Walk Before You Can Run
We have all heard the saying that you need to learn to walk before you run. In this case I am taking the interpretation literally. Many people looking to lose weight and get fit often turn to running to increase calorie burning and cardiovascular endurance and health. Unfortunately often people quit running as quickly as they get started due to injury and lack of progress in reaching their goals Below are my tips to safely start running:
1. Walk before you run. This sounds simple enough but most people that start running don’t have enough endurance or strength to run for any duration long enough to see the benefits. Start walking and build up endurance first. As walking gets easier increase speed and distance.
2. Once an endurance base is established start slowly. Incorporate short slow jogging intervals into walking sessions. Gradually increase the length and speed of the jogging intervals until you are able to complete the exercise session with more jogging then walking.
3. Invest in good quality running shoes. Poor quality running shoes will lead possible ankle, knee, hip, and back injuries. For proper fit and type of shoe being fitted at a running store by a professional is recommended.
4. Replace your shoes often. Running shoes have a life on average of 300-500 miles depending on how hard the runner pounds on them. A consistent runner should alternate 2 pairs of shoes between runs and replace shoes every 3-6 months depending on mileage.
5. Don’t run every day. A new runner should allow recovery time of 2-3 days between runs until endurance, strength and skills are developed. Walking, biking or yoga can be done on non running days and will aid in recovery.
6. Increase mileage slowly. This is the biggest mistake runners make. They go too fast, too far, too soon. The result is usually stress fractures.
7. Hydration is important to runners. The general rule is drink 1 ounce of water for every 10 minutes of aerobic exercise. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, poor performance and injury.
8. Pace yourself. Heart rate monitors are great tools to insure that your heart rate is in a safe and effective range. In general terms running will increase heart rate hire then walking. Keep your exercise heart rate between 50% and 85% of your maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate can be found by the formula 220-your age.
9. Vary your run course. Mixing things up will reduce boredom and increase performance. Be sure to choose running courses with a mixed terrain of flats and hills.
10. Running on a treadmill is not the same. Treadmills are great for certain aspects of training but if you are trying to prepare for an outdoor race like your first 5K you won’t be prepared. Biomechanics, elevation changes, and outdoor environmental conditions are much different. On a treadmill always run with at least a 2% incline. This will help mimic certain environmental conditions. Changing elevation on a treadmill in intervals will mimic outdoor conditions better.
11. Always cool down and stretch after a run. Walk for 5-10 minutes at the end of a run and stretch. This reduces blood from pooling in the limbs and increases recovery.
12. Technology helps. GPS watches, smart phone apps, and websites that log progress can all help improve safety and performance.
13. Run with a friend or join a running group. All ability levels are welcome in running clubs.