Beginning a new habit is always a little daunting. Starting a running routine can be overwhelming and stressful for a beginner. However, starting a new running routine does not have to be difficult. In fact, it can actually be quite fun and rewarding. Here is a complete beginner’s guide to get you started.
Different Running Plans
The most tried and true method for new runners is intervals, or the “run/walk” method. It is also a fantastic way for any runner of any experience level to better their run times. For beginners, it is recommended that you run for 10 to 30 seconds, followed by walking for 1 to 2 minutes for the duration of your run.
Taking the walking breaks makes race training less demanding, as well as reducing your risk of injury as you give your body some recovery time during your run. There are also different training methods to add to your interval training. A basic plan might include:
- Interval running for 20-30 minutes two days a week
- A longer run (or interval run) on the weekend
- Rest or cross train on off days (try not to target muscle groups used when running)
- Run at a natural pace
There are also a number of different races to aim for by the end of your training plan. Beginners can train for a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon. There are endless options for training plans for all of these races, so researching and finding what is right for you is key.
The wonderful thing about running is that you do not really need a whole host of equipment to get started. With that being said, your feet are crucial to your running experience, so most of your equipment will be tailored around them.
Your shoes come first. Try to avoid gimmicks and brand names. Specialty running stores can help you find a shoe tailored to your gait, but if you just jog around the store a bit, your feet will tell you everything you need to know. The key thing to look for in a running shoe is comfort. Finding a shoe that feels good is essential.
Aside from shoes, socks are also important. Socks that fall down inside the shoe or get bunched up can cause blisters, making your running experience painful and, sometimes, unbearable. Look for a tighter sock made from a breathable material that does not choke your feet. Test them out before investing in more pairs.
Technology can add to your running experience. While it is certainly not necessary, a timing device can help you manage your training. You can use something as simple as a basic timer or your phone, all the way up to specialized activity trackers and watches with GPS. This is tailored to personal preference.
Any time you push your body more than it is used to, you will probably experience soreness and aching in the muscles. This is prevalent in the quadriceps and calves for runners. However, there are some pains that you should not ignore. Sharp pains that get worse as you run or persist after you run are a sign that you should take a rest day and see a doctor. Take special notice of any pains that are on one side of the body, but do not spread to the other.
What to Eat and Drink
Hydration is key when it comes to running. However, many new runners overthink their hydration, which can lead to drinking too much. The main rule of thumb when it comes to hydration is drinking water when you are thirsty. Carrying a water bottle with you can help you out.
The size of your fist is a good guideline for how much to eat before and after going for a run. Including carbs and protein in your meal is a good tip. Eating half of a peanut butter sandwich one hour before going for a run and following your run with the other half works wonders. Try to eat one hour before your run and within fifteen minutes of stopping.
Stretching is usually a preference-based argument for most runners. However, there are some guidelines to follow when stretching after a run.
- Stretch after a run. Do not stretch cold muscles.
- Ease into your stretches. Do not force them.
- Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on each leg.
There is no evidence that stretching before running prevents injury. If you do not have time or do not want to stretch before a run, it is not the end of the world.
Side stitches are common in the world of running, known for their spasms and cramps in the midsection of the body. It is common among runners who slouch while running. Taking a deep breath and arching your back should alleviate the problem, as well as running with a more upright posture. However, if they persist, be cautious and see a doctor.
Leg cramps are also common in runners. Starting out at a speed that is higher than your normal pace can invite cramping, but also running through fatigue. Stretching the muscles with the cramps is a great way to help ease the pain.
How about a Review?
The best start for new runners is to invest in the right pair of running shoes. This will help you avoid injuries down the road as well as making running more comfortable.
Adding walking to your routine seems counterintuitive, but it is actually quite helpful. It helps you build endurance and strength while also giving your muscles time to recover.
Eating a small amount of food an hour before your run can give you the fuel you need to do well. Within fifteen minutes of the end of your run, eat another small amount to aid in recovery.
Stretching is a hot topic. Remember not to stretch cold muscles; stretching after your run is more beneficial. Watch for persistent side stitches and leg cramps, as these can be a sign of poor form.