Running is a great cardiovascular exercise, and a very beneficial part of any fitness routine. Many people who don’t consider themselves runners picture running as a daunting task, or something they just can’t see themselves doing. But the great thing about running is that it comes naturally and anyone can do it. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at in your fitness or how long you can run for, its easy to build up your strength and endurance when it comes to this great cardio exercise. If you’re thinking about beginning a running routine, here are some useful tips to get you started and help you get the best out of it.
Get Outfitted- This may seem like the least important part of running to you, but seasoned runners know that the proper running gear is essential. The shoes are particularly important in running, and if you think you’ll be running a good amount, don’t skimp on the purchase. Beginning runners should do a bit of research, as there are a number of different types of running shoes depending on the terrain you plan on running on; such as trail-shoes and road-running shoes. The shape of your foot also plays a big part in your decision, so you may want to visit a running store where they can help you pick the best shoes. Also make sure you have the right clothing that will allow you to focus on your running rather than what’s uncomfortable.
Hydrate and Nourish- Proper hydration and energy levels are key to running for exercise. Eat an energizing snack at last an hour before you go to run, and drink a lot of water. It is important to time your meals because activity will slow your digestion, and you don’t want to have food that will sit heavily in your stomach. A good meal to have before running will include protein and complex carbohydrates that provide your body with the much-needed fuel it needs. Beginning runners should keep it mind that it will take some experimentation to figure out what works best for their body when it comes to fueling for runs.
Motivation- When it comes to any fitness routine, each person needs to find what motivated them. For beginning runners, running can be hard, frustrating and monotonous at first, so finding personal motivation is very important. Music can be a very useful tool in feeling good during exercise and keeping going when running. Make some running playlists that you will enjoy and will make your run something that you look forward to. Or, find a running buddy who is at a beginner level like you. A running partner may be just what you need to motivate you to stay on track and continue your fitness journey.
Pace yourself- Beginning runners should always remember to take it slow. Just because you see people out there running 5 miles at a time doesn’t mean that that’s where they started. It is good to push yourself and challenge your body, but it is not good to injure yourself or pass out from over-exertion. Only you know how your body feels, so at the beginning, aim to run at a place where you feel slightly uncomfortable. By this I mean if you are gliding effortlessly you are not doing enough and you should pick it up a notch. Likewise, if you feel like you need to stop, there is no shame in walking to rest a little bit. Beginning runners should aim to keep a steady pace for as long as possible to build up their endurance, and to move at a pace related to their fitness level.
Track yourself- Especially at the beginning it’s helpful to find some way of monitoring your running progress. Are you seeing any differences? Did you lose weight? Are you covering a greater distance than when you first began? How are your times? Keeping a running diary to document your running will help you realize how you are improving and can serve as a motivational tool. Watching your progress on paper will also help you make adjustments to your routine and push yourself to continue to do better. If you feel stuck, there plenty of beginning runner plans online and in fitness magazines that you can follow.
Stretch and Cool-down- This is one of the most important parts of any exercise routine, but is especially vital to running. Beginning runners should always learn to stretch properly so to no injure themselves. Stretching before and after running will help your legs feel limber to run longer distances and will prevent you from feeling sore the next day. Warming up and cooling down are both vital to a running routine as well. Increasing and decreasing your heart rate and body temperature gradually before and after running will keep you healthy and functioning properly. If you stop running suddenly you can experience dizziness or light-headedness. Cooling down will prevent your from feeling dizzy or light-headed, and also helps your body to get rid of lactic acid which builds up in your muscles during exercise.