There’s two types of people: those who love running and those who hate running. Some people get excited at the thought of hitting the pavement and some literally couldn’t find something they dread more. I used to be the later, one of those people who would use literally every piece of gym equipment besides the treadmill. I was that person who could run a quarter mile and be winded and miserable. I never quite got those people who loved to run, yet, I was always a bit envious of them!
I had many reasons why I tried my first running challenge in 2016. I’ve always been into health and fitness for diet/lifestyle reasons but I wanted to really feel capable..Like I could do anything. I wanted to push myself and being able to run far and long made me feel like I was challenging myself in a way I never had. I also felt a bit like I was facing my fears since running on a treadmill with all the other runners at the gym was super intimidating.
So I tried Popsugar’s 8 week Plan to go from walking to running. By the end of it you’re supposed to be able to run a full 30 minutes straight. I never thought I’d actually be able to run a full half hour straight given my ability to run a total of two minutes at the time but I figured “why not?” What was the worst that could happen? Fast forward 2 months of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday runs starting at run 1 minute walk 2 minutes I was able to run the full 30 minutes. Never had I felt so proud and I actually even enjoyed the process and long runs outdoors! I liked it so much I’m doing it again now after a long year of school.
Here’s what I learned from beginning to run… from a true beginner.
Stretch, Stretch, Stretch
I always assumed stretching was for old people with weak limbs. I thought when you’re young your body doesn’t really need to stretch.. when you’re young you’re invincible right? Wrong! Stretching before and after a run is one of the best ways to prevent injury. When you repeatedly put stress on your muscles they get tight and more likely to tear, they also get a build up of lactic acid which can be incredibly uncomfortable. Stretching and foam rolling help prevent both of these making your run way more productive. These are some of my favorites.
In order to run effectively you need to strengthen both your mind and body. Running is a full body exercise so it’s important to make sure your whole body is strong. You use a ton of core strength to stabilize yourself and keep your balance. You also need to keep in mind while running you only use the same muscles time in time again. This causes the muscles you use during a run to be strong but the smaller stabilizing muscles around them to be weak. This can actually do the body a lot of harm and lead to injury. Strength training at the gym using weights could help a lot.
Pick Your Place
Running indoor and running outdoor are two separate ball games. When you’re inside you have to really keep track of your mind because you have less to distract you. Outdoor runners may be exposed to the extremes like heat, rain, and also uneven terrain. You’ll have to use your full core not to let rocks, trees, ect effect your run!
Don’t take on too much too soon. When I first started running on the treadmill I didn’t know what speed to set it for. I think I just kept hitting up until I found a speed that made me feel like I was “running” but I ended up being so winded and out of breath I couldn’t finish. So then I reevaluated and started at the pace of a steady jog.. about 5.4 mph. Starting at a full on sprint can lead to injury and can also lead to disappointment as you’re likely to burn out and not hit your goals. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!
Give Yourself Recovery Time
Another huge mistake I made that led to a lot of pain and frustration. I thought I would just keep showing up to the gym/running outside daily without any break time. Even with adequate stretching this leads to muscle fatigue which one of the biggest causes of injury in the running world. Consistently wearing down the same muscles can make them weak, tired, and more likely to snap/roll. Not pleasant! Thankfully I didn’t have any injury but I did get extremely tight legs that would hurt no matter what I did or how often I stretched. A quick Google told me my problem was not giving my muscles time to recover. Switching to every other day helped immensely.
Watch Your Form
Your running “form” effects so many things. It is so important to make sure you’ve got it correct from the start so you’re not trying to correct habits later. And it’s surprisingly easy to get into a bad form habit as you get tired and make easy compromises to struggle through a run. A lot of runners pull their arms up and in when they’re tired which can create a ton of stress on the shoulder/neck region. I did this which made me get terrible tension headaches! You should have a relaxed upper body and your lower body should be in line with your upper body so you’re not hunched forwards or backwards. You should be looking ahead not down or up and your feet should be pointed straight ahead. Aim to land each stride mid-foot as landing on your toes leads to calf/shin pain and landing on your heel is a huge waste of energy.
I’ve got a lot more tips to share so if you guys enjoyed this post & want another one in the future give it a like/let me know in the comments.