The complete guide to start running right now
There is a lot of reasons to start running. May it be running for weight loss, or satisfying your need for competition, or simply keep your body fit and healthy. Whatever your reasons, you need to start somewhere.
And don’t get fooled by the seeming simplicity of this sport. There’s always underwater stones, and you should know how to prepare and introduce yourself to anything that concerns your body.
What you need to know before running
Know your condition
Running is one of the things that are so natural to us. Indeed, we are born to run. But with today’s lifestyle, humans lost former mobility.
One of the most common health issues nowadays is obesity. The number of people facing this problem is growing rapidly. What’s worse, as a treatment people usually choose running. Running has restrictions. For example, obese people who weigh 100+ kilograms (more than 220 pounds) are not recommended to run. Otherwise, it leads to a bunch of problems, such as runner’s knee, shin splints, or IT band syndrome.
Also, people with heart or lung issues may encounter not only serious problems while training, but put their lives at risk. Bottom line, consult a doctor before starting exercising, even if you think you are perfectly fine.
Get the running shoes
Running doesn’t require much equipment. Put aside any excesses like expensive GPS watch, cool backpack, or carbon trekking poles, it is a cheap sport. Well, at least at the beginning. But a decent pair of running shoes is essential.
Worn-out shoes are the leading cause of injury. And often bad shoes are hard to catch for the eye, so anything that’s even slightly uncomfortable is a no-go. Of course, fashionable shoes will complement your graceful moves, but being able to feel your legs after running seems more decisive.
Also, there are different shoes for pronated (ankle bent to the inside) and supinated (ankle bent to the outside) feet, so mind that when choosing your shoes. If you’re not sure what model you need, ask a consultant at the store for help.
Don’t stop by the price, it will pay off in many comfortable and injury-free training sessions. Replace your shoes every 500-800 kilometers (300-500 miles). And while you’re in the shop, swing by in a clothing section to properly dress for running.
Find your place
And the last thing you need to do before moving on to training is finding a place for your regular training sessions. Whether it’s trail in the woods, or city block, or park, whatever feels comfortable for you will do. Though, we suggest you find a track, because it’s flat, free of traffic, and the distance is measured.
Now, you checked yourself with a doctor, and everything seems fine, and you feel perfectly healthy. Yet this is not a reason to go out and trample a track. Feeling good doesn’t mean your body is ready for exercise. Going too far and too fast leads only one way — injury. If you want to avoid any health-related problems, take everything slowly and step by step.
There’s no better way to prepare your body for running than walking. Your body goes through the same range of motion as running, but without the same impact on your bones and joints. This is also a great way to lose some weight and prepare your knees for a daily strain of training.
You should start out walking 3 times a week for about 15 minutes. Mind that we’re not talking about strolling by the shops. Make it dedicated training, maintain the pace and don’t make unnecessary breaks.
Add 5 minutes each time, so your goal for the first week is 25 minutes. The second week add one more training day and aim for 35-40 minutes of walking. If you need more time, continue for another week or two.
If you can walk for 35 minutes straight without any breaks and it feels comfortable afterward, only then you can graduate to the next step.
Pioneered by Olympian Jeff Galloway this technique was a runway for most of runners. Walk/run is a perfect training method for beginners. Blend in 1 minute of running (30 seconds if that is too much) for every 4 minutes of your walking. This way stress comes very gradually, and your body can adapt to it. Go on this way until you cover your training time or distance.
We suggest you go for about 20 minutes at first, but you can continue for another 10-15 minutes if you feel like it. Remember to do a 5-minute walk to cool down in the end.
Always warm up before doing any exercises.
At this point you don’t need to worry about speed; don’t push yourself during running and jog at a comfortable pace. What’s important here is maintaining a proper running form, any bad habits you develop at the beginning will be really hard to get rid of later.
When you’re comfortable running for 1-minute at a time for several intervals, you are ready to move on and either shorten your walking breaks or increasing running each training session. Continue training this way 4 times a week until intervals are equal.
Your goal is running for 2-3 minutes with 1 minute walking breaks. Don’t rush it and give yourself 2-3 weeks for this step. Also, don’t forget to fuel yourself before running. When you feel comfortable running like that, you have two ways to move on now.
Take walking breaks before you actually need them.
First is taking only occasional walking breaks, decreasing the overall number of them. Second is gradually increasing running time. Again, either way is fine. It is good to push your body once a week a little bit more doing endurance run. Say, if your regular training is 30 minutes long, once a week do a 40 minutes training session.
Are you ready for the final step? If you can run for 20 minutes without breaks, then yes, you are!
Congratulations, you are now a runner! Though taking some breaks is perfectly fine, there is plenty of room to progress and take your running to the next level.
So what do you do next? First of all, get rid of walking breaks. A lot of runners tend to stick with this habit for different reasons. Some people believe that it helps preventing an injury. A worldwide famous coach Jason Fitzgerald says that cutting your running time by 10-20% with walking breaks is simply ineffective and this whole statement is false.
But often the reason is lack of confidence. If you can run more than 20 minutes at a time, you probably don’t need breaks. An excellent way to get rid of them is already known to you method where you just decrease walking time consistently until you can all run.
Remember to do endurance run once a week. This is exactly what you should focus on if you want to beat a marathon distance some day. When you can run straight for an hour, you can add hill training to your daily running routine.
Also, don’t forget about speed workouts. Great way to introduce your body to speed training is doing strides after normal runs. Strides is a short run when you gradually accelerate up to 95% of your max speed and then slow down until full stop. Overall one stride should be about 100 meters (328 ft) long.
Where to get inspiration
Now you know how to start running, but all this training often feels daunting. There’s a great many reasons that can motivate you to run. But relying only on your willpower is not the best way.
To motivate yourself, sign up for a race. Choose a 5K for starters. Pay for it and let your jealousy do the job. A fixed race date will help you stay focused and keep you on a regular running schedule.
Set small winnable goals, that you can easily complete and develop confidence and stick to running even more.
Also, treat yourself after every each training session. May it be a delicious snack, or a favorite TV show, or just a hot shower after sweaty workout. Anything that can trick your mind into daily running habit.