Running is a great way to keep the body and mind in great shape and condition by giving them the exercise they need to function properly. It’s an activity many people all over the world enjoy doing. More so, it takes very little requirements as long as you have the right pair of running shoes and attire.
To a lot of people, it’s an easy activity to simply head out and start. Well, that notion is a little bit far-fetched because there are a few basics to cover about running, especially if you want to make it a routine you can keep up with. For starters, there are different types of running, gear options and some training you might have to get into to have a more rewarding experience doing this sport.
If you’re a new runner seeking ways to improve your health or a seasoned one, the guide provided here alongside extremely useful tips will help you stay motivated, put on those kits and go running the right way.
To begin, you might want to know the types of running to get into. Some athletes are professionals and won’t have a hard time getting into the type they want. For others, it’s not as simple. Here are the types of running you can engage in.
1. Treadmill Running
Most runners who are bothered running outside, have very tight schedules or live in a very busy environment, run on a treadmill. Also, if the weather is bad, it’s a good choice and you get to alternate speeds and have a minor impact on your joints. You can also incline or use the resistance feature to help you simulate the outdoor experience.
2. Road Running
This is as popular as it gets, especially with many people preferring to take to the streets, paved roads, footpaths, sidewalks, and other unconventional roads. Road running is something you could easily adapt to and does help to get you going with some training. Open your door, step out, identify a good route and get running.
Racing comes with some heightened excitement both for the racers and onlookers. However, this form of running is mostly reserved for athletes and you should be as healthy as possible before engaging in it. Sometimes there are prizes attached to racing whether that’s on the road or track. It does feel fulfilling when you beat someone to the finish line.
4. Track Running
Ever watched the Olympics or some athletic events where athletes take part in track events such as the 100, 200, 400-meter races as well as other long-distance races? If you hope to run tracks, then you better watch closely because it takes more effort to meet a targeted speed. However, even if you don’t want to take part in some fiery dash on track, you could use it to feel safer and at ease since there are no cars or other objects to run into as is the case with road running.
5. Trail Running
The countryside is perfect for this type of running because of the view and tranquil nature. It provides ample adventure too, especially when you have to climb hills, scale logs and sidestep several other objects. It’s a great physical activity and it takes a lot of endurance.
Benefits of Running
Running offers many great benefits to anyone willing to take part in it. It’s so easy to get into and it has a lower bar for entry. Another interesting fact is that people of all ages can engage in running, as long as they run at the pace suited to their level of expertise and experience.
Here are the benefits of running:
- Running helps to improve your mental toughness.
- With running, you get to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Running is a mood-boosting activity that quickly releases hormones to help you have a nice time. Endorphins help runners achieve a certain ‘high’ and you can too.
- Running is very effective for weight loss.
- It helps you achieve and maintain aerobic fitness.
- Running helps your body organs function properly – including better metabolism, lowered cholesterol levels, even improved heart rates and higher lung capacity.
- Running increases your energy and builds your endurance levels.
- It can help build and improve social interactions with people organizing jogs or runs you participate in.
Yes, running is one of the easiest activities to get into. But it’s important you observe certain things before beginning. You’ll have to go easy on yourself, especially if you’re new to it. You have to do your bit to avoid getting injured. In line with this, follow these tips to help you enjoy your running experience.
1. Get medically cleared
First things first, you need a medical clearance stating that you’re fit to run. All you have to do is visit a hospital, see a doctor and get examined. This is particularly useful for those who haven’t engaged in any activity for a long time. You’ll have the opinion of a health expert to work with and pace yourself.
At this point, you’ll know whether you can engage in running or not. The doctor will help you create special routines to help you enjoy running even with a little health concern. For instance, if you’ve always had sore knees, you might want to avoid surfaces with hard resistance which means road and trail running may not be for you.
2. You’ll need good shoes and gear
Sure, you can take to the streets running but for how long? You’ll end up feeling hurt and uncomfortable – thanks to the bad shoes you have on. It’s important you invest in the right pair because shoes are meant to support your running style, not force you into one. Your gear isn’t much of a difficult choice. You’ll need something lightweight for shorts, tops, and even tights so that you remain dry while running.
For shoes, it’s not about having the most expensive or great-looking. The question is do they fit? How much support do they offer? Keep these questions in mind when you visit a store for a good pair. It would help to consult professionals who have a keen sense of the best running shoes.
3. Warm-up to get in the mood
There are a lot of misconceptions about running but this isn’t one of them. If you want to go out there and have a great time tuning up your body, you’d best do some light movements and exercises to get you going. Furthermore, twinges occur more frequently when you ignore the need to warm up before going on a run.
Try doing some stretches to see what warm-up style works for you. This way, your joints, and muscles are mobilized and activated respectively. If you don’t have time for a warm-up, start at a very slow pace and pick things up. Also, while in motion, you can raise a heel or a high knee at different intervals. Points you can focus on during your warm-up before you start running Include your neck, hips, knee, and ankle. Also, ensure your breathing is on song with your whole body and how you feel.
