And one of the best ways to do this? Get moving.
As soon as the first sign up warmer weather hits the outdoors, there is no better way to get on some running shoes and start a beginning runner training program.
In fact, you won’t be alone. Almost 50 million folks enjoy the single-person sport each year, according to Running USA’s State of the Sport. Not only that, but in the last ten years or do, the total amount of runners and joggers went up forty percent–and that’s just outdoors. As for the treadmill? It was pretty similar, with an impressive 38 percent. Trail running went up 16 percent, while walking for fitness was up by 21 percent.
Starting a running program, however, can be a bit of a lofty goal, and some folks find themselves a little overwhelmed with how to get started.
We love running because it is easy to access (no gym required) and super cheap (just some workout clothes and a pair of good running shoes), and you’re good to go.
Here are some tips for ensuring success when starting any sort of running program.
The first step before you step out is to make sure you’re wearing the right shoes. The best way to approach this is to visit an independent running store. These stores are generally owned, run by, and staffed by people who love running. They often have a knowledgeable staff that will provide gait analysis which can give you the perfect shoe after looking at your foot strike pattern. This will determine if you overpronate, underpronate or have a neutral gait which will help to reduce injury and ensure comfort.
Along with the shoes, you’ll likely want some technical fabric running shorts, shirts, and socks. Though basic shorts and a tee-shirt can do the trick, technical fabric includes items made of bamboo, smartwool, polyester, nylon, and Lyrca materials, all of which allow the moisture to be wicked away from your body. Avoid wearing clothes from 100 percent cotton, which can cause chaffing, irritation, and even blisters.
One of the biggest forms of motivation is running with others. If you join a running club, there are also two other factors: accountability and commitment. If there are folks counting on you–whether it is a whole group or just a running partner–you’re more bound to make it out on a day that you just don’t feel like going.
The best way to start running is to follow and actual plan. There are many beginning running programs, such as the infamous Couch to 5km, and most running stores offer clubs, coaches, and programs to get you started. An effective way, which is used by the Couch to 5km program, is alternating between running and walking to reach 30 minutes, gradually increasing the running distance each time.
Even if you are running to lose weight, it is important to fuel yourself properly for your runs. As you start to increase your runs, consider a combination of complex carbohydrates with protein (about 200 calories work) about 90 minutes before your run. This will help you digest the food as well as provide you with enough energy. Though you should test out what works for you, toast with peanut butter, a banana with some almond butter, or a yogurt with cereal are good choices. After you run, the general recommendation is eating a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein within 30 minutes after a run is optimal for refueling your muscles.
Just like fueling right, it is important to be well hydrated for your runs. Try to drink about 20 ounces of water two hours before you go for your run. Once you increase your distance, or if you live in a very warm climate, drink up during the run, as well. If you exceed 60 minutes, consider refueling with an electrolyte-rich beverage, such as coconut water.
There are three steps to ensure running success in your training regime. First, it is important to warm up your muscles, such as with a five minute walk or another form of dynamic stretching. This will help prevent injury and get your body prepared for exercise. Next, listen to your body. If you feel uncomfortable (meaning pain), stop running. Anything that is more than your basic muscle soreness needs to be looked after. Finally, make sure you rest. Resting is just as important as the physical workout itself, allowing your body to take the time to rebuild muscle and recover from the activity. During rest, the body repairs the tears that occur during exercise, which, in turn, makes you stronger.