Run, Baby Run!
I have a confession to make.
If you know me, you'b probably know that when someone asks me “do you run?” the answer I always give is “only if something is chasing me”. And it was the truth. I hated running. With a passion!
And then something happened last year. Don’t know what exactly. Maybe it was an epiphany moment. Or my brain wires rearranged themselves. Or probably I simply realised I am in my late twenties, my metabolism is slowing down and that ass ain’t gonna run itself off! So I simply picked up running and haven’t stopped since then.
I researched a lot on the topic and learned quite a few tips that really have helped me on this journey, so I thought I’d share them here for any fellow newbie runners like myself.
1. Gear up
Running in the proper shoes is essential! It can save you some serious injuries and back pain so don’t underestimate the importance of the right running shoes. They should have adequate cushioning for running on asphalt and be made with breathable technology (them feet can sweat A LOT!) Feet also swell and lengthen while running, so there should be a thumb’s width wiggle room between your big toe and the nose of the shoe. Remember to replace your shoes after 500 miles as they get worn out. I found this great Running Shoe Buying Guide that helps you select the right type of model for you. Click here to check it out.
A good rule of thumb is to wait at least 2 hours after a meal before you go running. It is best to go on empty stomach but if you are really hungry or you are planning an intense run - grab a banana or a spoonful of peanut butter.
3. STay Hydrated
Here is the thing about running: if you do it right, you will sweat. A lot! So it is important to stay hydrated. Drink at least a glass of water an hour before and keep a bottle handy while running. To avoid feeling bloated - take small sips and often.
4. Warm up
Don’t just start running right away or you risk injury as your muscles have not yet warmed up. Warm up by walking or slowly jogging for 5 to 10 minutes. You can also do the Chi Running Body Looseners, which are simple movements like shaking out you ankles, doing ankle, hip and knee circles, arm swings and hula hoops (pelvic circles). Check the whole shebang in this video: Chi Running Body Looseners
If you run outside it is likely you will face different terrain, wind resistance and up- and downhills. There is none of that when you are at the gym, so to simulate the conditions set the treadmill inclination to 2%, but not more than 7% - or you might get cramps and calf injuries. It is best to not run at an incline more than 2% for the entire duration of the run.
A common mistake beginners make is to overstride, which sacrifices good form, efficiency and essentially - burns extra energy. Keeping your stride quick and short helps minimise the impact transferred to your legs. To find out your cadence count how often you right foot hits the belt for 60 seconds. The ideal is around 85 right strides/minute.
The answer to how long your runs should be depends on why you run in the first place. If you are training for a race - you should follow a specific plan that over time increases duration and resistance to help you build stamina and muscle strength. A good plan to follow if you are a beginner is the Couch to 5K Plan.
If you simply want to lose weight - running for 30 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week can do wonders for your body. Just make sure you start with a comfortable amount of time - 10 to 20 minutes and build it up from there.
Running with a proper form is very important. Here are some do’s and dont’s:
- don’t look at your feet - it will cause you to lose balance and will strain your neck. Look straight ahead. It helps to focus on one point in the far distance.
- don’t slap your feet down - it will cause muscle strain. Land on your mid foot or the ball of your foot
- don’t let your arms hang all over the place. Keep them bent at 90 degrees angle - this helps with the natural rotation of the torso
Always! Stretching helps with muscles that feel tight. It also improves your flexibility over time. The stretching routine I prefer is by my girls Karena & Katrina from ToneItUp - check it out HERE.
Running puts a strain on muscles and can burn quite a lot of calories, so it is important that you take care of your body after a run. Grab a protein shake or light protein-rich meal (eggs, fish or quinoa - if you are vegan)— ideally within 30 minutes after your workout. My favourite smoothie to have after a running/ workout session is the Very Berry on - check out the recipe HERE.
- For best results and gradually improving strength and stamina you should go running at least 3 times a week
- Mix easy with intense days, so the body has time to heal and get stronger
- On rest and recovery days do yoga, go for a swim or ride a bike. Rest does not mean sit on the couch and binge-watch Netflix. :)
And there you have it - my 10 tips if you are just starting with running. I’d love to know if you have any tips or advice of your own - drop me a note in the comment section!
See you later!