Let’s face it, running might be a great workout, but getting started can be really, really hard.
Many beginning runners find it very discouraging that neither their legs, nor lungs, are up to the challenge at first. But if you stick with it you’ll soon find that running not only leads to a healthier lifestyle, but can be very fulfilling too.
If you’ve been struggling to get through the early stages of beginning run training, there are a few things you may be able to do to get you on track, and heading in the right direction.
Invest in a Good Pair of Running Shoes
Nothing has an impact on your overall running experience more than the shoes that you wear while out on the road. That’s why it is so important that you not only buy a proper pair of running shoes, but that you switch them out on a regular basis too. A typical pair of shoes is good for approximately 400-500 miles before they start to lose their cushioning and support.
When you start to notice that your legs aren’t bouncing back they way they should, it’s probably time to go shopping again.
Dress the Part
In addition to keeping your feet happy, wearing the proper clothing can help the rest of your body to stay comfortable while running too. Be sure to purchase running shorts and shirts that incorporate fast-drying technical fabrics rather than cotton. These products are designed to wick moisture away from the body, which helps you to stay dry and regulates your temperature in both hot and cold conditions. And don’t forget to invest in some good running socks, as they can provide extra cushion while also reduce the chances of developing blisters or athletes foot.
Running is such a natural activity that it’s easy for beginners to jump right in, and start seeing results fairly quickly. But it’s important to remember to go slow, pace yourself, and amp up your distance and speed at a gradual pace. It can take some time for your body to adapt to the new demands that you are placing on it, so learn to be patient at first. Over time you can add more mileage, and go at a faster pace, but not until you have established a solid level of cardiovascular fitness, and allowed your muscles of acclimated to running longer distances on a regular basis.
Set Achievable Goals
When first starting out, it’s important to set realistic and achievable goals for yourself. Those goals should reflect your current level of fitness, but also give you something to push for as well.
For instance, beginner runners may not want to think about distances at all, but instead concentrate on time. You could, for example, set a goal of running for five minutes without stopping, and then take a one-minute break, before going it again. Over time, achieving that goal will become easier, at which point you’ll want to extend the duration of the run, and lessen the length of the break. Eventually you’ll be running for extended periods of time without having to stop at all, and covering specific distances will become more important.
By setting smaller goals, you’ll actually be able to achieve what you set out to accomplish, and give yourself something realistic to strive towards.
Runners, more than just about any other athlete, are susceptible to dehydration. This is particularly true as they add more mileage to their workout routine. Make sure that you drink plenty of water before going on a run, and make it a standard practice to rehydrate afterwards too.
Once you start running longer distances, say 5 miles or more, you may want to actually think about hydrating during the run as well. This is especially true if conditions are particularly hot, such as during the summer months or in warm climates. Carrying a water bottle with you will help replenish lost fluids on the go, and keep you running stronger overall.
Don’t Avoid Hills
Admit it, running up hills is tough, and requires a lot of hard work. It’s far easier to find a flat route to run instead, and avoid all of that pain. But running up hills will also push you to train harder, and will work your cardiovascular system and leg muscles to a much higher degree. If you want to improve as a runner, you’ll eventually have to learn to not only live with hills, but love them too.
Change it Up!
A good running routine can be a great way to relieve stress and exert some pent up energy. But when that routine gets stale, it can become a real chore instead.
Mix up your workouts by running different routes. Concentrate on running faster on some days, and longer distances on others. Run in a different part of town just to get some new scenery. The point is that if drudgery sets in running will feel too much like work, and you’ll want to avoid it as much as possible. But if you can find ways to keep it fresh and interesting you’ll end up loving your running routine even more.
Join a Local Running Group
There are literally thousands of local running groups across the U.S., and they can be a great resource for beginning runners. Not only are these groups a great place to gain practical advice, they can turn your workouts into a more social experience too. Most running groups welcome runners of all ages and skill levels, so chances are you’ll find someone else who is a beginner too.
Respect the Rest Day
Rest days are important for runners. They give our bodies time to recover, as well as a bit of a break from the routine. Always try to respect the rest days on your training schedule; they will provide recuperation time for you muscles, as well as your mind. Overtraining can lead to injuries and nagging fatigue, but rest days can help stave off those issues and actually lead to better performance overall. After all, it is hard to run at your best when your legs are exhausted or you’re constantly battling a nagging muscle pull.
Give yourself a break and take at least one or two rest days a week. Your body will thank you.