Running- some people love it, some people hate it. Can’t there be a happy medium? The biggest step to get into a running routine is taking that first step and working up to a new goal!  Whether you want to work on your speed, endurance, or overall fitness level, running is a great way to do it. Plus, you’ll feel better and maybe even make some new friends along the way!

HOW TO START RUNNING

WE KNOW, WE KNOW, SOMETIMES THE IDEA OF RUNNING SEEMS LIKE THIS:

But don’t be discouraged…below are some tips to get that runner’s high, that race day excitement and a new-found sense of confidence!

1) PICK A RACE

Marathon runners. [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786738][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/group.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786766][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/sport.jpg[/img][/url]

The absolute best way to keep yourself running is to find a race, sign up for it, pay for it and put it on your calendar. A fixed race date will help you stay focused, and keep you on a regular running schedule. A beginner can run any race — you just need to allow enough time to train for it. Pick your distance and use an online race finder to help you find the right race for you.

 

2) START WITH THE RUN/WALK METHOD

The Run-Walk Method is a great way for new runners to get started and for experienced runners to improve their race times. Contrary to what you might think, the technique doesn’t mean walking when you’re tired; it means taking brief walk breaks when you’re not. You can pick whatever ratio of walking and running that works for you. Some suggested combinations include:

runwalk

3) CHOOSE A TRAINING PLAN

You can find any number of elaborate training plans online, but we believe in keeping it simple. Here is the basic formula for a great training plan.

  • Train three days a week
  • Run or run/walk 20 to 30 minutes, two days a week
  • Take a longer run or run/walk (40 minutes to an hour) on the weeken
  • Rest or cross-train on your off days
  • Run at a conversational pace
  • Consider taking regular walk-breaks

Most new runners start with a 5K — a 3.1-mile race that is typically less intimidating than a longer race. Your local 5K will attract a fun, relaxed group of new runners and walkers, as well as more experienced runners who like to go fast.

4) FUELING YOUR BODY

WHAT TO EAT

Make a fist. That’s about the size of what you need to eat before and after you run. (But don’t eat your fist!) Think appetizer, not meal. It should also include carbs with some protein, says Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a certified specialist in sports dietetics. The traditional peanut butter sandwich is a great option as a workout snack. Eat half of the sandwich one hour before your run and half soon after. Low-fat chocolate milk works very well, too.

WHEN TO EAT

One of the biggest mistakes that new runners make is to not eat at all before exercise, so you don’t have any fuel to keep you going.

When you’ve finished running, eat within 15 minutes of stopping — it helps the body re-synthesize muscle glycogen and recover more quickly. It may also help prevent or reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness.

5) HYDRATE 

Silhouette of a man drinking water after exercising with blue sky in the background.

WATER

Hydration is a big concern for new runners, but it shouldn’t be. The best tip for staying hydrated during a run is: Drink when you are thirsty. You can carry a regular-size water bottle in one hand when you run or you can plan a route around a few water fountains.

SPORTS DRINKS

Electrolytes are water-soluble nutrients, like sodium, that can leave the body through sweating. So-called sports drinks can replace these electrolytes in the body. However, the length of your workout should be the guide for what you drink. If you run for less than an hour, water is just fine. After running for an hour, your body begins to need those nutrients, so a few sips of a sports drink can help you maintain your energy levels. But as with all things, a little bit of a sports drink can go a long way. These drinks often contain sugar, which your body doesn’t need if you are otherwise eating a healthy diet. They can also get pretty pricey. So, while sports drinks serve a purpose among elite athletes and those who exercise for long periods, for those who exercise at a moderate intensity for an hour or less, water is probably the better choice.

5) PREVENT INJURY BY STRETCHING

dynamic-warm-up

You don’t have to waste your time sitting on the curb touching your toes or pulling your legs backward to stretch your thigh muscles. While there has been recent evidence that static stretching — holding a stretch for a period of time — can prevent acute muscle injuries like tears or strains, such types of injuries are uncommon in runners. In fact, holding a stretch too long can even make your muscles less powerful.

Instead, you could try dynamic stretching, which warms your muscles through repeated movements. For runners, an ideal warm-up might include squats, lunges and “form drills” like kicking your buttocks with your heels. While some professional (and amateur) runners swear by these pre-run warm ups, there are no studies that show that dynamic stretching prevents injury.

The bottom line? If you don’t have time to stretch or warm up before you run, don’t worry about it. If you like the way stretching feels before a run, go for it. Just don’t hold your stretches. Keep your muscles in motion to prevent straining them before you…

HIT THE ROAD!


Get healthier, more fit, and even more awesome!

Coach Janis and the Precision Fitness & Wellbeing Team