Running is an incredible outlet for people of all ages. What starts as a passing thought, a challenge from a friend or the desire to lead a healthy life becomes a passion, a fitness routine and even a sport.
It’s a fantastic way to get in shape, meet new friends and increase your mental alertness.
Yet no matter what your hopes are for running, whether it’s for fitness or to run in marathons. It’s important to know how to get started. It really can mean the difference between enjoying and hating it.
You should love it, so we have put together a guide that will help you fall in love with running.
KNOW YOUR FOOT TYPE
It’s important to know your foot type. Not everyone has the same shape of foot, and knowing what your foot type is before you purchase equipment will help insure that you get the most support and comfort for your feet and joints.
I recommend you go down to your nearest speciality running store or something that is equivalent and have an expert take a look at your feet. They will tell you what your foot type is and then you will have a much better idea of the type of running shoe you will need to buy.
Whatever you do, don’t visit your local, run of the mill fitness store which sells sneakers as they really aren’t trained in foot types or running.
There are three basic foot types:
Each one is based on how high your foot arch is. You can actually do a test at home using water and paper to determine what your foot arch is, but that can lead to getting it wrong and a few minutes with a clerk at the running store will provide you with the right information. If you do want to try it out though, just place the sole of your foot in the bottom of a pan which has a thin layer of water. Make sure the entire bottom of your foot is wet, then step out and place your foot on a piece of thick paper. Step off and you should be able to observe which of the three foot types you are.
BUY THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
Without a doubt, one of the most common mistakes that new runners make is to purchase the wrong equipment. You don’t have to buy the most expensive running shoes or running outfit, but you do need to understand that your body is going to be letting off a lot of sweat when you run and you want to keep that moisture away from your body as much as possible.
Again, a great way to avoid spending a lot of money but still getting quality clothing is to go down to your local Running Store, speak with an expert on the different types of material and clothing that runners wear both in the summer and the winter. They will usually direct you to high end brand name clothing for runners. Take a peek at the tags and it will tell you what the clothing is made out of. Next go to local fitness store, and seek out clothing that is made of the same material. You literally can save yourself hundreds of dollars and still end up with professional running clothing.
Once you know what foot type you are, you can search for the right type of shoe.
If you plan on running on a regular basis, another thing to avoid is going for a shoe that is inexpensive. If you want to reduce the cost involved, reduce it with the clothing you wear, but don’t cut corners on the running shoes as it literally can mean the different between comfort and pain. So avoid clearance racks unless of course they have an expensive shoe that has been reduced because the company has just put out a new line, which is quite common.
When it comes to buying socks, don’t go for your regular sport sock as you will find out very quickly that it holds in the moisture. A regular sock not only causes your feet to sweat like mad but it will make your expensive running shoe smell bad too. Try to only buy running socks that are made from polyester or acrylic as these are known to keep the moisture away from your body.
The same applies to running pants and tops. Stick to 100% polyester, wind breakers and wearing multiple layers in the winter so that way you can just take off layers as your body temperature rises.
If you plan on running in the water I highly advise you to pick up a beanie or skull cap to cover your head and ears. I’ve run in -8 temperatures with snow and ice on the ground and I remained warm by wearing several thin layers, a skull cap and a scarf around my face.
Another product I strongly advise you to get is a pair of traction aids which make sure you don’t slip and slide around when you’re running. They reduce the possibility of you pulling muscles getting fractures and back problems. They are made out of rubber and slip over your existing running shoe, the bottom has small spikes which grip the surface. Having used these in the most horrific amount of snow and ice, I can vouch that they grip well and last a long time. Some die hard runners will actually put household screws into the bottom of their running shoes but I think that is overkill. Tractions only cost around thirty dollars and you don’t end up ruining an expensive pair of shoes.
If you plan to run at night, you don’t have to buy an entire outfit which has reflective material built into it, instead you can go down to a local dollar store and pick up reflectors that you can put around your ankles, arms and even on your hat. It might not look the coolest but it does the trick.
GET A RUNNING PARTNER
Join a local running club, most specialized running stores have on going running clubs which new runners can join and learn the basics of running. These clubs will usually meet on a weekly basis and will aim towards a goal, like a 5k run by building up to it slowly over the weeks. It’s a great way to meet new people, learn to run correctly and stay motivated in those early days. Believe me once you have been running for a long time, motivation becomes internal and you will find yourself biting at the bit to get out there and go for a run.
If you don’t want to join a club, then ask a friend to go running with you. Challenge them to lose some weight; it will give you both something to go for as well as time to chat.
If there are no clubs in your area and your friends think you’re mad, then take your dog with you. I ran my first 5K with my dog. They make great running partners and it’s a great way to bond with your pet.
If you don’t have a pet, no friends to run with and the area you live in doesn’t run a club, consider downloading from the coach to 5k website their running program and placing it on your MP3 player. It’s like having a running partner with you. It takes you through the process of building up to running your first 5k over a period of 9 weeks. Each time you run, it takes you through a combination of light warm-ups, walking, running, rest periods and a cool down. When I first got started running, I followed their program to the letter and actually ended up completing my first 5k within six weeks instead of nine. I highly recommend it, and the best part is it’s free to download.
STRETCH, STRETCH AND STRETCH SOME MORE
Another common mistake that new runners make is not spending enough time stretching before and after they run. It’s super critical to stretch your muscles before you head out, especially when you’ve just started running. You’re going to feel muscles you have never felt before. When I first got started running, I did minimal stretching and boy did I ever feel it afterwards. I actually felt a lot of pain in my hip muscle. I begin stretching before and after and noticed a dramatic difference not only in the amount of time I could run but my recovery time was fast too.
MAKE IT A HABIT
Get into the habit of running two or three times a week, don’t be too concerned about how far you should run each time, just get into the process of running weekly. After several weeks you will start to notice that your mental alarm clock will go off, letting you know it’s time to go running.
MIX UP RUNNING SURFACES
When I first got started running, I ran around the housing area that I lived in; it was all pavements with a lot of up and down hills. Pavement running is hard on the joints, so be sure to mix it up, take a day or two where you drive out to a local country trail and run on a gravel/mud surface. You will notice the difference in the way your body feels as well as your times if you’re timing your runs.
Life can throw a number of curve balls at us. Don’t worry about sticking to the same running time, routine or route. Enjoy your running and the different places you can do it. Find out where your local trails are in your area and if you always run city, go run the trails. If you only run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; try changing it to different days of the week. Run at night, in the winter, in the summer, in the mornings. What is important is you enjoy doing it.
FIND A MENTOR
It really does help to have someone that you can go to who has been running for a long time. That might be a club, an online running community or someone you know from work. They will motivate you, inspire you and point out areas that you can improve on.
Every week or once a month, treat yourself. It’s an amazing accomplishment to see someone who has never run before, discover the joy of running. You deserve to reward yourself, whatever that might be.
Emily Green, WeirdMojo
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When you purchase an automobile it comes with an owners manual, when you purchase a dishwasher it comes with an operating guide and when you purchase even the simplest of items, they now come with a little infographic type of instruction.
When you buy a t-shirt or tank top, what do you get? Nothing.