So You Want to Start Running?

Decided to get out there and turn your life?  Are you looking to lose a few pounds, or maybe just get into better shape.  No matter the reason, running is a great way to help improve your health and overall well-being.  This guide of do’s and don’t is here to help you avoid some of the common mistakes of running.

Don’t take up running if you are significantly overweight or obese.  It is great that you have decided to commit to exercising and becoming healthier; however, running is a relatively high-impact form of exercise.  While much of the talk of running destroying your knees is overblown, the chance of chronic injury goes up significantly if you are obese, especially if you overdo it early in your training.  Look at other, lower impact forms of exercise like walking, biking, or swimming.

Do progress slowly.  You’re eager, and that is great.  However, as mentioned above, overdoing early is the easiest way to hurt yourself and get rid of all that eagerness.  So, for the first week or two, err on the side of caution. Start with a mile or even a half mile a day. If you wake up the day after a run and every muscle in your leg is sore, then turn today’s run into a walk.  You are building a lifetime of healthy habits, so making sure you don’t go off the rails at the start isn’t a big deal.

Don’t buy unnecessary stuff, especially supplements  Most of these items won’t make you any better.  The only thing you really need to run is a good pair of shoes, and even those can wait until you are committed and running enough to .  Speaking of shoes…

Do buy your shoes at a brick and mortar running or athletics specialty store.  Yes, you can buy shoes online for easily 60 percent of what you will pay at a brick and mortar store, but a lot of what you pay for at an actual store isn’t the shoes. It’s the knowledge that the store personnel have.  Any good running store will probably do things like have you run or walk in front of them to see how your stride looks. Based on that, they’ll probably have you try on a bunch of shoes to see which ones you like.  Feel free to ask questions, as a lot of the employees have likely spent large portions of their life running.

Don’t skip days.  A huge part of starting to run, or anything else for that matter, is about building the habit.  So, never, never, never do nothing on a given day, unless you had determined before that it was going to be a rest day.  If you do wake up and are terribly sore, then walk or bike or lift some weights or really any type of exercise.  To be perfectly honest, the first two weeks of running aren’t going to feel great.  You will likely feel like you’re just gasping for air during the runs, and you will almost certainly feel sore afterwards.  The key point is to not give up, and not to find a reason to do nothing.  It will get better if you stick with it.

Do eat healthy.  You do not need to buy a whole slew of supplements to run, but you do need to make sure that you are eating a balanced and healthy diet.  Running will increase your metabolism (yay!), but this means that if you aren’t getting enough of one nutrient, it will strain you body even more and likely make you feel poorly.  So, make sure you are eating right.

Don’t run on rough or uneven surfaces.  Eventually, you might find it thrilling to run across your favorite hiking trail, agilely navigating over the rock and roots along the way.  However, it is just going to increase the strain on your body and the chance of an injury like a sprained ankle at first.  So find smooth, flat places to run.  The ideal place would be a clear, clean dirt path, but tracks, sidewalks, and streets will do (If you run in the street, run on the left side so that you can see cars come toward you.  Also be extra vigilant and stay safe).   

Do other exercises.  So, this is something that you might wait until you are past that first week or two to start, but doing additional exercises will help you avoid injury and improve your overall health.  In particular, you will want to strengthen your core.  These muscles help stabilize your body throughout the process of your stride.  Making sure that they are strong makes sure that each step is smoother, more consistent, and less likely to cause injury.

Don’t just read this.  Yes, this will help you avoid common mistakes, but there is a wealth of knowledge on all aspects of running out there.  Injury, nutrition, training, metabolism, equipment, you name it, there’s information out there.  It can be overwhelming, which is why this article is here, but as you continue along your running journey, keep on learning more.  It will help you be a better, healthier runner.

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