Figuring out how to start running can be a daunting task.
Perhaps the most exercise you get right now is running to the refrigerator or bathroom during the commercial break of your favorite TV shows. You may have wrestled with the thought of getting more serious about your fitness and possibly even starting a running routine. However, you have no idea how to start.
Your desire to succeed is half the battle! Besides that, when learning how to start running, all you need are some sound tips and advice to get started on the right foot.
First of all, why should I start running?
Clearly, running can have an immeasurable impact on your physical health, including helping with weight loss, strengthening muscles and improving cardiovascular fitness.
This is also one of the best forms of exercise for your mental health. Running can help improve your mood, reduce stress levels and depression and keep you more mentally sharp.
How often should I run?
When you start running, plan on 20 to 30 minutes a day, two to three times a week. You can build up your endurance from there and setting goals for yourself will also help. An eventual goal of running four to five times a week or signing up to run a 5K might be good, but be sure your goals work for your body.
How fast should I run?
Speed isn’t really important, especially when you’re starting out. You’ll want to start slow with a run-walk combination.
One approach in early running workouts is to exercise for 20 minutes, alternating three or four minutes of walking with one minute of running. You can gradually increase your exercise time as well as shorten the amount of time you’re walking.
If you’re feeling good early on, you’ll be tempted to go further and faster right away. However, to prevent injury, be patient with your running program. Try not to increase your speed or distance by more than 10 percent each week and take walk breaks if needed.
What’s the best time to run?
Really, it depends on what your job or family responsibilities will allow. Studies have shown that later afternoon or early evening are the best times to run. However, there are benefits to any time of day.
Running in the morning, for example, is good for fat-burning, muscle-building and lowering blood pressure for the day. Evening runs help lower your nighttime blood pressure, and running in the late afternoon or early evening helps you improve your form and build muscles.
Is it possible to run too much?
Yes, you can run too much, so it is important to avoid doing too much, too soon.
Running can be challenging for your muscles and joints, so your body needs to slowly build up its strength and endurance. If you increase your time, distance or speed too quickly, you run the risk of injury.
Listen to your body. If you experience discomfort in your upper body, faintness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath or pain in your joints, you need to back off. Other symptoms of overtraining can include sleep disruption, change in appetite, injuries and loss of enthusiasm for running.
Is running better than walking?
Running and walking both have health benefits. Running can burn twice as many calories per minute as walking and generally has greater health benefits overall for the time you’re investing.
Walking is good for your health, but walking faster is even better. While running is high-impact, walking is a lower-impact exercise and can be done for longer periods of time. It carries less injury risk, so it’s a suggested workout for people with knee, ankle and back problems.
Should I consider cross-training?
You don’t want to cause too much stress on your joints and muscles by focusing only on running. Consider other activities such as cycling, swimming, rowing, strength training or walking a couple of days a week in addition to your running program. Everyone’s fitness levels are different, so just make sure your fitness routine fits yours.
Does it matter if I run inside or outside?
Running in any setting has its benefits. However, running outside on a road or trail generally burns more calories and is a more effective workout than running on a treadmill.
What should I wear?
Overall, running is a rather inexpensive form of exercise. But it’s worth buying a new pair of running shoes to lessen the impact on your muscles and joints.
You might also consider appropriate clothing, which can be lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics. Wearing a hat can be a good idea to protect you from the sun. And don’t forget the sunscreen!
Should I join a running club?
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced road warrior, running clubs have a spot for you. In addition to the social aspect, you can gain support, safety tips, advice from a running coach and other benefits. They can also help you track your progress.
You can also learn about local races when you’re ready to take that step. Signing up for a race and paying for it will help you stay motivated.
What should I eat or drink?
With your increased activity level, you need to eat a well-balanced diet.
Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean protein will help your body recover. Excess sugar and processed foods can cause a spike in your blood sugar level, so stay away from them. You’ll need to make sure you are staying hydrated and drinking enough water.
Is it OK to listen to music?
Yes! Listening to music or a podcast can help you relax and take your mind off the physical hurdles you’re trying to overcome. However, wear earphones with caution, especially when you’re running outside near traffic or other congested areas. Always be aware of your surroundings!
Learn about the sports medicine services we offer at Bon Secours.