The easiest way to start running is simply to do just that….start!
Now that it’s starting to get warmer outside, and with the current COVID-19 situation, the time has never been better to do something different. Running is beneficial to those who are looking to add some cardiovascular exercise to their fitness regime. It is a great way to stay in shape, and if you’re new to running, here are some tips to get you started.
1. Write yourself a schedule– Start out by planning weekly, and depending on your level of activity, most people will benefit from running three days a week for a minimum of 20 minutes.
Look up local running routes online, or use Google Maps to plan out a route depending on how long you plan on running for.
2. Listen to your body– It is normal to have minor aches and pains from a new form of exercise, and you may also experience muscle soreness after running from lactic acid buildup. The easiest way to prevent injury and muscular soreness is to start each run with a warm up, and finish each run with a cool down and some static stretching. Don’t start with too much volume; begin with a pace and distance that’s comfortable for you and progressively build up from there. This gives your body a chance to adapt to the new stimulus.
Example of a warm up: 5-10 minutes of light jogging followed by some dynamic stretching
Example of a cool down: 5-10 minutes of light jogging followed by some static stretching
3. Run/Walk– Depending on your level of fitness, it can be helpful to do a run/walk combination when you’re first starting out. One way to do this is to use landmarks along your route to help motivate you. For example, use lamp posts or hydro poles as a measure of distance. Run for three lengths, and walk for one. Repeat this over and over throughout your run.
4. Change it up– If you bore easily, the tempo run is a perfect way to keep your mind engaged throughout your exercise. Pick an awesome playlist, and plan it out with alternating fast-tempo and medium-tempo songs. Speed up your run according to the tempo in each song, and use the medium or slow tempo times to recover.
5. Challenge yourself– Try running without stopping for 10 minutes the first day, 12 minutes the next, and 15 minutes the following. Go for as long as you can without stopping to walk, and if you do need to stop, time out one minute and get back running again once that minute is up. You have to be willing to push yourself through a mild level of discomfort if running isn’t something you normally do.
6. Eat well and hydrate before and after– Try not to eat a large meal before running, as you might end up with a cramp. Instead, take small sips of water a couple of hours before you plan on running, and if you need a snack beforehand, try something like a banana or a couple of dates. During the run. only hydrate as needed; once every fifteen minutes is plenty unless its very hot outside. Afterwards, one of the best recovery meals is something liquid, like a smoothie or a protein shake. Try to avoid sugary sports drinks, and fuel your body with whole, nutrient dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and whole grains.
7. Have fun– This is the perfect opportunity for you to try a new form of exercise and fall in love with it! Running can be done throughout all seasons; rain or shine; snow or sleet. Some conditions are more ideal than others. Dress appropriately, enjoy yourself, and stay in shape during these uncertain times. Exercise is a form of self care, and running is no exception. It is fun for all ages, and is something the whole family can participate in!