Starting running – Top ten tips – part 1
1. Get the right kit, especially running footwear
When starting running and depending on the time of year and conditions you will need various pieces of kit. The most important is a good quality pair of running shoes. Not forgetting a good sports bra for you ladies, sorry I can’t help you with that.
Visit your local specialist running store, they will be able to advise on everything you will need. There are many different types of running shoes to choose from. All come with various forms of cushioning. They could be stability running shoes, performance shoes, neutral and minimalist shoes, no one size fits all. We all differ and have different running styles. For example, you might overpronate, or have fallen arches, etc. Don’t get caught up on the colours or the look of the shoe. The most important thing is getting the right shoe, that suits your foot and running style. And, therefore comfortable when you take to the streets and start logging up those kilometres and miles.
Aside from running shoes, you’ll need a shirt or two, some shorts, a pair of running leggings, a runners jacket, a good quality pair of running socks and a runner’s pouch to put your keys or phone in. Other useful items are gloves, a cap, a beanie, a buff, a head torch, an armband for your phone if it doesn’t fit in your runner’s pouch, not forgetting hi-vis wear. It’s necessary to make sure you have the right kit for the conditions you are running in.
2. Start with a walk-run method
Running is a great way to get fit. I am an advocate of the walk-run method even if you are already active, but especially if you are new to running. Following a 0-5k (couch to fit) plan/app is a good starting point. Another option is to join your local running group/club. They will most likely have a 0-5k course for a minimal cost or even free.
I started by joining a running group in January 2017. I was slightly apprehensive as I hadn’t run for years. The beauty of joining a group is that everyone is in the same boat and want to start running. You don’t have to do it on your own. If you are already somewhat active, you might feel a 0-5k program sounds too easy, and instead to just run, and do your own thing. Don’t write-off a 0-5k program, you will reap the benefits in the long term. The programs are designed to ease you into running, build your fitness over time and avoid fatigue or injury. A less is more approach is the way to start. You don’t want to injure yourself shortly after starting running. Trust in the process, and before long, you will be out there running several times a week.
3. Try to maintain a good running form and posture
Good posture is important while running. It helps us move efficiently in a relaxed style, and to avoid injury, especially towards the end of a run when tired. Try to run tall with your head up, looking straight ahead avoiding looking down towards your feet. Running tall helps to position our centre of gravity properly. By doing so, it aligns our body appropriately, allows our lungs to expand freely making breathing easier. You will also be able to see the terrain you’re covering. Thus, avoiding any unnecessary obstacles which might potentially be trip hazards that could cause you to fall. To run in a relaxed style, avoid clenching your fists as this can lead to tension, and restrict the movement of the arms and shoulders. Try not to shrug your shoulders, allow them to drop without slouching, and maintain the running tall body position.
4. Make sure you warm up and warm/cool down properly
Before you start a run, it is essential to warm up properly. Otherwise, it could result in an injury. That’s the last thing you want. Not warming up increases the risk of pulling a muscle, tweaking a tendon, bone, or joint. If that happens, and you didn’t warm up, you will wish you had. Warming up raises your heart rate, increases your body temperature, enhances the blood and oxygen flow to the muscles you are about to use. In turn, this prepares your muscles, bones and joints, ready for your run.
Warm-up – The best way to warm-up is with a ‘dynamic warm-up’ – don’t confuse this with just dynamic stretches. A dynamic warm-up mainly consists of two parts. First of all, a light aerobic-warm-up to gradually raise your heart rate and the body’s core temperature, followed by dynamic warm-up exercises (dynamic stretching). Dynamic stretching involves performing sport-specific movements. These take your muscles and joints through ranges of motions and movement patterns in a way that mimics what you are going to be doing. Most importantly, this will better prepare you for your activity.
For the light aerobic warm-up take a brisk walk or light jog for at least 5 minutes. Walking or a light jog gradually will warm up and increase the blood flow to your muscles, tendons, and joints by taking them through a similar motion to that of running.
Once your body is warm, add the dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches can include, leg swings, walking lunges, high knees, butt kicks, carioca (grapevines), to name a few. When completed you should be fully warmed up, ready for your run.
Warm/Cool down – When you finish a run it’s also important to warm/cool down this can be done with another 5-minute walk or light jog, don’t just stop. Warming/cooling down helps your body to reduce the initial soreness in your muscles after your run and aids in their recovery.
After your warm/cool down walk or light jog, carry out a series of static stretches. Static stretches help to release the tension in tight muscles. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds, 60 seconds is the optimal length of time. Stretch until you feel a light pull, not pain, do not bounce, breath calmly and deeply as you hold the stretch. Your body will use oxygen to relax your muscles.
5. Stay Hydrated
Drinking water helps us to stay hydrated and maintain our hydration levels. 60 per cent of our body is made up of water, and it plays a vital role in every bodily function. Water helps us regulate our temperature, lubricates our joints, fuel our muscles and assists our bodies to perform at its optimal level. With that in mind, it’s important to stay hydrated and even more so in summer or in hotter temperatures.
The best way to stay hydrated is to be consistent and drink small amounts of water throughout each day. If we are not sufficiently hydrated or are dehydrated, we can feel tired quicker. As a consequence, our bodies won’t regulate it’s temperature so efficiently. The same goes for when we run. Before any run, you want to start fully hydrated. While running, you can lose a lot of fluid through sweating and breathing. Therefore, it is essential to rehydrate after the run.
Starting running can be difficult. Remember, like the phrase we have all heard, the hardest step for a runner is the first one out of the front door. I hope these tips and information help to make starting running easier. Enjoy your journey 🙂
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