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Tips for Beginning Runners
Gliding along the trail like a deer, your eyes focus straight ahead and the wind rushes through your hair as you effortlessly stride over hill and dale.
Yeh, the running experience can be blissful, spritual or poetic, but it's an unfortunate fact that the majority of new runners find it boring, painful, or even the cause of an injury, causing them to forsake running forever.
However, taking the time to plan a sensible, healthy routine can protect your body and mind and set you up for a totally enjoyable running experience, whether you run for health, recreation, or to accomplish a goal such as finishing a marathon.
#1-GET READY TO GO
Most important is the necessity of investing in a good pair of properly fitting running shoes. Not doing this will put you at an increased risk of discomfort, pain or even serious injury. Also, a good pair of running shoes gives you more cushion and support, which will make running easier than if you are wearing generic sneakers or shoes developed for another sport.
Hydration is also important for running. Drinking sufficient fluids (primarily water) will help you complete your scheduled run and keep your body in prime condition.
It is very helpful to keep a log of your distance and time. Knowing what you've done in the past can help to motivate you to improve, or let you know it's ok to back off a little. Optionally, You might also log any discomfort or feelings about the run, what you ate that day, how you slept the night before and after, and any thing else that affects or is affected by running.
#2-LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
A big no-no is running on concrete sidewalks. Avoid it if at all possible. These are harder than asphalt, therefore transmitting much more stress to your feet and legs, which can add up over time and cause injury. Sidewalks are also frequently cracked and crooked, offering more opportunity to trip.
Running on the track is much better for your body, but unless you're super motivated, it certainly can be boring. When running on a track it's a good idea to have a partner to run with and perhaps engage in a little friendly competition with.
Smooth dirt trails are usually your best option, along with grass, although grass surfaces can be very uneven - so be careful there. If there's a local running store, that's a great place to ask for recommendations on good running routes.
#3-TOP TRAINING TECHNIQUES
Some runners get addicted to long slow distance runs. However, including other types of workouts such as interval training and speed training can pay great dividends, once you're past the rank beginner stage. Here are a few more suggestions to get you started.
Always begin with a warm up walk. This gets the muscles ready to move. At the beginning, it's fine to take a walk break every ten minutes to rehydrate and extend your total workout time.
Breathe. You should be able to carry on a conversation while running, unless you are doing interval or speed work, which is really not appropriate at the very beginning. If you are gasping for breath, back off a little. You will build endurance with time, allowing you to go faster with less effort. It is better to start out easy and build up slowly, as opposed to wearing yourself out and quitting before you really get going.
#FINISH IT UP RIGHT
Walk for at least a minute after ending your run to allow your heartbeat to return to a more normal range. Just stopping and standing still can be dangerous, as your blood pressure could rapidly drop, causing dizziness or fainting. Also, always try to do some gentle stretching while still warm. This is when the muscles are most responsive to stretching, and this will help keep the muscles from becoming tight.
If you feel any discomfort in your shins, knees, ankles, or anywhere else, apply ice packs, which will reduce inflammation and help make sure you're feeling good for your next scheduled run.
Take these tips to heart, take care of your body, and enjoy your running time. You may even find that you enjoy the mental benefits of running just as much as the physical ones!
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