Running is an extremely flexible activity. It’s got something for hardcore fitness buffs who can run a marathon a day, as well as newbies who just want to shed some pounds and live a little healthier. Another advantage is that it really doesn’t take much to get started, making it attractive to the more budget conscious athlete. But just because running is easy to get into doesn’t mean you don’t have to be careful getting started. If your body isn’t used to much physical exertion, going for a run beyond what your body can take can lead to pretty serious injuries.
To help you get started, consider these points before hitting the road to make sure you get off on the right foot (pun intended).
GET THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
Obviously, the most important tool for runners are the shoes. Choosing the right pair is absolutely crucial to avoiding injury and making running a habit. Some things to keep in mind before you buy running shoes are (1) what surface you’ll be running on, (2) how far are you regularly planning to run, and (3) what is the structure of your foot—are you flat-footed, an overpronator, etc? To help you sort out the details, the best thing to do is to consult a running coach or to go to a shop with knowledgeable staff.
Check out Spot.ph’s Top 10 Stores for Running Gear to get an idea of the best places to grab your next shoe as well as other running essentials.
BUILD UP YOUR PACE
One of the most common mistakes newbies make when it comes to running is underestimating the activity and overestimating their abilities. Doing so can lead to injuries, aches, and pains that will leave you sidelined for a significant amount of time, which can then completely turn you off to running. Instead of starting hard, try a pace that is comfortable and gradually build up. Many coaches advice going for a set distance at a comfortable pace without paying too much attention to your time.
Drink a minimum of 500ml about two hours before you run to make sure your system is adequately hydrated. If you’re going to run more than an hour, it’s a good idea to take a sports drink to replace the electrolytes your body naturally sweats out during a long run.
Warming up for a run prevents your muscles from cramping. A five-minute, comfortable walk is more than enough to do the trick. If you’re thinking of doing a full-on stretch routine to get you pumped up before a run, better not. Recent studies suggest that stretching before a run can actually do more harm than good. The idea is to warm up your muscles and not to fatigue them prematurely.
Modern exercise science actually considers recovery time as an essential, if not the most essential, part of training. Any form of physical exertion leaves micro-tears in your muscle fibers. Getting some R&R is your body’s time to heal those tears which will eventually make your muscles stronger. If you do not give your body time to recover, you get injured before you get better. So train smart and get some rest.
Running is a great all-around activity that works your legs, your core, and even your upper body, to some extent. However, any form of exercise has its limitations. Doing some weight training, rock climbing, swimming or any other form of cross-training to complement your running routine will not only give you a better all-around workout, but it will actually make your running game stronger as well.