Running’s a funny thing. Those who love it swear by it; those who don’t, can’t fathom why. Whether you love it or hate it, the health benefits of running are simply undeniable.
- A study of runners showed that they have a 25-30% lower mortality rate
- Running can improve sleep quality
- Runners tend to have lower rates of arthritis and joint problems
- Running can improve cognitive function
- Running can help with depression
It’s no wonder that so many people absolutely love to run!
If you’re looking to reap the amazing health perks of running, but have no idea where to start, we are here to help! Here are our best beginner’s tips for getting into running.
1. Establish an end goal
It’s always easier to work towards something when you know what that “something” is. Before you begin your runner’s journey, establish an end goal. What are you working towards? That could be:
- A race, such as a 5k or a half marathon
- A mile time
- A specific distance
Better yet, pick a date you want to achieve this by, too. A goal and a date help to keep you motivated and light a fire under your behind! And that’s exactly what you need if you’d like to start running.
2. Get the right shoes
You wouldn’t play tennis with a baseball bat, right? So, why would you run in walking shoes?
It’s a myth that all exercise shoes are designed alike. If you’re serious about running, it’s imperative that you get the right shoes. Your feet are your most prized equipment when it comes to running, so support them with the best long distance running shoes.
A good running shoe should be:
- Lightweight, so as not to weigh your feet down
- Cushioned to support you with every stride
- Breathable to keep airflow circulating around your feet
- Durable, so they can last for miles upon miles
Unsure which shoes are best? Head to your local specialty running shoe store. They’ll assist you with finding the right shoe to fit your feet’s needs.
3. Set your running schedule
Just like every other new skill, running takes lots of regular practice. Sporadic running may be good exercise, but it won’t bring about major gains. If you want to see progress, you need to run on a regular schedule in order to build your endurance and stamina.
Commit to running 3 days per week. Two of those weekly runs can be between 25 and 30 minutes, while the final run should be longer—about 45 minutes. Remember to rest in between; recovery is just as important as the running itself!
Consider getting an activity tracker to hold yourself accountable.
4. Don’t forget to stretch!
No matter the run you have ahead of you, you always need to stretch. Your muscles and joints don’t know that you’re about to get moving, and they need time to properly prepare. If you skip the warmup, you put yourself at risk for muscle strain or even injury. 10 minutes of stretching can get your muscles and joints properly warmed up and ready for action!
Pre-run stretches should be dynamic rather than static. They should involve a good deal of slow, steady movement to get your muscles going. Here’s a good list of dynamic stretches to get you going:
- Standing hip rotations
- Standing hip flexor stretch
- Lateral squats
- Standing hamstring stretch
5. Start slow
While you may envision a 20 minute jog around the neighborhood on your first day, you likely won’t be able to do that. Running is a lot more exhausting than you think it is, especially as a beginner. Instead of aiming for a consistent pace, new runners should think in intervals.
Start at a walking pace to get your heart pumping. Then, alternate running and walking in 5 minute intervals. If a fast-paced run is too exhausting, jogging is perfectly fine, too! Remember that the goal is endurance, not speed. Think “tortoise” rather than “hare”.
Running as a beginner is extremely intimidating, but as long as you follow these tips, you’ll see progress! Remember to start slow, stick to your schedule, eat well, and most importantly, have fun. Happy running!