Running is not only one of the best ways to torch calories, clear your head, keep fit and de-stress, it’s also one of the few sports that just about anyone can do. In most cases, all you really need is a pair of running shoes, a sports bra and an open road. With so little hassle and so many amazing benefits, it’s no wonder that each spring welcomes a new crowd of running newbies. If you count yourself among the beginners, check out our tips below to help you get the most out of the sport:
While there’s plenty of cool gadgets and cute gear to choose from, the two absolute essentials are as follows: a proper pair of running shoes and a great-fitting sports bra. Trust us. Before you even think of jogging a quick lap around the block, make sure you’ve taken the time to invest in both. Why? Because sprinting in casual sneaks (instead of shoes that were made for running miles) will only end up causing a painful injury, and, well, jogging without the proper chest support—no matter your size—is just a bad idea for both you and your ta-tas. Other things to consider: seamless, sweat-wicking pants, tops, jackets, cushioned socks and a hand-held water bottle.
Practice Proper Form
While everyone has their own “style,” there are few guidelines to follow when it comes to proper running form. First of all, make sure you hold your head high and keep your shoulders low, loose and away from your ears. Your hands should be in unclenched fists as they swing back and forth with your elbows bent at a ninety-degree angle. Stand tall, with a straight spine and try not to lift your knees too high. Your feet should hit the ground directly beneath you and land between your heel and mid-foot, before rolling forward and springing off your toes. If your steps are slapping loudly against the pavement, you’re doing it wrong; running should be springy and virtually silent.
Don’t expect to go from running amateur to 10K marathoner in one week. Building your endurance takes a lot of time, commitment and patience. Follow a plan, set goals (like running your first 5K), and don’t ever push yourself harder than your body can handle. When you’re just starting out, run in intervals with plenty of walking breaks in between (for example: run for one minute, then walk for a minute and a half, and repeat). Never up your mileage by more than ten percent each week—so if you run ten miles one week, do only eleven miles the next week, and so on. It’s also important to remember that rest days are an important part of training, and if you’re a true beginner, you shouldn’t be running more than three days a week to start.
Because newbie runners are more prone to overuse injuries than seasoned marathoners, it’s crucial to try and prevent them. To keep aches and pains at bay, start each run with a five minute, slow-paced walk to warm up and loosen your muscles. Follow up your jog with cool-down stretches or yoga to help relieve any stiffness. On your off-days, you should do exercises that strengthen your upper body and the muscles in your legs you don’t use for running. This will help you build a stronger, more stable core. Lastly, simply listen to your body. If you’re overtraining, or upping your mileage too fast, or worse, trying to run through pain—often the early signs of an injury—you can develop anything from excruciating shin spints to debilitating stress fractures. If you ever feel a sharp ache coming on, stop, and practice R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) before you get back out there.