You want to start running. That's great! Running is a big step toward better health and wellness, but also toward self-discovery, new friendships and incredibly meaningful experiences that you'll never forget.
I often get asked for advice from folks who want to start running and need some help and direction. Here are 10 tips for getting started. But before you take that first step, it's probably best to see a doctor.
1) Run in quality shoes designed for your foot type. A car is only as good as its tires. It’s the same with
running shoes. Visit a specialty running store that will match you up with the
right shoes. It's always ideal to start off in new shoes. If your budget is
tight, get whatever running shoes you can. That’s what I did in my early years. A word of caution on running shoes: Never buy a shoe just for
its looks; buy according to comfort. Running shoes will last about four to five
hundred miles. Keep track of your mileage so you know when to replace them.
Always replace your shoes if you start experiencing foot, ankle, knee, hip or
2) Run in socks specifically made for running. Avoid socks that are cotton and instead shoot for socks made
from Coolmax fabric, which will help prevent blisters. I've tried almost every
brand of sock and know what works for me. Find what works for you.
3) Have a positive attitude and be patient. As you get in better shape, you'll find that running feels
more natural and is less and less of a struggle. Start gradually. If running is
new to you, start off with a five-minute walk, one-minute run/jog routine and
add onto your running time as your fitness improves. Above all, be patient.
4) Sprinkle in some cross-training. Cycling, swimming and the elliptical trainer are great
non-impact cross-training options. When I'm really in a zone and clicking off big
miles to prepare for a race, I often don’t have much time to cross-train. Big
mistake. Cross-training works different muscles, helps correct and protect
against muscle imbalances and gives your legs a break from the impact. Make
time for it.
5) Drink plenty of water (but not too much). Drink some water before your run (but not too much) and
rehydrate with water after your run. Don't force water on yourself; drinking
too much water can result in hyponatremia. As a rule of thumb, drink to thirst.
Take some water with you if it’s hot. You don’t need sports drinks unless
you’re running over ninety minutes and even then you may not need them. Sports
drinks are full of sugar. Water is all you need most of the time.
6) Run on the softest-possible surfaces, which are gentler on your joints. This is especially important for those who are overweight.
If you don't have access to dirt trails or dirt roads, run on asphalt in safe
areas. 7) If resources allow, run in breathable clothing. Scandinavians have a saying that goes something along the
lines of, “there’s no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothing.” Having run
in almost all conditions, I agree. What you wear on a run can make all the
difference. Wear breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics like Coolmax. Coolmax apparel
for running is easy to find and readily available at your specialty running
store, online, and at many big-box retailers.
8) Work on flexibility. Static stretching (where you hold a position) can be
stressful on your muscles when done incorrectly. Before a run, I do some leg
swings to activate my hamstrings and hips. I also engage in other dynamic stretches.
Stretching between runs is also beneficial. Yoga is a great way to stay limber
and protect against injury, but don’t overdo it. 9) Work your core. For the runner, strong legs are king, but so is a
well-developed core that includes the abs, hips, glutes and back. Planks are great
for core and overall strengthening.
10) Set manageable, realistic goals. If finishing a marathon is your ultimate goal, start by
setting manageable supporting goals that prepare you for 26.2 miles. Focus on a
strong effort at a local 5K or maybe even 10K and then work up from there. Rome
wasn't built overnight! Look into local running clubs, where you'll benefit
from knowledge, experience and camaraderie. Support from others will help you
work toward and achieve your goals.
Bonus: Be safe. If you’re going to run in the dark, please wear a headlamp,
reflective gear, and ideally a blinking red light. Also carry identification
and a mobile phone. Consider a RoadID bracelet. You can buy the lights and
reflective gear at a specialty running or cycling shop.
The most important tip is also the simplest one: Just go run. What are you waiting for? Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!