Running is a great full body exercise that helps you increase your muscle strength and endurance, while also helping to shed a few extra pounds. You don’t need an expensive gym membership or fancy equipment to run, all you need is your own two feet and a good pair of shoes. Running is a good way to build self-confidence and increase your overall energy levels, and any runner knows that the runner’s high experienced after a difficult workout is worth every drop of sweat.
With all of its’ proven benefits and the versatility to run wherever, whenever, running is a cardiovascular exercise we should all do a little more often. While it may be fairly intimidating to step out of your comfort zone and run for the first time, these 6 tips can help set you on the right track towards becoming the runner you have always wanted to be.
Start Slowly & Listen to Your Body
Running is an intense exercise, even for those who have been working out for years. It’s important to always start slowly to prevent risk of injury or exhaustion. Following a run-walk pattern is a great way to slowly build up your muscle strength and endurance to eventually run the distances you want too. Begin by running for a short period of time, then transitioning into a walk as you feel your body telling you to slow down. Overtime, you’ll find that the intervals you spend briskly walking will drastically reduce while your run times will increase.
It is recommended for men to drink 12 cups of water (or roughly 3 litres) and women to drink 9 cups (a little over 2 litres) every single day. After hearing these recommendations set out by the dieticians of Canada, think about how much water you really drink a day… it is likely it’s time to up your water intake! Staying hydrated while running is important as it aids in lubricating your joints and keeping your energy levels high, while dehydration can cause dizziness, exhaustion, low blood pressure and even fainting.
Nourish Your Body
This is an extremely important part of running for two main reasons. First of all, it’s extremely important to eat healthy because the food we eat is the fuel to help us run for longer periods and further distances. Complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes, are digested in your body at a slower rate and don’t spike your blood sugar or cause your energy levels to quickly crash the same way simple carbohydrates do.
Properly nourishing your body goes further than just eating healthy foods, but also requires that you are eating enough. Keep in mind that the average person burns around 400 calories every hour they spend running, which means that those extra calories expended through exercise must be replenished through extra food. If you are not eating enough calories every day, your body cannot repair and rebuild its muscles and puts you at greater risk of injury and various nutrition deficiencies.
Having a proper pair of shoes makes all the difference when running. Those who run on a regular basis, and especially long distances runners know that shoe deterioration is inevitable over time. As you wear out your pair of running shoes, the shock absorption dramatically decreases and in turn your risk of injury increases, which is why it’s best for you to change your running shoes every 600 to 800 kilometres.
As for choosing the right shoe to run in, begin by looking at the shape of your foot and determining whether your foot type is flat, neutral or high-arched (you can find this out by taking the wet test). Once you know what category your foot type falls into, shopping for the right pair of shoes becomes a lot less complicated. Those with flat feet require a shoe with greater support and stability versus those with high-arched feet who will find a shoe with a fair amount of flexibility and midsole support works best for them. As for those with neutral feet, nearly any type of shoe will work, as long as the shoe provides them with moderate stability.
Don’t Let Your Mind Win
As much as running is considered a physical exercise, you are also working out your mind in the process. A lot of people who begin running listen more closely to their mind than to their body. This is problematic because your mind may be telling you to stop as it simply just doesn’t want to run, even if your muscles aren’t tired and can keep on going. Disregarding the voice in your head telling you to turn around and go back to bed is a very difficult battle to conquer especially for beginners. In these moments, think about the bigger picture: all of the goals you wish to achieve through running and the potential places it can take you, not the immediate discomfort you’re experiencing from the exercise.
Stretch, Stretch, Stretch!
Stretching is a crucial component of exercise that helps improve your flexibility, prevent injury and promote blood flow. Beware of the common misconception that you should be stretching both before and after your workout. Although stretching prior to exercise helps us increase our muscles range of motion, research suggests that doing so makes your muscles not only weaker but slower as well. Although your muscles may feel looser initially after stretching, it’s a better idea to wait until the end of your workout to stretch them out.
Consistency and Persistency are Key
No good things come easy— this applies to nearly every aspect of life, including exercise. Running is extremely rewarding, yet many of us give up on it relatively quickly due to how challenging it is at first. While you won’t become a record-breaking marathon runner overnight, remaining both consistent and persistent with the sport can set you on track towards becoming the runner you have always wanted to be. Planning your workouts in advance and tracking your progress are two simple ways to remain on top of your running goals, and rewarding yourself when you achieve these goals is also a great way to stay motivated!
By Julia Solimine