Running. It is an age-old type of exercise that people have enjoyed for ages. It is something that you can pick up at the age of 10 o 75. It is not location dependent, and everyone can do it. Running just may be the world’s most perfect form of exercise.
As runners, we know that people of all skill and experience levels enjoy our sport, and that those of us who have been at it for a while can help those who are still learning. That is why we created this site, to provide tips to those who aspire to make running a core hobby. Here are the key things to keep in mind when embarking on any type of running regimen.
- Start off Easy, and Build your Base. Beginning any type of running routine requires starting from somewhere. Whether you are an avid marathoner who took the winter off, or someone who is doing a couch-to-5K type of plan, you have a starting point. It is important that you start easy and build gradually, taking into consideration your fitness level and age as you build a base. Base building is relatively simple – add no more than 10% per day. If you start with a 20 minute run, the next day should be 22 mins or less, and the next should be 24 or less. Taking this approach will help you ward off injury and enjoy your new sport.
- Find a Plan. A good running plan is very important. It adds motivation during the difficult days, and helps temper your enthusiasm during the days when you want to run a marathon but shouldn’t. A good training plan usually works up to something – a 5K, a half marathon, or maybe just a long milestone running. Staying on a schedule means that you won’t bite off too much too soon, but that you will also make very steady progress with your goals.
- Invest in Good Gear. Good gear is important for any runner. Invest in good stuff, and you will be comfortable and able to focus on your sport. Buy bad stuff, and your frustration just may be enough to cause you to abandon the sport altogether, something we do not want to see. For those running in the hot sun, it will be important to get some of the recent technology that helps wick away moisture and keep you cool. Those running in colder weather should find high quality winter running gear that will keep them warm against both temperature and wind. Finally, be sure what you buy will be durable. Often an extra $10 spent means you can use the gear for a year longer than you would have with a garment you skimped on.
- Set Goals. Every athlete will tell you that one of the keys to success is goal-setting. Goals should be set every 3-6 months, as your conditioning and desires change. Goals should be both attainable but also something that will make you work, and should be measurable. Examples of goals might be do run a half marathon, or do two 5Ks, or to go for a 3-mile run in May at a 9-minute-mile pace. Whatever the goal is, the important thing is that you have it. It can make the difference between a summer of improvement or a summer of plateau.
- Be Disciplined. Staying disciplined is easier said than done, but being disciplined in your running will reap great rewards over time. It isn’t the good days that are difficult. It is those days when you are facing a treadmill run or a dreary outside run, you don’t feel 100%, and it is tough to fit the activity into your day. On those days, getting yourself up and running is the victory, and the good days will soon follow. Set your plan, stick to it, and enjoy your newfound fitness.
- Listen to Your Body. Running can be hard on your joints. It is a fact of the sport. If you find that you have a sore hamstring, a swollen knee, or a back that is not right, take time off and rest. If the problems persist, don’t let much time go by (2-3 days max) before seeing a sports therapist of a doctor. Listening to your body and giving it the attention it deserves will provide rewards in terms of a longer overall span of time when you can enjoy the sport of running.
More to come soon, including a series on running coaching as well as running gear. But for now, those are six simple pointers to get you started, regardless of if your skill level is beginner or advance. For more information and tips, check back often, and feel free to provide your perspective the comments below.