If you are looking for a way to get in shape, then there is no better activity than running to get you there. A solo activity that's easy to make time for even in a busy schedule, running trumps other sports in terms of sheer convenience and accessibility. It can also be a lot of fun, providing you with opportunities to test yourself based on pace, distance, terrain, and more. Before you head out the door for your first run, though, keep the 10 tips below in mind to ensure the most fulfilling experience possible.
- Invest in a good pair of running shoes
- Also invest in other gear
- Get in the habit
- Find a few new routes
- Run with friends or family members
- Listen to music
- Start small and build up
- Mix up your training
- Set goals for yourself
- Remember to stretch
Invest in a good pair of running shoes
The first tip that any runner will give you is almost always going to have something to do with running shoes. Essentially, you don't want to run in just any pair of sneakers or worn out athletic shoes you have lying around the house. Instead, you should start shopping for a pair of shoes that were actually designed with running in mind?and just as importantly, a pair of shoes that fit your feet perfectly and offer ample arch support.
Also invest in other gear
You won't need a lot of specialized gear to be a runner, beyond the shoes. With that said, it's still a good idea to pick up a pick up a few running shirts and a few pairs of running shorts. Having the right gear will make running more comfortable and help you avoid chafing or blisters.
Get in the habit
You're never really going to be a runner if you only go once or twice a week or if you only decide to head out when the weather is perfect. Fit running into your daily schedule and stick to the habit, whether that means getting up early to go for a run or leaving some time open when you get home from work in the afternoon. Even if there are days when you only have time for a 10-minute jog, running every day will eventually become something you want to do instead of a something you're checking off your to-do list.
Find a few routes
Running the same trail or loop through your neighborhood every day will result in running becoming boring and monotonous quickly. Find a number of different routes and trails near you and rotate them. The change of scenery will keep things fresh and fun.
Run with friends or family members
One of the perks of becoming a runner is that you have an exercise activity you can do on your own. Still, running with other people can be a great opportunity too. Jogging for an hour with a friend or family member can be a great opportunity to chat and catch up while training with a die-hard runner can encourage you to push beyond your comfort zone to keep up with a more demanding pace.
Listen to music
Studies have repeatedly shown the positive effects that listening to music can have on exercise. Whether you are looking to push your pace or last through a 60-minute run, bringing an mp3 player packed with your favorite tunes is a good way to keep your blood pumping.
Start small and build up
Every runner has to start somewhere. You aren't going to be running marathons in your first week or even your first few years. Instead, get started by just taking short, steady runs?maybe 10 or 20 minutes. Then, gradually build up your distance and pace. You'll find yourself getting stronger and faster in no time.
Mix up your training
Once you've got a few weeks of running under your belt, try to carve out a weekly schedule. Pair shorter runs with longer runs, flatter runs with hillier runs, and faster runs with slower, more relaxed training sessions. Give yourself rest days. Use other exercise types like hiking to give yourself opportunities for cross training. All of these strategies will help you to reap the fullest benefits possible from your running.
Set goals for yourself
When you are just running every day, with no real goals, it can be tough to stay motivated?especially on rainy or snowy days. Set a goal to keep yourself motivated, be it a 5k or 10k road race in the area or the idea of running a marathon sometime soon.
Remember to stretch
First-time runners often make the mistake of not stretching before or after exercising. Not stretching before your run can result in tight muscles, making it more difficult to get up to the pace you want to reach. Not stretching afterward will result in your legs feeling dead, achy, and heavy the next day, and can quickly lead to very painful shin splits. Look up a running stretching regimen online, and make a point to keep to it before and after you run.
Finally, just remember to have fun! Running can be tough some days, but pushing through and keeping with it will quickly have you feeling stronger, healthier, and happier?both when you're exercising and when you aren't.