to go through a routine before and after every run. While some people think that warming up and cooling down is a waste of time, its actually one of the simplest but most effective things you can do to minimize the odds of injuring yourself.
Many runners warm up by stretching; others simply jog at a very slow pace to get stretched out. This is especially important if you are running in the early morning because all your muscles contract while you sleep.
There are two basic types of stretching—ballistic stretching (bouncing) and static (going into the stretch and holding it for 60 seconds or more. The ballistic method used to be the method of choice but it has fallen out of favor because of the chance of injuring cold muscles.
What are effective stretches for runners or joggers? Easy answer—check out any book on yoga. All of these yoga poses will help your running and your overall health.
Listen to Your Body
When people attend alcohol and drug rehab centers, one of the skills they learn is how to truly get in touch with themselves.
Once they start practicing this skill, theyre often amazed at the things they discover. Experienced runners use a similar technique to stay in sync with their bodies.
As long as you pay attention to your body, it will give you all the information you need. And if that information indicates youre getting worn down, you need to give yourself a chance to rest and recover.
Hydration and Nutrition
Drinking water to replace fluids lost through sweating is essential. When enjoying your weekly long run or running endurance distances like the marathon or even a 10K, be sure you are also replacing lost electrolytes (sodium, potassium, etc.).
Immediately following a workout, be sure to consume a recovery drink or food to replace expended glycogen. Glycogen is your main fuel when running. When it is expended, stored fat is used, and finally, lean muscle mass.
What is the best recovery food/drink? There are many choices and there is a lot of commercial product hype out there. Basically, you want a combination of carbohydrates and proteins. Surprising to many, chocolate milk is the perfect choice.Committing to a running program is one of the best things you can do for yourself. And although there may be times when you feel like quitting, as long as don't overdo it and remember to always warm up, cool down, and listen to your body, youll be able to make running a standard part of your daily routine.
Follow the 10% Runners Training Rule
The 10% rule was developed for marathon training but is applicable for beginners running programs as well. It is designed to reduce fitness injuries and avoid over-training burnout syndrome.
It is a simple concept. No weeks total mileage should exceed the previous weeks mileage by more than 10% and no weekly long run should exceed the previous weeks mileage by more than 10%.
Maintain a Training Log
One of the best motivational tools as well as training aids, believe it or not, is not your smart phone. No, it is your training diary, if you will. You can download a running log here.
How detailed do you have to get? That is a personal decision. Important factors are weekly mileage, long run distances, speedwork or fartlek details, and mileage on your current running shoes so you know when to buy new ones.
For the more anal of us, the temperature is also important so we can track performance variables at different temperature and humidity conditions. This is helpful when plotting race strategies among other things.
Do you have any tips you would like to share? Please post them in the comment section below. Thanks!
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