For those who have been putting off getting “back in shape,” the concept of running as re-entry into the world of physical fitness can seem daunting. But it shouldn’t be. With the proper training and fitness apparel, even the most sedentary person can make the leap from sofa spud to runner.
The Correct Fitness Apparel
Running’s biggest asset is the need for minimal fitness equipment. That doesn’t mean, though, that you should just buy the cheapest shoes or even use the same shoes for cross-training or walking.
A good pair of properly-fitting running shoes is the single most important investment that any runner can make.
You should purchase your shoes at a runners’ specialty shop.
The employees in these stores are trained to assess your fitness level and goals, and, in many cases, watch your actual running technique to judge how your foot hits the ground.
For women, a quality sports bra and shirt or jersey is also essential, both to keep neck and back pain to a minimum and to wick moisture away from the skin, preventing irritation and rashes.
According to Underfit, synthetic fabrics and modal are the best ways to wick away sweat and prevent chafing.
Get Out There
The only way to start running is to get out there and run. This can be a challenge – especially when you’re first starting, so refer often to my motivation articles.
You should plan your schedule so that you have at least 30 minutes, two or three days a week, to devote to your training. This doesn’t mean you should try to run the whole time.
Start by splitting your running with periods of walking, whether that be a four-minute walk and a two-minute run, a one-minute walk and a one-minute run, or whatever feels most comfortable for you.
What About Pain and Breathlessness?
As stated earlier, muscle soreness is to be expected when you embark on your running program.
Shin splints (defined by the American Medical Association as “pain along the inner edge of the shinbone”) are the most prevalent running injury, especially in new runners but also in seasoned fitness enthusiasts.
Shin splints are usually the result of overuse and/or shoes that do not fit properly. Impact sports like running can also wreak havoc on your joints.
Keep in mind that being tired is not the same as being injured; be mindful not to overdo it. Overuse of the muscles is the best way to incur fatigue-related injuries.
Also expect to be short of breath when you start. The best way to judge whether you’re going to fast it to see if you can talk. If you’re capable of carrying on a conversation while you run, your pace is about right.
You should try once or twice a week to complete a shorter run, but at a faster pace, making breathing a bit more exacting.
If you encounter “side stitches,” many fitness experts recommend bending at the waist and exhaling hard until the stitch subsides.
Keep hydrated, and avoid eating immediately before a run.
Choosing between treadmill and pavement is the least of your concerns, since both have advantages.
New runners may feel more comfortable on a treadmill, since it has a padded running surface and therefore less impact is sustained than running on pavement.
It’s also a good option for fitness enthusiasts of all levels who find the weather to be uncooperative.
Just run, wherever and whenever you can.
To Hill or Not to Hill?
When you’re comfortable with the idea, incorporating hill running is an excellent way to burn more calories and enhance endurance. You need to calculate your target heart rate and track its change while running up hills.
According to Chron.com, “A quick way to calculate your MHR is to subtract your age from 220.
Then multiply that number by 0.5 and 0.8 to arrive at your target heart rate range. Climbing hills while walking, running or cycling is a sure way to increase your heart rate to a near-max intensity, or to the upper end of your target heart rate.”
Shorten your stride on the way up, pumping your arms forward. Coming downhill, let the pull of gravity work for you, bending forward as you go.
These tips will be helpful both to those who have been mostly sedentary and to fitness enthusiasts that would like to incorporate running into their routines.
Whether you want to train for a race (or even a marathon), burn calories and lose weight, or increase your overall physical fitness, becoming an avid runner is a worthwhile and very achievable goal.