So you’ve just started running or are about to take up running for the first time. With so much information out there on the right way to start, the right things to do, techniques, equipment, stride.... come on guys its running. It’s supposed to be the simplest of all sports!. You know, one foot in front of the other sort of thing. The truth is that for those trying out running for the first time, the simpler the better as long as you have consulted with your physician and follow just a few key fundamentals to keep yourself healthy and un-injured. Here are 3 simple do’s and dont’s that someone new to running can use to make their first few months good ones. Once you’ve had a good couple of uncomplicated fun months and have increased your fitness level and running ability, then you can start getting fancier with your training.
DO...get fitted with proper running shoes by a trained staff member of a running specialty store. The right pair of shoes will make your running more fun and help prevent injury.
DONT...get stressed out about pacing or distance. During your first month give yourself time goals. An example could be running for 20 minutes at conversation pace (conversation pace means that you are able to hold a conversation while running and are not gasping for air, making it impossible or difficult to talk). During your second month you can start running distances and timing yourself while always running at conversation pace (this is really fun because you’ll notice that you are running the same distance in less time while still expending the same amount of effort and energy...hey, you’re getting in shape).
DO...run and walk. Running too much, too far or too fast too soon, will lead you to soreness, injury and likely the conclusion that running is not for you. The truth is running can and will be wonderful as long as you work your way into it progressively. Start by walking for a minute, then run for minute then work your way up to walking for a minute then running for two, then three and so on. Gradually work your way up to running your entire time or distance. Remember this is training not racing and you just started. If you feel any pain during your run stop and walk.
DONT...run every day. Recovery is as important as running. Run three days a week and not consecutive days, then you can work your way to every second day and so on. Training involves subjecting your body to stress (running) and then during recovery, physiological adaptations occur. These adaptations are what improves your fitness level, strength, endurance and running ability. These adaptations only occur during recovery. Insufficient recovery = insufficient adaptations and overtraining, overtraining = injury, injury = no running.
DO...have fun and don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy the entire experience of being active, outside, the scenery etc. These first couple of months are more about loving the experience and experiencing the benefits without the rigors of serious training. Relax and enjoy the stress relief, increased energy and of course coming home with all the neighbourhood news you’ve discovered along your run. The funny thing is experience tells us that the less aggressive you are with your training in the first few months after taking up running, the more likely you are to succeed long term.
DONT...start a new diet and running at the same time. If you are running with weight loss as a goal, running and dieting can go very well together but both cause your body to go though significant adaptations. Asking your body to adapt to too much at the same time, especially reduced caloric intake and increase caloric expenditure can make for a rather unpleasant experience and even lead to problems. The two can and should be gradually worked into one another rather than started simultaneously.
Have fun with your progression from walk/run to running and once your first few months of conditioning are done, then let’s get serious with goals and a program for achieving them (but that’s another article).