As the weather gets nicer, you may be tempted to go outside more and exercise.
Whether you’re walking, biking, or just lounging in the sun — getting outside is great. But maybe you want to get your heart rate up and start exercising in the fresh air. After all, we now have more daylight in the morning and the evening.
An enjoyable exercise to do outside that doesn’t require a lot of equipment and can be done by nearly anyone at a wide range of levels is running!
If you want to get into running, all you need are a pair of good shoes. When you’re running, your heart rate rises, your muscles get worked, and you get the endorphins afterward. Another great plus is that you can go at your own pace. Splitting up your exercise between slow-paced jogs and walks is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged!
Some may be put off running out of fear of injury, but if you’re not pushing yourself harder than you should and you’re following the conventional wisdom, you should be okay!
Today, we have nine tips for those who are looking to start running — whether that’s daily, every other day, or weekly!
1. Make sure you have good shoes
If you go to the shoe store or local sports goods store you may find that there are shoes that are hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Don’t worry, you don’t need the crazy expensive shoes to get the most out of your workout.
What you’re looking for are shoes that offer either cushion, support, or both. It depends on you. Most shoe stores — especially sport goods stores — will have someone who can help you select the proper shoes according to your gait and running goals.
This is the only expense you will have to make if you want to start running, unless you already have some good shoes. But the more frequently you run, you may find you want to invest in a few other items such as running attire or a belt to hold your water bottle, phone, and keys.
2. Don’t let yourself think you’re not a runner
If you’re lacing up your shoes and getting out there… you’re a runner!
Many people worry that they’re not a real runner if they don’t run at a certain pace, distance, with a smartwatch, in marathons — you name it. But there is no threshold, nor are there any gatekeepers. (And if someone tries to tell you that you’re not a runner for any reason, that’s their problem!)
The truth is, once you “show up” and get out there, you’re a runner. Not only is this mindset essential for your motivation, it also plays a role in how you’ll take care of yourself while exercising.
3. Be realistic
Okay, after trying to get you motivated, this one may seem like a downer. But it’s not! In fact, the opposite is the case. If you went for your first run this morning, and you’re already signing up for marathons this weekend, you will likely end up disappointing yourself. But when you make a realistic goal and hit it, you’re going to feel much more motivated to keep going!
Be careful comparing yourself and your stats to other runners, especially those on social media. Many of them have been running for a long time and will be more experienced. And it’s more than likely that they’re not posting any of their bad days.
Set reasonable goals that align with your level, gradually increasing them for challenges that are in reach. This is how we get better — bit by bit.
4. Stretch and warm-up with dynamic stretches
Before you head out on your run, it’s important to limber up. Running uses many muscles, especially in the legs, feet, and back. Not stretching them before your run could cause your muscles to become tense and sore, possibly preventing you from reaching your fitness goals.
There’s a distinction that is important to recognize when it comes to stretching. The type of stretching you should do before your run is called dynamic stretching. This is where you are stretching through movement.
For five dynamic workout stretches to do before your run (with visuals) click here!
It’s also a good idea to start a portion of your run walking. Otherwise, the increase in your heart rate may feel more sudden and have you out of breath faster. Start walking briskly until you feel your heart rate has elevated, then pick up your pace.
5. Stretch and cool-down with static stretches
The best time to stretch your muscles is when they are warm following a workout, as they are more relaxed and have a greater range of motion. This is the time to do static stretches — stretches where you stretch a muscle as far as you comfortably can and hold.
Stretching at the end of your workout can help boost your flexibility, reduce the risk of injury, and decrease muscle tension in your body. It can even help improve your performance the next time you work out!
Click here for ten static stretches to do after workouts.
Similar to wanting to gradually increase your heart rate before your run, you will also want to come down gradually. Having the last part of your run be for cooling down with a walk is a great way to do this, followed by your stretch routine.
6. Don’t overdo it
It may be easy to get excited about your new exercise routine and want to push yourself for some results. But the results you will most likely see from overdoing it will be sore muscles or worse — an injury.
When running — especially when first starting out — it’s crucial to listen to your body. Take your time with your pace and take a rest day if you feel you need one. Remember, rest days are equally as important as running days.
7. Be mindful of eating too much
When you start running, you will be burning more calories than usual, so you may find yourself especially hungry after.
Running isn’t an excuse to load up on food, especially junk food. You’re doing your body no favors by eating unhealthy or overeating.
Continue to eat regular portions and healthy carbs — like sweet potatoes, nuts, and legumes. Also, make sure you’re taking in protein to help your muscles recover.
Monitoring your food intake will be especially important if you’re looking to lose some weight through exercise.
8. Stay hydrated
You will need to either have a drink of water before your run and have a big one waiting for you after your run — or bring a water bottle with you. Bringing one along will be preferable, especially if it’s hot out.
Keeping hydrated while running is very important. It optimizes your performance by supporting good circulation and helping your body get the oxygen it needs. It takes pressure off of the cardiovascular system and replaces the fluids lost through sweat.
Don’t underestimate the power of a bit of water while you exercise!
9. Join a running group
Joining a group will help you meet other runners of many different levels. They can offer guidance and support on your journey. There may also be someone at the same level as you that you can run and learn with.
Alternatively, you can find a friend or family member to start running with you. This way, you can keep each other accountable and make the routine a social experience.
Give your body what it needs
To help support any healthy lifestyle with exercise, it’s important to make sure your body is getting the nutrition you need.
Unfortunately, today it can be difficult to know for sure just how much nutrition you’re getting. Many forms of supplements aren’t bioavailable, and the vitamins in our food seem to be decreasing more and more.
For running, vitamin B12 can help optimize your workout. B12 helps in the production of red blood cells which carry oxygen through your body. This way, they can help give your cells the oxygen they need while you’re out on your run so that you can have a great workout!
Don’t let your cells be without the oxygen they need. Get an absorbable form of vitamin B12 that your body can actually use.