It gets you fit, fast”and it’s totally free. Need any more reasons to start running? Okay, how about these: it helps decrease body fat, reduces stress and floods your brain with mood-boosting endorphins (they’re responsible for the famous runner’s high).
If you’re ready to lace up, read on:
1. Get the Right Gear
A big advantage of running”unlike other sports, such as skiing or windsurfing, for example”is that you don’t much equipment to get started. Besides a good sports bra, the most important investment you can make is in a good pair of running shoes. Ill-fitting shoes can lead to blisters, or even worse, injuries; wearing shoes designed for other purposes, such as aerobics, is a bad move too (they’re designed for lateral, instead of forward movement). Your best bet is to visit an athletic footwear retailer for a foot exam and professional fitting. Bring along your old pair of running shoes so that the staff can analyze your wear pattern. Try on a few pairs before you decide”and remember to mark down the date of purchase, as running shoes wear out after about 800 kilometres.
2. Start Slowly
If you’re a complete beginner, don’t expect that you’ll be able to run for an hour without stopping your first time out. It’s better to build up your endurance over time by switching off and on between running and walking. Start with a 10-minute warm-up of brisk walking. Jog for one minute, and then walk for one minute. Repeat the intervals for 10 minutes or until you become uncomfortable. Cool down by walking for another 5 to 10 minutes. Each week, you can gradually increase the amount of jogging time while decreasing the amount of walking time (but don’t skip your warm-ups and cool-downs, as you could risk injury). You can also gradually increase the interval training time, from 10 minutes to 15, 20 and then 25. Eventually, you’ll be able to run for 30 minutes or more without stopping!
3. Practice Makes Perfect
Proper form matters: run with your arms at waist level (not up around your chest) and maintain good posture. It’s up to you whether you breathe through your nose or your mouth, but if you get a stitch in your side, breathe deeply and concentrate on pushing all the air out of your abdomen. (Cramps are caused by strain on your diaphragm as you run.) Slow down or stop if you feel pain or have to alter your stride, though”running with an injury can exacerbate the problem. Make sure to stretch your muscles out after your run, holding each pose for at least 15 seconds.
4. Set Goals
Whether you do it outside or on the treadmill at the gym, scheduling your run at the same time each day will make it easier to stick with your new habit. Need more motivation? Sign up for a short (5K) race or fun run.
Always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.