Running is one of the best forms of exercise in terms of burning calories, building lean muscle, and improving cardio conditioning. It is also has the added benefit of being something that just about anyone can do without requiring any special kind of training or even a gym membership. Despite being an easy sport to get started with however, there are still some common mistakes that can trip up beginners. Here are a few that you should try to avoid to make your transition to becoming a runner a smoother one.
Don’t Ramp Up Too Quickly
Once through the initial challenge of building up the strength in both your legs and lungs, you’ll probably be tempted to start adding extra miles to your routine. That can lead to problems however, as taking on longer distances too quickly can result in injury. Most experts say you shouldn’t increase your distances by more than 10% per week, and those incremental jumps should only come after you have become comfortable with your current pace and distance.
Pay Attention to Your Shoes
A good pair of running shoes are essential to your enjoyment of running, which is why you should invest in a pair as soon as your mileage starts to increase. Your running shoes cushion your feet and legs from the repetitive pounding that is part of the sport, helping to reduce injury and speed recovery. But if your shoes lose their ability to soften the blow, your legs will become more fatigued and sore, making it harder to continue working out. Typically, running shoes will last for about 300-500 miles, depending on their overall quality, as well as your running style and weight. Be sure to keep track of how much mileage you have run to help judge the best time to go shopping for a new pair.
Maintain Good Form
Beginning runners don’t often think much about their form, other than hoping they don’t look silly. But it is important that they work on their mechanics early on in order to avoid picking up bad habits that will be difficult to break later. An efficient running style will allow you to run faster and further, while also lowering the chance of injury. The best way to run is to keep your back straight, and lean forward ever so slightly. Maintain a short, quick, and even stride, which helps to avoid overstriding. Keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle, with relaxed your hands that can move freely. Let your arms flow forward and backward in a natural motion, while avoiding swinging them from side to side, which can reduce efficiency dramatically. Concentrate on this process early on, and you’ll soon establish a running style that will stay with you forever.
Invest in Proper Running Clothes
While it is possible to run in just a cotton t-shirt and a pair of cut-off shorts, it isn’t necessarily a wise thing to do. Those types of clothing are not meant for demanding aerobic activities and are better suited for lounging rather than working out. Instead, invest in a proper pair of running shorts and a few shirts made from modern technical fabrics. These items of clothing will wick moisture, keep you cooler and drier, and will reduce chafing. Staying comfortable while out on a run will help you to enjoy the activity much more.
Don’t Forget to Fuel Up
Running is a demanding sport, and if you’re going to cover any kind of significant distances (5 miles or more) you’ll need to learn to fuel up properly, both before and after your workout. It is a good idea to eat a light meal or snack about 1 to 1.5 hours before your run. That way you’ll still have some food in your stomach that can help keep you moving while out on the road. Eating too much, or too close to the start of the run, can lead to an upset stomach and overall poor performance. On the other hand, not eating enough can cause you to hit a wall, and not have the energy you need to finish strong. Afterwards, wait for a bit before eating as well. Your body is still coming down from its strenuous workout, and eating right away can make you feel sick. Finding what works for you takes some time and practice, but it can pay big dividends in terms of how you feel before, during, and after your run.
Keep these tips in mind when starting your running routine and you’ll have an easier time with adapting to the challenges of running. Soon, you’ll feel like an old pro, feeling strong and fitter than ever before.