Tips for New Runners

Running is terrific exercise but it requires hard work, dedication and know-how.

Every runner should know the basics about gear, scheduling and nutrition.

Get Proper Footwear

This is a step you cannot afford to overlook. Buying bargain shoes is definitely tempting, especially when running shoes can be well over $100 a pair. The money spent here may save you blisters and injuries down the road. The quality is worth it. Cheap shoes won't last as long and might not provide enough support or cushioning which can lead to injuries.

New runners should get fitted for proper shoes. Many communities have running stores that provide this service free-of-charge. It's very simple. You'll be asked to jog on a treadmill for no more than 2 minutes. A specialist at the store will watch your feet and legs to see where your feet land, how they kick up, and any other nuances that indicate your style of running. Typically, they'll ask to see your feet as well (mostly to see what type of arches you have). From there, they'll bring out several shoes for you try out.

Buy Running Shoes One Half Size Too Big

If you buy your running shoes too tight, you'll jam your toes against the inside of the shoe while running. This can result in black toe nails. Black toe nails are relatively painless, but very unsightly. A blister forms underneath the nail, causing the nail to look black. In most cases, the nail will eventually fall off leaving you with a rather odd looking toe. Buying your running shoes one half size bigger than your dress shoes will eliminate this problem.

Invest In Moisture Wicking Gear

Moisture wicking gear is not a must for any runner, but it does make running an easier and more enjoyable experience. The fabric is designed to wick moisture away from the body, keeping the body cooler during activity and allowing the garments to dry faster. Moisture wicking fabric is also light-weight, helping out during those winter months where bulky cotton can weigh you down. Cotton and other fabrics tend to soak the moisture in and can be heavier and less comfortable on long runs.

Pay Attention To Your Body

Running, like all physical activities, takes a toll on your body. Some soreness and stiffness is to be expected at first, but don't allow a minor injury to turn into a major one. If you have persistent pains in your legs, knees, or back, you may be in the wrong shoes or your body may just need a break. Whatever the case, pay attention and listen to your body. Most of the time, it will tell you what it needs before a large problem arises. Do not be afraid to ask other runners, running store employees or doctors about any aches or pains.

Start Slow

So many times, new runners will dive right into a program and begin running mile after mile after mile. This can lead to burn out or injury. Start off with short runs a few times a week. Three or four mile runs 2-3 times a week is an excellent way to break into running. You'll have at least a day's break between each run to rest and allow your body to repair itself. You risk injury if you begin running and do multiple long runs per week. Build up to long runs slowly and give your body enough rest.

Eat Properly

Nutrition is key for runners. Give your body what it needs to perform it's best. Give it carbs, the good kinds. Go whole grain when you can, eat sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, brown rice instead of white, and eat whole grain cereals instead of sugary cereals. Get plenty of vegetables and fruit and try to keep your meats lean. Your body is going to need a good bit of protein to repair muscle. Fish is a good option because of the extra benefit of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Plan Your Runs

Try to plan your routes out ahead of time. Take into consideration bathrooms, water stops, hills, and the distance from your base. Your base can either be your home or your car if you're driving to a trail or other start point. Try never to wander too far from your base, five miles perhaps. Keep it to a distance you can safely walk if you get a pain, a cramp, or dehydrated.

You can spend a lot of money and get watches with built in GPS units, or you can plan your runs ahead of time using free services such as Google maps pedometer. Either way works well, but as a new runner you may want to save on the expense until you're sure you'll want to run for many years to come.

Learn to Shrug Off Bad Runs

You've just come home from work and you're excited about your evening run. You ate spaghetti for lunch, drank plenty of water throughout the day and planned your route ahead of time. You switch clothes, do some stretches, and get ready for a great four mile run. Twenty minutes later you've only gone a mile and half and you feel exhausted. Your forced to walk home feeling defeated. This is a bad run, and everyone has them. At some point, your body will be too tired, too stressed, or too bored to perform at an optimal level. Shrug it off. It happens. Even gold medal marathon runners have bad runs. Go home and relax, eat a nice dinner and take a long, hot bath. You have the rest of your life to run, don't let this discourage you.

Have Fun and Stick With It

No matter how much you love running, it will eventually seem like a chore. You will have a run that doesn't go well, you will get sore, it happens. Running takes self-discipline and self-motivation. You'll rarely find a running cheerleader. Most people will tell you you're crazy for spending your free time running. Ignore them. Running is challenging and exciting. So go for it!

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