We all know that some of us love running, while others dread even the thought of it. But running comes with tons of physical and mental benefits. No matter what your fitness level is, you can always give running a try to reap its superb benefits.
In this article, we’ll talk about the top tips that’ll guide you on how to start running and stick with it in the long term. You’ll also learn how to improve your running as you get better.
Setting Realistic Goals
Most beginners quit running because they dive right into an advanced running program. A couple of days into it, they suffer from sore muscles and can’t get up from the bed the next morning. Running is a gradual process. If you’ve been out of shape for quite a while, you need to slowly get accustomed to the exercise. Start with small goals and gradually build upon them.
Get Yourself Good Running Shoes
Before you get fancy items like trackers or GPS devices, you must get a good pair of running shoes. A good pair will ensure that there are fewer risks of injuries. Your running performance will also be a lot better if you run with a good pair of sneakers. Get something around the $100 range; don’t settle for cheap options. It’s wise to look for the best running gear with positive reviews before making the purchase.
Absolute Beginner? Walking is Your Best Friend
As mentioned before, running is a gradual process. You need to slowly get accustomed to it. Walking is a good way to step into the world of running. You can try 10 rounds of 1-minute brisk walking and 1-minute jogging. As an absolute beginner, you need not do this workout more than three times per week.
Did Cardio Before? Challenge Yourself a Bit More
If you do have some experience in cardiovascular activities like playing some football or tennis, challenge yourself a bit more. Try to run anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes 3 times a week. A slow and steady pace is good enough, especially if you’re starting after a long break.
Don’t Exhaust Yourself Too Much
There are many enthusiastic new runners who exhaust themselves by running too hard. Always remember, the pace at which you run should allow you to converse with someone somewhat comfortably. There is a trick which you can give a way to measure this. While running if you can hardly talk aloud, you’re going too fast. If you can talk comfortably with some heavy breathing, then you’re running at the right pace.
Stretching Before a Run is a Big No
Don’t stretch before a run. According to most fitness experts and recent research, this increases the risks of injuries. As a result, you’ll also see a downfall in your running performance. What you can do is warm yourself up for around 5 minutes. Bodyweight warmup activates the muscles, loosens up the joints, and elevates your heart rate. It also helps in preventing injuries.
Rest Days are Important
Rest days allow your muscles to recover from the stress. The muscle fibers in your body need to be repaired from wear and tear after a workout. So make sure that you throw in a rest day between two running days.
One Long Run Per Week
Once you get used to running on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to introduce a longer run once a week. This will challenge your body and train your endurance- your overall running performance will get better. After every two weeks, add a mile to this long run.
Don’t Overlook Strength Training
You should try some strength training post-workout. By strengthening your muscles, you’ll reduce the risk of injuries in the long run. The strength training sessions need not be too hardcore. 10-15 minutes of it is good enough. You can do some leg and core training along with some hip-strengthening moves.
Once You Get Better, Add Strides to Your Workouts
Strides are short bursts of running of around 95% of your max speed. At the end of your regular run, try doing 3-4 strides. You should take some rest between strides- 45 to 90 seconds. As you get better with time, slowly increase the number of strides. Strides are great for improving your running performance- you learn to run more efficiently with reduced effort.
The Next Step – Speed Workouts
Speed workouts will challenge your body to take your running to the next level. It’s also a great way to improve your physical fitness further. Make sure you’ve mastered the strides at first. Usually that won’t happen before six weeks of running strides. In a typical speed workout, alternate between slow jogging and hard running. When starting out with speed workouts, don’t do more than one session per week.
Consistency is the Key
Don’t think too much about the distance that you’ve covered or the speed at which you’re running. Don’t rush with your workout plan. You’ll get better gradually as your breathing gets better along with your technique. Sticking with the plan for a few months will give you surprising results.
Use an App to Track Your Progress
There are tons of awesome running apps with lots of features out there. They can not only help in tracking your progress but many also offer different running plans and coaching services. You can track your progress and share those on social media through the app. This will motivate you to stick to your running plan.
Reward Yourself Every Once in a While
For every milestone reached, reward yourself with a healthy snack or a movie ticket. Enjoy the process – running won’t feel like a chore once you start achieving the small goals that you’ve set for yourself every week.
Last but Not the Least
There will be bad days. There will be setbacks. Just remember not to give up. Try not to skip any session no matter how less prepared you are. If you don’t give up and stick to your plan like glue, you’ll learn to love running in no time.