Over the years I have had so many people say to me, “Wow, how far?. I hate to run”. But my all time favorite that people say is “I could never do that, I can’t run.” Really, give yourself a break!. Yes you CAN run, but YOU have to believe that you CAN. I have always said that running is 90% in your mind. Tell yourself you’ll be miserable and you will be, right? It is scary to start anything, including running. When I started back to running after fighting cancer, it was scary for me. I couldn’t run for 5 years and I didn’t know what to expect but that fear is what gave me the determination to do it anyways. Trust me, the results were not only physical but mental too. Isn’t one of the reasons you want to start running is to be healthier? To feel better? Starting is hard. So give yourself the chance to like it and you just may. But you’ll need to start.
One of the first thing I see people who want to start running do is head down to the local discount store to pick up a pair of “running” shoes. Then they wonder why their knees hurt or they just don’t feel so good. There is a few things that I’m going to help you with in order avoid some running injuries and ease into the sport. Here are 8 tips that beginning runners should know.
1. Shoes! There’s a reason this is number 1 and yes it’s the most important. Get the right shoes for you!! Go to a specialized running store near you and have them fit you. They will analysis your gate to see what “type” of shoe you need. Yep, there are different types of running shoes and they will fit you for the that best meets your individual needs. Be prepared to spend at least $100 or more. Trust me, this is worth every penny if you want to stay injury free.
2. Cotton is rotten! What? Oh yea, wearing a cotton shirt is bad news, especially for men. Cotton doesn’t absorb the moisture and that will cause chafing. Trust me, this is no fun. Be sure to buy clothes that are made from synthetic fabrics such as spandex and polyester. These will pull the sweat away from your body. And ladies, please get a good supportive sports bra. Support your girls is so important.
3. Start slow and walk if you need to. There is no reason to try and run 5 miles on your very first time out. Try half a mile and see how you feel. It’s ok to take walking breaks if you need to. When I did my first half marathon I used a program designed by Jeff Galloway. His run/walk program has you run for a specific amount of time, then walk for a specific amount to time, the entire time. One of the key points is to do it from the beginning. Check out his website to get more information as well as some great training plans.
4. Hydrate. This is very individual and has so much to do with the weather and how much you sweat. A great way to measure if you are staying hydrated is to weigh yourself before a run and then again immediately after. You weight should not fluctuate more than a pound in either direction. Always have at least water on your runs and be sure to drink long before you get thirsty. I have a article just on hydrating so please read it.
5. Be aware of your surrounding and run against traffic, especially if your are running on a road. When running against traffic, you can see cars coming which will keep you much safer. Never assume the drive see’s you since they have so many distractions. Make eye contact with the driver so you know they see you. I have found this to be especially true when they are turning the corner but looking for cars in the other direction. We all love our music, but try to only wear one headphone so you can hear someone or something approaching from behind you.
6. Portion control. Just because you have started to run doesn’t mean you can eat anything and everything in sight. I hear this all the time, especially if you’re trying to lose weight (or maintain your current weight). Have a journal that you can keep track of your exercise/runs and calorie intake. This will give you a better picture of how many calories you are actually burning and taking in. Since you will be writing down everything, you will think twice before eating lots of high-calorie, high-fat foods after runs.
7. The unmentionable. It’s happened to all of us runners so I’m going to say it like it is. You many need to use the restroom very unexpectedly during a run. It is common for a runner or three to have a sudden urge to use the bathrooms. What causes it is what we call “runner’s trots”. Runner’s trot is usually due to the lack of blood flow in the gi. When it happens, because it will, please don’t be embarrassed to take a potty break. To help avoid from this happening try to not eat two hours before you exercise. It also helps to avoid coffee or tea and any high-fiber foods such as legumes, vegetables, some fruits, and whole grains. Of course, this isn’t the same for everyone so see what works for you. Try different things to see what works and what doesn’t.
8. Training plans. I think Couch to 5k Plan is a great place to start. It will give you a plan that is perfect for beginners. There’s also Runners World.com. RW has good information for the beginner as well as different distance training plans. Another great way to get into running and my favorite, is by joining Team in Training or USA Fit. I coached for years with both of these groups and I can’t count how many people never ran but tried it and are now loving it. There organizations are well organized and have scheduled run that you all do together. You’ll also meet other people that are are at your level and you may even make some life long friends. Look for these in your area.
Happy running to you! 🙂