Ok, it's officially the last weekend of Spring and Memorial Day weekend is now over! This weekend kicked off the beginning of Summer! You've thought about adopting running into your healthier New You, maybe to look a little leaner and trim for the bathing suit weather?? But just how do you go about it??
You're now committed to getting yourself in shape and want to try your hands (or should I say feet) in taking up running to help you get fit and stay fit. Maybe besides getting fit, you’re thinking it might be possible to take part in a 5k, 10k. Maybe even a half marathon once you’ve broken into your stride. Then who knows, you might get yourself to the point of tackling your dream of a full marathon. Well here are a few starting points to get you from just jogging around the block to tackling those distance hills that are out there on the horizon.
The first thing you want to do is when starting any type of physical activity, especially if you haven’t been very physical lately is to go and get yourself checked out by your physician. This way you know what you have to work with.
Next, you need to plan on working your running into your daily schedule. Some people are ‘Morning People” and have no problem getting up early to start their day. Others never seem to want to leave their beds so scheduling your run-workout would be best for them if they penciled in a late afternoon/early evening run. Again this needs to be a time that you can commit to and once adopted, needs to be stayed with.
You will want to start out with a 20 minute run, for best results at least 3 times per week. Again, this is all part of your schedule commitments. So be aware that things do sometimes crop up, especially if you select to schedule a later afternoon or early evening run. That is why I like the morning runs since it is the beginning of your day and that time is usually yours to do with what you will as long as you get up early enough to accomplish it.
When you start running, don't plan to go too far or too fast right away — doing so is the number-one cause of injury among runners. Start by running for 20 minutes at a time, three times per week. Gradually increase the amount of time you're running and the number of days you run, but do not increase either until you feel comfortable completing your current level of training. If 20 minutes is too much, don't be afraid to take walking breaks. Perhaps begin by running for 4 minutes and walking for 1 minute, until you complete the 20 minutes. As you get stronger, begin eliminating the walk breaks.
When you're a beginner, it's not necessary to worry about how many miles you are running. Focus on the number of minutes instead. Gradually you'll begin to cover more ground in the same amount of time, and that's when you'll want to increase the duration of your workout.
What equipment do I need?
One advantage of the sport of running is that so little gear is required. But the most important investment runners should make is in a good pair of running shoes — not cross-training, walking, or tennis shoes. Running shoes are best purchased at specialty running stores, where employees can recommend models based on your ability and goals. Many will also watch you run, to make sure the shoes you buy complement the way your foot strikes the ground.
You should also have good quality workout clothes, preferably made of wicking material to keep you cooler and drier. A digital sports watch is also helpful, an Activity Monitor is even better as it can track your distance and the calories your burning as well. A good example of an Activity Monitor is the Fitbit Charge. As you advance in your running and set new goals, a heart-rate monitor, like the new Fitbit Blaze can do it all for you, offers the same features as an Activity Monitor but also keeps track of your heart rate as you go and progress. This way you can make sure you keep your effort levels where they need to be.
How sore should I expect to get?
Your legs will be sore in the beginning, but if you keep up the routine, the leg soreness will subside relatively quickly. If you feel acute pain anywhere, stop running for a few days and let your legs recover, to prevent injuries. Shin splints are the most common injury, usually incurred when you overdo your training or wear improper shoes. Be aware of the difference between being tired and being injured, and make sure you're not encouraging overuse injuries.
How fast should I be going? Should I be out of breath from the beginning?
Running will certainly feel challenging at first and you will be slightly out of breath when you start. That should also eventually subside. It's helpful to use the "talk test." If you can hold a conversation while you're running, you're at a good pace. Once or twice a week, however, go for a shorter run, but complete it at a higher speed so that talking is more difficult. It will help increase your fitness level and cardiovascular strength.
Should I run on the treadmill or outside?
Both have advantages. Treadmills are a perfect alternative when the weather is uncooperative and can be helpful in easing into new distances or paces. Adam Krajchir, head coach and program director for the New York Road Runners Foundation Team for Kids, believes that treadmills complement outside running because the cushioned surface reduces the risk of injuries that many runners get from constantly pounding their legs on the pavement outside.
"Run, wherever you can, inside or out," he says. "Getting into a regular routine is more important than finding a perfect solution."
Should I avoid hills? How should I change my form if I come to a hill?
Running hills is a great way to improve leg strength and burn calories. When you run up a hill, shorten your stride and pump your arms forward. Going down a hill, let gravity do the work and give it a little help by leaning 1slightly forward.
What are side stitches and how to I get rid of them?
Side stitches are common and are caused by a lack of oxygen in your GI muscles. To stop them, Krajchir recommends exhaling hard and long or bending over at the waist while exhaling. You can also slow down your pace until the stitch subsides.
If side stitches become a recurring problem, Krajchir suggests avoiding solid food immediately before a workout and making sure you're always well hydrated.
Food, Weight, Racing
What should I eat?
Running burns a lot of calories — an average of 100 calories per mile — but it is not a license to eat whatever you want. You don't need to change your diet unless you're training for an endurance event like a marathon. But it's important to not restrict carbohydrates. Get plenty of protein to rebuild muscles, and eat sensible, healthy, high-energy foods (plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains).
Will I lose weight?
If it is your goal to lose weight, running is an excellent way of doing so. As with any exercise program, if you expend more calories than you intake, then you will lose weight.
"My best advice is, if you want to regulate your weight, learn to regulate your diet first and let your running regulate your toning."
Setting a goal to run a 5K (3.1 miles) race or any other distance is an excellent way to stay motivated and true to your running routine. Local races attract people of all abilities and provide a supportive and encouraging environment to complete a goal. Many people walk the entire race, while others will sprint from the beginning. If you'd rather wait until you're sure you can run the entire distance, sign up for one that is three or four months away, and work toward the goal.
The above tips and recommendations will put you on the right track to beginning a running regimen. In the long run, its all really up to you. Keep at it, mix up your runs and add some tweaks to change up your running patterns and you will soon find yourself over reaching your pre-determined distance goals. The best thing about setting a goal, is that after you have achieved it, and you spend a little time congratulating yourself on your accomplishment,,,,, YOU can always set a newer, higher goal…….Most of all,,,, Have FUN!!!