Running offers many great health benefits, such as weight loss, improved cardiovascular fitness, and stronger bones and muscles. Even better, it has one of the lowest barriers to entry among all fitness routines—all you need are running shoes, half an hour of free time, and good old-fashioned commitment.
But before you lace up your shoes and hit the pavement, take note of these crucial tips for newbie runners:
Invest in Quality Shoes and Socks
Your feet can take a beating during runs, so it’s important to choose sneakers that can withstand the harsh impact of running. Also, make sure to buy shoes that fit snugly without being too tight. To check, walk around in them for a bit to ensure they’re the perfect fit. As for socks, purchase ones meant specifically for running. Thick, slide-resistant socks protect your feet from blisters that most newbie runners develop.
Since you’re just starting out, comfortable, loose-fitting clothes will do the job for now. Once you’ve started running longer distances, however, invest in clothes made of high-performance synthetic fabrics that wick away sweat and reduce skin irritation. Stay away from 100% cotton, though, since it retains moisture and may cause irritation, chafing, and blisters.
Have a Game Plan
As with everything else, getting into the running habit starts with baby steps. Plan the frequency of your runs, plot out your route, set the distance or duration per session, and put them all in a log. This way, you can pace yourself and avoid injuries that result from running too fast, too soon.
Plan Your Pre- and Post-Run Meals
What you eat before and after running can maximize its benefits. For example, carbohydrates will fuel your body during runs, while protein helps repair the muscles you exerted. Ideal food to eat include chicken, eggs, and veggies. Check out our list of food that best complement your workout.
Keep your feet from getting blisters by applying petroleum jelly or other lubricants on your heels, toes, and other blister-prone areas before putting on your socks. If you feel a blister developing, place an adhesive bandage on the tender area or apply more petroleum jelly to prevent the blister from fully forming.
Find a Running Buddy or Group
Running with a partner or a group is more effective because they help motivate and inspire you to keep running. When you have other people holding you accountable to your fitness goals, it’s harder to succumb to excuses and skip your running session.
Keep yourself hydrated before, during, and after your run to avoid heat injuries such as heat stroke. Be sure to drink 2 oz. of water two hours before your run, and drink small sips of water whenever you feel thirsty. When running for longer than 45-60 minutes, it’s advisable to drink a sports drink to replenish electrolytes and nutrients that are lost while sweating.
Don’t Forget Warm Ups and Cool Downs
Warm-ups loosen your joints, stretches your muscles, and increases blood circulation, which helps prevent injuries while running.
On the other hand, cool downs allow your body to recover from the intensity of exercising, preventing problems such as dizziness or even fainting.
Learn Proper Form
As with any other sport, running requires proper form and technique to minimize stress on your body.
When running, your eyes should be looking forward, your shoulders and hands should be relaxed, your arms must be at waist level, and your posture has to be straight. As for your stride and fall, remember to land mid-foot and avoid bouncing on your feet to prevent shin pain and other injuries.
Proper breathing technique also helps your endurance. Remember to breathe through your mouth and nose to provide enough oxygen to your body.
Don’t Push It
Exercise is all about challenging yourself, but know when to pull back. If it’s too hot outside or if it’s been raining non-stop, you can always run on a treadmill to avoid heatstroke or slipping on the pavement. Luckily, treadmills like the EXCITE®+ Run Now has a unique feature called MyRunning Logbook which pairs with your favorite running app, allowing you to recreate outdoor routes right in the comfort of your own home.