People start a running routine for a variety of reasons. You might be a bicyclist who wants to cross train or a skier who wants an off-season sport to pursue. Or you might want to get rid of some excess pounds. People take up running to lose anywhere from five pounds to one hundred pounds.
Though the reasons differ, the plan of attack is the same for everyone. Start slow, add distance and speed a little at a time and be consistent with your runs.
Here is a look at five essentials for your beginning running routine.
#1. Follow a plan.
Consider using the C25K app or written plan. It stands for Couch to 5K, which describes the starting point of many newbies, who are currently couch potatoes but envision a future where they cross the finish line at a local 5K running race.
5K is the standard distance for short races. It stands for 5 kilometers, which is 3.1 miles. Coolrunning.com has more information about the app and the plan here.
The important thing is to go slow to avoid injury. The biggest reason people start and quickly stop a running routine is because they’ve done too much too soon. According to running guru Jeff Galloway, “Men who have not done any real exercise in 20 years and suddenly decide to run like they did in high school—that’s a formula for disaster.”
You may be able to run or jog just 30 seconds when you first start, and that’s just fine. Slowly add another 30 seconds to your running intervals, let your body adjust, then add another 30. At the beginning it is standard practice to alternate walking with short bursts of running. With time you start to run more than you walk.
At the beginning, run every other day or three days a week. Give your body a rest between workouts and you will see faster results, less soreness and fewer injuries.
Take the long view with your running routine. You won’t start this weekend and run a race next weekend. A popular C25K program takes 9 weeks to get into racing form. Many runners find that is too much too fast and add another month or two to the schedule. You aren’t running against anyone but yourself.
#2. Invest in shoes that fit.
Running shoes aren’t cheap. You can buy a good pair for $80 to $120 or more, though more expensive doesn’t mean better. What counts is how they fit. Go to a running store with trained personnel. They will fit the shoe, let you walk around in it and check your gait.
Only buy shoes that are comfortable when you try them on. Don’t figure you will break them in. Don’t try to get by with cross-training shoes, tennis shoes or walking shoes. You need shoes made specifically for running.
If you have no idea on what type of shoes to get, there are online tools that can point you in the right direction. Take a look a the Runner’s World Shoe Advisor for one.
#3. Get breathable clothing.
Buy a shirt made of material that wicks away moisture. You do a lot of sweating when you run. Get shorts or pants that don’t chafe, aren’t too tight and fit comfortably. Women need a bra that offers firm support.
#4. Be consistent.
If it’s raining out, if it’s sunny out, if it’s too early or too late, you can come up with a dozen excuses to not go for your run. But your body and brain will adjust much more quickly to running if you develop a routine and stick to it. Three days a week done consistently is far better than five days one week and one run a week for the next month.
The KEY is to run even when you don’t feel like it. If your plan calls for a 2-mile run and you just don’t feel like it then do just ONE mile. At least get out there. Most likely, once you get going you’ll do the two miles.
#5. Enjoy the process.
You will feel the endorphins right away. These boost your mood and reduce the pain from your workout. They help you enjoy the process of learning to run.
Get in the habit of enjoying the scenery and saying hi to the people you meet. Be present in your run. Don’t fret about form or gear or not being fast enough. It comes with time and effort. Meanwhile, get comfortable in your body and enjoy the passing scene.