New To Running? | A Beginner's Guide To Staying Injury Free
Have you ever seen someone jogging down the sidewalk, headphones in their ears and a smile on their face, and wondered how on earth they manage to find enjoyment in something as seemingly challenging as running? It is well known that running is one of the best forms of exercise you can find; it all-at-once builds both the cardiovascular system (i.e. the heart) as well as leg and core strength. Why is it that so many people find developing a running routine to be so challenging?
I struggled with my ability to go out and enjoy a run for as long as I can remember. Running was the method of choice for getting into shape for soccer when I was younger. For some reason, though, when you removed the soccer ball, the task required a herculean effort that left me out of breath and frustrated. Fast forward more than a decade later, and I have finally cracked the puzzle, having incorporated it as an almost daily segment of my fitness routine.
How did I do it? Here are the most important things I learned that helped me to get off the couch, strap on my running shoes, and even find enjoyment for the process.
First Walk, Then Run
For many of us, running right out of the gates may not be realistic. The truth is that running is difficult and requires a base level of fitness than many people won't have when they first start. The easiest way around this is to slowly build up to jogging by first segmenting the run into a number of walk -> jog intervals. Start out with 30 seconds of jogging, followed by a minute of walking. Continue with this pattern until you accumulate 5-10 minutes of jogging. From there, slowly work up to longer jogging intervals with less rest!
Invest In Good Shoes
It is worth spending the time and money to go to a proper running shoe store and have yourself fitted for a pair of quality running shoes. We all have different feet, so having an expert that can analyze your specific needs and recommend the proper footwear is imperative to not only your comfort but also for injury prevention.
Make It A Group Effort
The best way to pass the time running is to run with a group. Find someone of similar fitness and running experience level to you and work on building your stamina together! I cannot stress enough how much more enjoyable this makes running, so break out of your comfort zone and try it! If you are short on running buddies, there are a lot of places locally that you can link up with others. Apps like Meetup have tons of running groups in most places around the US, and typically cover all varieties of schedules as well. Another great place to check in with and get to know is your local running store. While it may be easier to order online or go to one of the larger chains, getting to know your local running store and the community around it can be a game changer. You will likely meet a friendly, inclusive, and motivating bunch who can help keep you on track and progressing towards your goals. They often hold weekly or biweekly running groups and will have a variety of different pace groups running. Get out there and be social, this is one of the best aspects of running!
Set Realistic Goals
Nothing is more motivating than knowing you are working towards something meaningful. Find a local 5k race a few months out and commit to showing up at the starting line as fit as possible! The time it takes you to complete the race doesn't matter; what matters is that you have a motivation to stick to your training even when you don't feel like it. Commit to getting outside your comfort zone; you might surprise yourself!
Running is truly one of the best forms of exercise you can commit yourself to. It is inexpensive, easy to learn, and the sky is the limit as to how far you can take your fitness. Like anything worth doing, the hardest part is putting yourself out there and getting started! It’s easy to feel frustrated at first, but if you stick to it I promise it will get significantly easier over time. Don't worry about how fast or far you are going, get out there and enjoy knowing that you are doing your health and wellbeing a huge favor! Who knows, you may end up liking it too!