Without a doubt, running is one of the best forms of physical activity you could partake in. Not only is it a fantastic cardiovascular workout, but it also can help strength train your legs, allow you to shed unwanted pounds, and even improve your mental health, as well. However, many novice runners can understandably feel daunted when trying to explore this sport, especially with so much misinformation out there about what it encompasses.
Fortunately, running is surprisingly simple, as it merely entails putting one leg in front of the other at a slightly elevated rate of speed. Despite how easy it is, though, there are a few nuances to it that fledging athletes must keep in mind to ward off injury. By keeping these five guidelines in mind, you can take your fitness to a whole new level, avoid inadvertently sidelining yourself, and conquer your next 5K with ease.
Choose the Right Shoes
The first parts of your body that get in contact with the ground are your feet, so it is obvious that the type of footwear that you are going to use must be at the forefront of your mind. That said, not all feet are made the same, and because of this, it’s important to pick out the right kind of shoes for your needs. For instance, some of us are overpronators (our feet roll inward), whereas others are supinators (they roll outward).
You also want to take a closer look at the size of the shoes. While your standard street-size of shoes may work well for everyday activities, many people’s feet tend to swell when they run. Because of this, you may want to consider sizing up a half-size when choosing your running shoes. When in doubt, pay a visit to your local running store. Many offer complimentary fittings, allowing you to pick out the best ones for your needs.
While it’s tempting to pull up a marathon training plan even before you’ve made your first trip around your block, it’s important to be sure to pace yourself – no pun intended. The excitement of starting out can certainly propel you out the door, but if you train too hard in the beginning, it can backfire and lead to injury. Instead, take it slow, both literally and figuratively.
The average person walks at a rate of approximately four miles per hour. Anything beyond that, therefore, reasonably qualifies as running. To help you avoid shin splints, stress fractures, or even burnout, try to avoid sprinting too much. A moderate pace is much better for running newbies, as it can allow you to cover more ground. On that note, try to avoid running for too long in the beginning, as this can also lead to injuries.
Focus on Recovery
You might be surprised to learn that the most important part of training isn’t necessarily the run itself. It’s the recovery that follows it. Scheduling in rest days is critical, as this can help allow your sore muscles to heal following a strenuous workout. Failure to adhere to a rest schedule can also increase your risk of injuring yourself, leading to an end to your running career even before it starts.
Dehydration is arguably one of the worst things that can happen to a runner. It’s far too easy to ignore the subtle signals your body is giving you during a run, especially if you’re aiming for a PR (personal record) or trying to push yourself to achieve a different running goal. Not only can it actually impair your running, but it can also be potentially life-threatening, as well.
Hydration starts the day before your run. Yes, it can be tempting to want to chug a glass of water before you dash out the door, but you’ll want to make sure you get at least two liters of water the day before. On race day, sip – don’t gulp – water throughout the day for optimal hydration. Furthermore, using hydration packets can help prevent complications, as they contain key electrolytes to help replenish your existing levels.
Become a Runner
Many amateur runners struggle with self-doubt, and it’s not uncommon to wonder if you are a “real” runner. The comparison trap can further exacerbate this uncertainty, as it can be daunting to see elite runners when you’re simply taking a leisurely jog around your neighborhood. Ultimately, though, if you’re running, then you’re a runner. And by including this sport in your lifestyle, you can reap all of the wonderful benefits of this amazing cardio exercise!