A Beginner’s Guide to Running

Have you been thinking of getting into running, but never been able to keep with it?

Or are you the kind of person that “just doesn’t like running,” but is having second thoughts now that exercise options are limited?

Let’s face it. Working out at home in front of the TV can have its benefits, but eventually we need to get out of the house.

Why not try running?

There are all sorts of benefits to running outdoors for exercise. We have the ability to explore our surroundings, see other people (from a safe distance), and get sunlight (and Vitamin D). And like all types of activity, there are noticeable physical and mental health benefits, too.

So if you’ve never been a runner you may be asking, how do I get started?

It’s worth considering potential barriers to becoming a consistent runner. We’ll break them down into two categories: physical and psychological. Physically, the endurance required to run is challenging, as well as avoiding overuse injuries. Fortunately, you can improve your endurance and avoid injury by starting slow and increasing mileage gradually. It’s good to start with some sort of base, and then slowly increase over time.

Our Athletic Trainer Jerod recommends starting with 20 minutes of intermittent walking and jogging three times per week. At first, jog for 1-2 minutes consistently, followed by a similar span of walking. Continue on-and-off until you reach 20 minutes. Repeat this three times a week for one week. The following week, increase the amount of time jogging to 3-4 minutes while walking only 1-2 minutes. Again, keep this to three times per week. The goal is to eventually build up to 20 minutes of jogging without resting. For some, this may take longer than others, but stick with it and you will be amazed that you can run for 20 minutes straight without resting. From there, increase running time by 10% per week. If you are tracking mileage, increase that number by 10% per week.

The psychology of running is another aspect worth considering. If you’re not a consistent runner, it’s common to feel like running is painful, boring, and unsatisfying. If you fall into that category, here are some tips to make running more interesting:

  • Find new routes and explore places you’ve never been.
  • Take notice of the environment around you. Enjoy the fresh air and budding trees.
  • Find or create a new playlist.
  • Once you’re done, treat yourself! You just did something to boost your physical and mental health, which we all need right now.

What shoes do I wear? 

Footwear is a hotly-debated topic in the running world. What type to wear, when to buy new ones, and even whether to wear shoes at all. Here are a few tips:

  • Ask an expert. At specialty running stores, they can help analyze your gait, talk about your running habits, and figure out the best shoe for you.
  • Beware of gimmicks like toe shoes, minimalist shoes, etc. Instead, try to find a shoe that is comfortable. If they aren’t comfortable in the store, they won’t be comfortable when running.
  • If you do buy new shoes, wear them around while walking for 1-2 weeks to break them in. Jumping into long runs with a brand new pair of shoes is a common way to cause an injury. For other questions, refer to this article from the American College of Sports Medicine.

How can I improve my performance? 

To improve performance (and prevent injuries), consider strength. Glute strengthening is most important, but so is core and other surrounding hip musculature. Every time you land on either leg while running, your hips and core are responsible for stabilizing your body. If these muscles are weak or fatigued, stride mechanics can break down, leading to potential overuse injuries. For a list of strengthening and stretching exercises prepared by our Athletic Trainer Jerod, visit this website and enter the code 6MTJXUN. Some of these exercises include planks, single leg deadlift, and stretches.

Finally, once running becomes more comfortable, it’s easy to fall into a habit of only running. However, remember to keep those weekly mileage increases modest to prevent injury risk. In the meantime, cross training can be a great way to maintain fitness while keeping mileage down. Check out our library of on-demand group fitness classes or find time to try a free live class led by our instructors.

Happy running!