Most new fitness enthusiasts often consider running as their first choice because of its low start-up cost. However, this low requirement and because running feels like doing what just feels natural has led many brand new runners to prepare less. To become a better runner, there are some physical and mental preparations you have to put in place even if you are new or have a little experience in running.
The following running tips for beginners will help ensure your success and avoid injuries in your running adventure.
Set realistic goals
Come to think of it, why would you stay committed to running when you have no good reason to do so? Why would you remain consistent in your rigorous training sessions if not to be an efficient runner and to enjoy the feel-good factor that comes with winning a race? Becoming an efficient runner does not come on a silver platter; it requires some efforts and focuses on your own part.
Just like every other fitness exercises, you need to set yourself a goal to keep you moving and help you stay committed to improving on your running techniques.
Your goals should be SMART and help you stay focused.For instance, as a beginner, you can enroll for a 5k race and focus on completing the race without stopping or to finish the race under a certain amount of time. This will not only help in improving your running skills but also increases your experience and focus on achieving your goals. Note that your first experience might be rough, but you will definitely get better with time.
Invest in the right running gears
Running is an inexpensive exercise - once you acquire the basic gears, you are good to go. However, you have to get yourself the right kit for you to have the best running experience. Don’t pick up any running gear just because you like them or because they look good without considering their pros and cons. Invest in some specialist running underwear, tops, shorts, socks, and shoes.
Note that100% cotton materials tend to retain more moisture and this causes irritation or blisters. Hence, moisture-wicking tops, undies, and socks made from breathable fabrics like Wrightsocks™ and Runderwear™ will do the job.
To select the best running shoe, visit your local specialist running shop to have your gait analyzed. This will help figure out your foot strike pattern to know if you overpronate or not. This will help you in selecting the right shoe for your foot type. If you are the type that loves a quiet and solitude running, a rustic path might be ideal for you.
If you, however, love listening to a combination of music or podcasts as you run, then it is important to choose, organize and update your playlists. This will help keep your spirit lifted and make you forget or manage the pains of running.
Find and follow a training plan
One effective method of achieving success is to get yourself the right training plan and stay committed to it. It is important to find a training plan that will take you through the right running techniques to become more efficient and avoid injuries. You can get a plan to direct you on the course of actions to take via a coach, a training app or through a website.
Get a coach
You may have to get yourself a reliable coach depending on your fitness or training goal. A reliable coach will help you with the workout exercise you need to carry out, the number of miles to run, direct you on how to get faster, encourage you when you feel depressed and also add a dose of reality when you need to train more aggressively.
Get timing and tracking device
Whether or not you are training on your own, you need to get yourself a tracking and timing device to monitor your progress. Nowadays, mobile phones are used as a tracking device because they come in handy but may feel awkward to carry while running. Mobile apps like MapMyRun and RunKeper can use your device’s GPS to automatically record your distance, pace and routes making it easy to track your progress.
Apart from your mobile phones, you can also use other devices like GPS watch, and activity tracker to manage your time and track your progress. The picture below shows different timing and tracking devices as well as their benefits and drawbacks.
Alternate running with working, especially at the very beginning
As a brand new runner, there is no need for you to think you can hit the track and run like a pro for 30 minutes or even more without stopping or resting along the way. You don’t have to push yourself above your limits, start small and gradually develop your abilities.
Alternate your runs with walking especially when running a longer distance for the first time. You can take a minute of running and alternate it with a minute of walking till you complete the race or switch to short walk breaks each time you feel you need to. You can equally slow down your speed and run at a pace that feels comfortable.
This will keep you from expending much energy and make you feel less fatigued at the end of the race.
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Get a running group
One way to keep yourself inspired, motivated, accountable and committed is by joining a running group or having at least a running buddy. There will be times when you won’t feel like running, but knowing that a friend or your group would be waiting for you is enough to motivate you to climb out of your bed. You can learn from other runners what worked for them to help you figure out what would work best for you.
Click here to read more about the benefit of solo and group running.
What you eat is just as important as your running gears. Taking the right mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fat will provide you the energy needed to fuel your race and aid recovery once you finish. You will easily get tired by running on an empty stomach, the same way you can easily get a stomach upset when you eat too much or take meals that are high in protein and fat.
Digestion tends to stop or slow down when you run, this is why you have to figure out the meal or snacks that work best for you and plan an ideal time to eat (preferably 1-2hours before running and within 15mins after racing) in order to digest the food to provide you the needed energy for a perfect fuelling.
Although proper hydration is important for an efficient run, you should avoid over hydrating and drink only when you feel thirsty. Choose your hydration drink carefully and this should be according to the length of your workout. Marathoners can go for electrolytes and sports drinks to energize and get themselves hydrated while running. However, water is considered an ideal option for runners running less than 1 hour.
It is also important to stay off alcohol as it affects hydration levels and sleep quality as well as recovery. You may also calculate your sweat rate to determine the quantity of hydration drink to carry along for your training or running exercise. You can equally use an app like Plant Nanny to track your hydration level and also to remind you to remain hydrated.
Warm up before a race
You don’t have to perform rigorous stretches or exercise to get your body acclimated just before you run. Save all these for later since they may not help you prevent injury and might even impact your performance negatively when performed just before you run. Dynamic exercises like squats, form drills, lunges might be all you need.
Because you are already into a running exercise does not mean that you should neglect other workout exercises. There are lots of exercises you can perform to improve your form and running efficiency, even when you are injured. Exercise like sun salutations for runners, yoga core strengthening exercises, yoga exercise for runner’s legs and moves for strength, agility, and speed can stretch and strengthen every part of your body and also help in injury prevention and improvement.
Pay attention to your body
Becoming an efficient runner does not only depend on strong legs, awesome running gears, proper fueling but also on powerful senses and mental ability. Powerful senses and strong mental ability will not only help you stay focused but also to help you determine the kind of food that works for you, the routes to take, spot injuries and discomfort within your body system and the time you have to take a rest. Listen to your body and figure out if you what you are experiencing is a regular workout-related muscle ache. Avoid running through pains, get the soreness treated and ensure your recovery before embarking on your next run.
Your resting days are part of your training. To become fitter, stronger and more efficient, you to rest well and recover from your previous workouts. Avoid being driven by too much ambition to the extent of skipping your resting days. Note that inadequate rest can make you feel tired, sore and sluggish. When you begin your running program, you can plan your training days to have at least a day of rest in between runs.