More often than not, the first few steps are the most difficult ones for a beginner runner, making a meter feel like a mile. Although running seems like such a primal ability and something we’ve been done for thousands of years, you’ll undoubtedly find it infinitely more comfortable with a solid plan in place to help you improve your form and technique.
Getting started – how to prepare
Before you even step out of the door, it’s essential to know exactly how you intend to run and why you are writing up a running regime. If your goals are to prepare for a marathon, you’ll have vastly different plans than to someone looking to get back in shape after an injury, even though you’ll be doing essentially the same thing.
As a runner, you’ll need to pick up a few pieces of equipment to keep you comfortable on your journeys. A pair of well-fitting running shoes and gloves are more than worth the investment, and the years you’ll get out of them are definitely worth the initial outlay. Be sure to research these extensively, as you’ll hopefully be using them very often.
To write up your actual plan of action, the first step is recognizing not only your goals but your current level of ability too. It may seem tempting to run as much as possible. First, your body will thank you for the rest – especially if you haven’t done much running beforehand.
The best way to improve your running times is to increase the workload and rest thoroughly progressively. For example, if you wanted to run a mile but could only run 100 meters, you’d run 100 twice a day for the first week, 150-200 the second, and so on. Continually challenging yourself and sticking to the routine are the two keys to success.
Checklist before running
Before every run, it’s critically important that you warm up and ensure that you have a planned route that will allow you to run freely and safely. Although incidents are rare, runners with loud music in their ears running along back roads at night can be uncomfortably vulnerable.
To plan and track your route, you have three options.
1. Using a smartphone application to track your run using GPS satellites
2. Logging in to a website such a Google Maps and using that to plan your run
3. An old fashioned map and pen to figure out the best route None of the options are any better than the other in actuality, so it’s easiest to pick the one that you prefer and will be able to access the most frequently.
Warming up/down properly and injury prevention
After plotting a route to run along, your next step is to warm up thoroughly. It might seem like a waste of time, but countless runners with torn muscles would beg to differ there. A good warm-up should take no longer than about 10 minutes, and needs to include both stretching and low-intensity movement to prepare the body for an incoming work out.
Just as the warm-up is crucial, cooling down properly and stretching your muscles out is the one thing you’ll regret after months on the sidelines with an injury. It should take roughly as long as the warm-up and focus heavily on stretching and deep breathing.
Running can be a strict, hard regime to keep up with over the winter months. Making sure you have an excellent pair of running gloves will keep your fingers toasty during those long cold runs on a January or a February evening. Make sure you take this advice and keep up running to stay trim and at the top of your game.