4. Don’t be an instant runner
So, you’ve made up your mind to start running, get the gear and shoes and wham! You’re all over the place prancing around. Well, you’d be lucky to come out of that unscathed because you’d be doing too much too soon which could prove to be harmful. To avoid this, you can try the Run/Walk method so that at intervals you ‘rest’ before going on another short burst.
Instead of letting the running bug consume you, play it safe and gently ease yourself into the habit. You can train or simply start by running within a limited time you set for yourself, then slowly pick up the pace. Again, if you’re just starting out, it’s all the more necessary to protect your health by avoiding excesses that leave you at risk of injuries and also paying attention to what your body is saying. Slow and steady builds consistency.
5. Practice good posture
While running, you need to maintain a good form and posture. You don’t want a situation where your shape is altered to look the wrong way. Let your posture be upright with your head lifted and your back feeling long. Your shoulders should also be level but relaxed while you try to keep a neutral pelvis.
As you run, do well not to lean forward. This is normal when you get tired but rather than do so, stop running and walk to rest. Again, there’s a tendency to have your shoulders hunched particularly when running long distances so keep that in mind and have a good shoulder placement because with them too far forward and rounded, you might develop breathing problems.
Keep your eyes focused between 10 and 20 feet ahead of you. Your arms, as if you are walking, should swing naturally from your shoulder joint and not the elbow joint. You’ll know you’re getting things right when there’s a 90-degree bend at your elbow. Further, keep your hands relaxed and cupping them gently helps but when they’re clenched fist-like, you’ll notice tension building in your neck and arms.
Your foot strike which is the way your foot hits the ground is also part of the posture you should be mindful of. Do the following…
- Don’t use your toe or heel to strike the ground. You’ll get tired quickly or develop calf, shin pain or other injuries.
- Aim for the middle of your foot and try to roll through to the front of your toes. You’ll hit a good stride and run longer with slim chances of getting injured.
6. Stay safe
Always put on bright colors so that you’re seen and noticed by everyone particularly drivers if you’re running on the road. Also, follow safety rules and advice including going against traffic. It’s not a bad idea to have your ID when you’re out for a run should it be needed in the event of an emergency or accident.
7. Give your body time to recover
Sometimes you build-up a head of steam that carries you through the day and can’t wait to do the same the next day. That’s cool! But unless you’re a professional athlete (even they need their rest), you should take things slowly by attempting to make the next running workout after a day of rest. This way, your body can recover from the initial session.
Furthermore, it helps your cardiovascular system adapt to the challenges and changes occasioned by running. Muscles and bones also have to be rested and ready for the next run. Try to get a plan in motion or simply run one day off and one day on which helps you avoid a ton of injuries and keeps you motivated in the long-term. It’s great for you as a beginner.
What you do after a run matters a lot. Some people are tempted (for others, it’s a routine!) to end their running exercises with a shower, head fit the kitchen, then throw themselves on the couch to cool down often with a sitcom playing. That’s not entirely wrong on some days but you should really do some warm down exercises. Try these…
- Perform some mild twist as you lay on the floor with your back to the ground.
- Perform the classic pigeon to impact your hip flexors.
- Work your hamstrings lightly as you wait for your cup of coffee to simmer.
Running is great but if you want to maximize the effectiveness it provides, you’ll have to eat and drink well whether that’s before, during or after running. In fact, it can make a difference. Observe the following…
- Proper Hydration – Staying hydrated is very important not least because your body loses water through sweat in cold or hot conditions. Drink water or fluids before running and observe your thirst levels while running. Six ounces of fluids per 20 minutes is great but overall, it depends on how far and fast you’re running. So, you may need up to eight ounces if you’re running faster at 20 minutes intervals.
- Hydration can begin several days before running. Water is suitable and helps you regulate your body temperature and useful for spreading the much-needed nutrients to various parts of your body.
- Carry your own water especially if you’re going on a long run or through routes that are unlikely to have water. A sports drink is normally advised for such distances to help you replace lost minerals. Also, after long runs, rehydrate your system until things get back to normal. You’ll know you’re dehydrated when your urine color is dark yellow. When it’s light yellow, you have the all-clear.
9. Nutritional needs
For your nutritional needs, you have to observe what you eat before running. Running does burn a lot of calories but you shouldn’t take advantage of that by eating anything you come across. You could be great at running but don’t be surprised if you still add weight. In line with this, have a good dietary plan with a balance to help you stay healthy and running effectively.
Observe the following…
- Eat something light but high in carbs, low in fat, protein, and fiber before running. More so, you should try as much as possible to finish eating at least 90 minutes before you run.
- Running for a long time including more than 90 minutes means you’ll need to replace lost energy. Sports scientists are of the view that consuming 100 calories worth of food after an hour and another at 45 minutes intervals, works a treat. There are some food candy and bars you can carry along for a run.
- When you’re done running, especially after a long period, you can eat carbs and protein within 30 minutes of ending your run to help you restore muscle glycogen (stored glucose).
Identify your own running pace and stick to it. Then over time, you can work your way up to more distances at lesser times. Have the physio go over your niggling injuries and listen to your body for pointers. Also, keeping the motivation has proven to be the undoing of many runners. They get excited at the beginning and slowly fizzle out. Well, figure out what works for you such as listening to music as you run or running with other people.