Running’s popularity among people of all ages continues. Health benefits, social interaction, stress relief, charities/causes, and weight loss are a few reasons why running is such a draw to so many people. The main detractor from becoming a dasher? Newbies don’t know how to get started.
Here are 10 running rules for beginners to get you started on the right path:
• Start running on a treadmill or very flat terrain. Running is a very challenging activity, so don’t make it any harder than necessary when you’re starting out. For the first few months, stick to flat paths or run on a treadmill, keeping the incline low.
• Warm up and cool down. If you ease your body into each run, it will be easier to sustain the effort necessary to keep you going. Start and finish every run with three to five minutes of walking.
• Go shopping. Running requires very little equipment. All you really need is a good pair of running shoes and a supportive sports bra. For footwear, visit a local running specialty store and get properly fitted.
• Walk, run-walk, then run. If you’re brand new to regular exercise, start by walking (not running). For the first three weeks, walk 30 minutes several times a week. Gradually mix in a little running (15 to 60 seconds) for every two to four minutes of walking. Little by little you’ll run more and walk less and before you know it you’ll be running and loving it!
• Follow the three-week rule. The number one reason most people quit a new running regimen is they do too much too soon. Stick with the same routine for at least three weeks before you progress to allow your body time to adapt.
• Take the “talk test.” Remember, you want to start out easy. If you’re alone, recite the Pledge of Allegiance a few times. If you’re struggling to get the words out, you’re running too hard.
• Mix in activities you love. Increase your fitness level while decreasing repetitive muscle fatigue by cross training. Try yoga, Pilates, biking, skating or anything you love that gets you moving.
• Set a personal goal. A dangling carrot keeps your motivation flowing. Register for a local 5k or aim to run a certain number of miles or minutes each month.
• Track your progress. Keeping a log is a great way to see where you’ve been and remind yourself of where you’re going. Whether online or on paper, document each run. Include your time, pace and how you felt to see what’s working for you.
• Have fun! Research has shown that exercising with friend(s) helps you stick with a program. Many running stores and gyms offer running groups or programs. You’ll meet new pals and have a super-fun time on the roads.
Girl on the Run provides real-life training tips brought to you by Jessie Sebor, an accomplished endurance athlete who practices what she preaches. Sebor uses her column to provide tips, advice and guidance for runners—no matter their experience or pace. She shares more information and training plans through her magazine WomensRunning.com and on Twitter as @JessieSebor.