Beginning runners can follow these simple tips to reduce injury and run for longer distances. Running doesn’t have to be hard to be fun and beneficial.
Running is a great way to improve one’s health and get into shape. You can do it almost anywhere at anytime. Below are a few tips to help you get started with running so that the sport remains both enjoyable and safe.
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Wear Actual Running Shoes
It’s generally not a good idea to throw on a pair of old sneakers to go running. Non-athletic shoes are not designed to help the legs and feet absorb the shock of running, which increases one’s chance for injury. In addition, certain athletic shoes (such as those made for playing basketball) aren’t designed to handle the foot motions associated with running.
The best thing for a new runner to do would be to purchase a sturdy pair of good running shoes, which are priced anywhere from $40-$80 and last about 300 to 500 miles. If running shoes are not currently available, cross-trainers can be used in the meantime.
Ideally, eating according to the basic format of the food pyramid is the best way to eat healthily. While it may be hard to stick to a strict diet, these basic tips are a simple way to eat better and make your body more ideal for strenuous activity:
- Cook more and keep fast/frozen food (such as TV dinners) to a minimum. Not only is cooking from scratch healthier, it’s cheaper as well. Collect a few simple recipes that are both healthy and easy to make. Rice is cheap, convenient, and goes great with most food staples. It’s also a good way to get whole grains into one’s diet. Brown rice is better than white.
- Drink lots of water.Water is best for runners. Soda/coffee and alcohol dehydrates the body, and alcohol may nullify any effects gained from working out if you’re a habitual drinker, since it prevents muscle growth. Milk and juice can make one gassy, which can be very inconvenient during a long run.
- Consume sports drinks after a workout for optimal results.Sports drinks will restore electrolytes lost from running and rehydrate the body.
- When snacking, go for healthier options. The benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables over foods high in sugar content are obvious – you get more fiber, less fat, and they give you more energy in the long run. Orange juice and bananas are a good source of potassium, which help alleviate stomach cramps during runs. Consider popcorn with little or no butter over chips.
Stretch/Warm Up Before Runs
Stretching and warming up are necessary before any run. At a minimum, do about seven to 15 minutes of light jogging to get warmed up and stretches that benefit the quads, hamstrings, and calves, all muscles used during running. If a certain part of your body tends to get more sore when you run, look up stretches that help alleviate that part of the body.
Set a Regular Running Schedule
While how much you should run depends on your fitness level, the basic idea is that you want to start somewhere not too difficult so that you can build up to a routine that you can follow regularly. If you have been sedentary most of your life, you may want to start by running/jogging for a short period of time, followed up by bouts of walking. As you get in better shape, you can increase the run time and reduce the walk time until you can run the path continuously.
Even for more advanced runners, it’s not a good idea to run every day. Fatigue and not allowing your body enough time to recover greatly increases the risk of injury for runners. If you’re in good shape, you can try running for 35 to 60 minutes at a time, three to five times a week.
By following these simple tips, new runners can establish a regular running routine and over time, increase endurance and become better and stronger runners.