Many people find running to be an intimidating hobby to get into, especially if this is their introduction or re-introduction into consistent exercise. Fortunately, the road to becoming a dedicated runner isn’t so difficult, as it is mostly about being consistent with your routine and consequently getting better. Here we will give you a set of guidelines to become a runner regardless of your past history – because in the end whether you’ve had a long life of different exercises or just getting into it, you’re still a beginner runner.
Top Tips to Get you Started:
1Before you start – Come Prepared
First and foremost, if you don’t already have a pair, get proper running shoes. No two pairs of feet are alike, just the same way no pair of shoes will fit perfectly on multiple people. You should find a store or brand that caters exclusively to runners, as the shoes you will find here are tailored for the best running experience possible.
Traditionally, when you buy in-store, you will be able to look around and find a pair that meet your needs – be it comfortability, stability, firmness, or helping alleviate a condition. But, with today’s busy schedules and time constraints, shopping for shoes online at Amazon has become extremely simple and effective. Remember, you’re going to be on your feet a lot, so expect to take care of your shoes with proper maintenance and clean them often to retain your shoe’s comfort and support.
With the right pair of shoes on your feet making it possible for you to endure physical stress without discomfort, you must now consider outerwear gear and depending on the temperature, you may be wearing a lot or a little. If you’re out in the warm sun for a long time, it is ideal to wear breathable and moisture-wicking clothing that can handle your accumulated sweat and keep you well-ventilated. On top of that, vaseline and sunscreen are also ideal for combatting the harsh rays of the sun that will beam down on you. If you’re out running in the winter, you’re going to need multiple layers, but not so many that movement is hindered or overheating will become an issue.
2Find a Plan or Set a Goal
With that out of the way, the next most important thing to consider as a beginner runner is a running plan! Finding the right training plan is a great step and a huge help as you turn into an actual runner. It takes all the hours of planning or guesswork out of your time and all you have to do is follow whatever the plan tells you to do. You have to find a plan that makes sense for you, and there are many great instructors, guides, and books for beginners. So, find the one that suits you best and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start slow – record your run distance, how long it took to complete, as well as how you felt afterward. The rule is to typically increase your mileage only up to 10% each week as to not overstrain yourself.
As for how you choose a set plan, of course you aim to find one catered to beginners, but your end goal determines what kind of plan to look for. If you’re aiming to finish a race, do a marathon, or weight loss, there are plans that help you achieve it – be it routes, techniques, or nutrition plans.
3Don’t Ignore the Warm Up or Cool Down
This cannot be stressed enough, but you must follow your training plan to a T. Your workout will definitely include a warm-up and likely a cooldown, and these steps are deliberate in nature. The warmup is there to get your heart rate up so that when you start running your body won’t be in a state of shock that you’ve stepped on the gas pedal and went from zero to one-hundred. It is also important as it gets your blood flowing and your muscles warm – this way, your major muscle groups will not pull when you’re on a run and thus avoiding those painful cramps when you get out of bed in the morning.
Also not stated often enough is the fact that many warmups teach you proper fundamental running posture through their simple and rhythmic ways. If you do end up doing your warmups whole-heartedly, you’ll find that good form will come quickly, and proper running form is a great way to avoid injury.
Similarly, your training plan will likely include a cool-down exercise, and skipping out on this is not recommended. After your body goes through an intense workout, it needs to recover and passively adapt to the new regimen you’re imposing. The reason this is important is that if you’re not recovering efficiently, you’re not going to be improving as quickly as you could be. More time spent resting poorly is less time building yourself up.
4Avoid Running When Hungry or Full
This might seem a bit obvious, but it is best to avoid full meals before running, as well as certain foods that can either make you feel bloated or cause indigestion (high in fiber or spices). The ideal light snack is one made of simple carbs that are easy for your body to breakdown into raw energy for your subsequent runs, such as oatmeal or a bagel. Aim to eat this light snack an hour and a half or two hours prior to when you intend to run, as that will be the prime time to make use of the extra energy. Don’t forget to stay hydrated on your run – it is of utmost importance to not only flush your body of toxins but also keep your body well hydrated for the road ahead
5Diet Determines Success
A big part of physical fitness, well-being, and efficiently running is powering your body with the right nutrients it needs to give it’s all. There are just as many different dietary philosophies out there as there are brands on store shelves. At its core, regardless of opinion, you eat to fuel your body. Junk food is just that, junk, and will not give you the energy you need how you need it. Treating yourself once in a while isn’t sacrilegious, but a diet consisting of only that will serve as a detriment to your running success. Treat yourself to whole foods and keep the junk food to an absolute minimum. Beyond this fundamental advice, anything goes, so do what you feel is right for you, since no guide or plan will hit the mark better than you can when it comes to meeting your nutritional needs. Follow a plan if it works, or change it up if it doesn’t, but always keep your food clean.
6Find Like-Minded Company
Runners are everywhere, literally, and it is easy to put yourself out there and network with other runners. They are the best source for support as well as a wealth of information and tips. While running alone can be serene and calming, longer runs are better shared with others. Company especially helps when it comes to keeping the commitment to running, as you’ll more than likely arrange schedules or dates to run together. It’s a great way to motivate one another especially on a day when your feeling lazy. It’s also a great bonding experience to have with your other half, whether it be your spouse or partner.
7Don’t Overdo It
Doing too much all at once or expecting to be able to put up certain speeds or distances is a common trap that beginner runners fall into. Your body needs to adjust to the new regimen it is being required to do for you, this means you should introduce your running routine gradually and not have unrealistic expectations set for yourself. There’s nothing worse than starting a new running plan only to get overeager, overuse your body, and experience injury, putting an end to that plan indefinitely.
By choosing a beginner plan and sticking to it, you will avoid this problem. If your plan says that a light jog is scheduled for the day, that is what you should do and leave it at that. Don’t go for an extra run, as you don’t have anything to prove to anyone and you should be doing this for yourself and your own self-improvement. You’ll find that most beginner plans start with walk-runs or less intensive jogging. Walk breaks or slowing down are a godsend to new runners, so don’t question your running plan and take it a break you need it. The less bearable your runs are, the less likely you are to stick to your plan and default.
The best advice is to always listen to your body and how it is feeling, not varying opinions from various running gurus. If you feel extra sore one day, take the day off and be better rested for the next run.
To conclude, we’ve given you the most fundamental building blocks to becoming a runner, even if you hate it. From pre-run preparation and gear to post-workout care and diet. If you adhere to these tips, running will become much less of a chore and more of a lifestyle. In the end, you will definitely love running rather than hate it, and it isn’t as hard as you think to get into since running is in our genes and our ancestors have been doing it for 1000s of years.