As children, we ran everywhere we went. We didn’t need a reason to run and there wasn’t much benefit in getting to where we were going faster. Running was just fun, magically able to transform the mundane into grand adventure. Once we’ve grown up and left the running habit behind us, getting started with running again can be an uphill battle.
Here are 5 running tips for beginners to get you over that first hill and beyond.
1. Schedule your running.
If you have a smartphone, there are a number of free apps to help schedule your running time, track your progress, measure calorie burn, and manage goals. Paid apps or apps with in-app purchases can offer more functionality.
Running apps can be confusing, though. Who wants to be confused? Minimalists can simply set an alarm or add a running event to their online calendars. This practice quickly builds the running habit and in a short amount of time you won’t need the reminder to maintain your routine.
There are benefits to both the detailed and simpler approaches. You might find that you are a person who is motivated by data and enjoy tracking your progress, or you may learn that you enjoy the simple Zen of running, knowing the troubles of the world haven’t the stamina to keep pace with you. Choose the scheduling method that works best for your personality.
2. Get your group on.
Running, in many ways, is a metaphor for life. It can be difficult to stay motivated when you are a team of one. Joining a running group can help you find inspiration and the motivation to go the extra mile as you cheer each other on.
Ask at your local running store about running groups. They may know of some local groups or even sponsor a running group themselves.
Social activity apps, such as Meetup, can also be a great place to find running groups. If you can’t find any local groups, Meetup provides a way to start a new group yourself.
We all need a well-intentioned kick in the pants from time to time to help us find our missing motivation. Running groups bring a sense of camaraderie to an otherwise solitary sport and provide the opportunity for you to return the favor when your groupmates need some extra get up and go.
3. Get the right gear for the long run.
When you were a kid, your high-top sneakers carried you wherever you needed to go. Sport Science has come a long way and you’ll want proper footwear for the journey ahead.
Beginners may have a better experience at a local independent running store. The Big Box retail stores might have tempting sales advertised, but your local running store is likely to have a more knowledgeable staff who can recommend running shoes to fit your needs and budget, and even custom-matched to your gait.
Be prepared to spend some money on proper running shoes. As a beginner, there’s no need to spend hundreds, but a good pair of running shoes may cost $80 to $100.
Do you remember in the movie Rocky, when Rocky ran through the streets of Philadelphia in heavy, cotton sweats? You don’t want to do that. Cotton retains sweat and can cause irritation and chafing. Buy some running shorts and shirts made of technical fabric instead. Technical fabrics don’t hold the moisture, allowing perspiration to evaporate. Soggy clothing dampens your motivation and can lead to skin discomfort long after the running is done. Your local running store can point you in the right direction to get started with proper running clothes.
4. Before you run, fuel up and warm up.
You’ll need fuel for your journey even if you’re only running around the block a few times. Eating 200 to 400 calories of carbs and protein before your run can give you the energy you need and minimize fatigue. Eat an hour or two prior to your run to give your body time to digest the fuel. A half of a peanut butter sandwich is an inexpensive pre-run snack and you probably already have the ingredients at home. Wash this down with 20 oz of water so your body is well hydrated for your run.
They say you’ve got to walk before you can run. As it happens, this wisdom will fit well into your new running routine. A five-minute walk before your run will warm up your muscles and prevent common discomfort from tight muscles pushed too far, too quickly.
5. Resting builds muscle.
Resting builds muscle, but you have to exercise first. When you run or exercise, the activity create small tears in the muscle tissue. Your body rebuilds your muscle when you rest. As a running beginner, it’s best to take one day off between runs. This day of rest lets your body recover and rebuild so that you can make it over that first hill again, and then far beyond.