Running 101 – A Beginner’s Guide
Running it seems simple enough right? Stand up, move your legs and just go as far as you can. WRONG!
While it looks easy, running involves preparation that requires gradual mileage advancement to safely become a healthy runner.
1. Plan a Running Schedule – It will not be enough if you only run once a week if you are really trying to get into it. Twenty minutes, 3 times a week is recommended.
2. Think about minutes, NOT miles – do not focus on the miles when starting out, focus on the length of time you run and intermittently plan longer slower runs and shorter quicker runs to progress your speed and power.
3. Invest in the right pair of shoes – this is one of the most, if not the most, important prep step. Go to your nearest sports store or running shoe store and get properly fitted for a pair of running shoes. Make sure to walk around in them before you buy to get the right fit. If needed ask your Physical Therapist for recommendations on types of running shoes and on custom or over the counter sole inserts for additional comfort.
4. Invest in appropriate workout gear – moisture-wicking fabric for tops and bottoms will keep you cooler and drier as your running increases.
5. Perfect your form – proper form is vital in running to prevent injury. keep your head straight, hands relaxed, shoulders back, hips stable, lean forward, don’t lift your knees too high, aim for a mid-foot strike and light steps, breathe deeply (inhale through nose and exhale out your mouth)
Healthy Ways to Incorporate Running into Your Exercise Routine
As mentioned above, running burns about 100 calories per mile. If losing weight is your top priority, then running is a great cardio calorie burning activity to add to your routine.
Take your time easing into the sport. Your legs will be sore, if you feel acute pain anywhere, stop running for a few days and let your legs recover. This will help to prevent injuries. As Physical therapists we recommend Foam Rolling before and after each run – purchase a foam roller from us next time you visit!
Learn the difference between soreness and fatigue. This is a major factor in building your running routine. Your Physical Therapist can help explain the difference.
Cross-training can help. Swimming, biking or total body workouts are great activities that will not wear out your running muscles.
STRETCH! Pre and post run stretching is important for overall skeletal health. Warm up your muscles with some easy hamstring/calf/quad/hip stretches and finish off any run with stretching to break up any tightness that may occur after your run.
Here are some great key exercises we at IPT recommend when running:
Use a Foam Roller – pre and post run this is great to do on your calves and quads. Purchase a foam roller from us during your next visit!
Use a lacrosse ball or similar type of ball for IT band discomfort– The TFL (tensor fascia latae) is the muscle attached to your IT band which is really where the discomfort lies. Using a lacrosse ball you can dig into the muscle and release the tension
Stretch your Hip Flexors with Lunges– This is where a lot of tension lies for runners. Your hip flexors act as a rubber band to spring your legs forward and back. Doing front, side and rotating lunges will warm up your hip flexors and legs and mobility
Squat – doing squats will work your quads, glutes and hamstrings. This will build a strong foundation for your running
The American Physical Therapy Association has a great guidebook on training, racing and building a strong running regime, written and approved by Physical Therapists worldwide. For more information on running and some helpful tips/tricks read HERE and reach out to your local Physical Therapist.