20 Tips for a Running Start

Thinking of starting a running program but not sure how? Stop waiting. Summer is here and it’s time to enjoy the outdoors. As long as you have your physician’s okay, anyone can get running with these 20 tips.

  1. Keep a log of your runs. Record your distance, time and how you felt.
  2. Always warm up. Even on slow-run days, make sure you adapt to an increased workload by walking for 3-5 minutes. You will feel strong and comfortable by mid-run and reduce your risk of injury.
  3. Always cool down. Even if you just went for a leisurely jog, blood can still pool in your legs and cause cramps. A 5-minute cool-down is adequate.
  4. Prevent training plateaus. Do speed work (interval training) to up the pace, and make sure you are adding variety to your training program.
  5. Run hill routes. This is a great way to boost your endurance and drastically increase your strength. A good hill should take you 1 minute to charge. Also, look for a course with gradual downhills to prevent injury.
  6. Run stairs. This increases your cardiovascular fitness and has all the benefits of hill running with less joint strain.
  7. Make it routine. If you run at the same time every day you are less likely to skip a run and more likely to look forward to the next day if you do miss a run.
  8. Switch shoes. A certain shoe can place undue stress on one area so alternating footwear every other workout will help relieve lower-body stress. If you like a specific style, just switch a new pair with a slightly worn pair.
  9. Keep hydrated. Learn how much liquid your body needs. Use the sports drink that’s available on the racecourse. Find out how frequently you’ll find water stations and practice drinking at that rate. Also, try a variety of bars and gels on long runs to see which settles best in your stomach.
  10. Protect your skin. A t-shirt has an SPF of about 7 and will not prevent sunburn on sunny days. Apply a high SPF on your body an hour before your run.
  11. Hit the trails. To stay cool on hot runs, hit the trails instead of pounding the pavement. Hard surfaces can retain a lot of heat so opt for running in the shade beneath the trees.
  12. Replenish glycogen stores. Low-fat chocolate milk is a great post-workout recovery drink after those tough runs.
  13. Run backwards. Keep your lower leg muscles balanced by running in the opposite direction. Undue pressure is constantly put on one side of your body if you always run in the same direction. Try this during your warm-up and cool-down.
  14. Try yoga. Yoga is considered the antithesis of running. Running causes muscles to shorten, tighten and compress, whereas yoga lengthens muscles and restores and rejuvenates the body.
  15. Avoid overuse injuries. Rest and allow your body to recover when it is tired (48hrs allows for a complete recovery). Also, stretch every day to restore muscles back to their functional length.
  16. Reduce joint strain. Run on soft surfaces such as trails, dirt and grass.
  17. Try pool running. You can increase your mileage without risking shin splints. This is also a great time for an interval workout. Remember, proper foot mechanics still apply when in water (heel strike and toe-off).
  18. Use a heart rate monitor. This ensures you are training at the right levels of intensity.
  19. Strengthen your core. An advanced level of core strength is very beneficial since a lot of the power for your stride comes from the core. Ensure you strengthen the core over three planes of movement for optimal performance.
  20. Avoid hot showers. The best recovery method after a run is to slip into an ice bath for 5-10 minutes.

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