Thursday, April 28, 2016

How to Start Running

Okay, silly title, but if you're new to cardio or exercise in general it's important to start the right way. The last thing you want is to attempt a workout intensity far beyond your body's capability and end up crashing and burning.

Some of us are inherently runners. Our walking pace is always twice as fast as everyone else around us. We enjoy the outdoors and time with our thoughts, and we always feel the drive to get out there and keep going. I am definitely that girl. If you want to start running, make sure it's because you want to run. Don't run because you think it'll help you lose weight quickly (which it might), or because you think this is the best way to get into shape (which it might not be - everyone is different).

So the first thing you need to start running is the drive to want to run. And once you get going, you must enjoy it. If you're miserable and hating yourself as your forcing your legs to catch you and pounding them on the pavement, you're likely going to cause your body more stress than actual benefit.

Next you'll need your "gear":

1) Running Shoes: a really good pair of running shoes will make all the difference! This is one of those expenses you just have to plan for. Go to a speciality running store and get yourself assessed for your running feet needs, specifically cushioning and stability. Make sure to run around the store and get a feel for the shoe. It must be comfortable and supportive.

Your running shoes should be replaced about every 800 kilometres or 6 months. When they stop feeling comfortable, supportive or when you start noticing more soreness or injuries, it's time to try on a new pair!

2) Sports bra (for the ladies): No matter your chest size, having a properly fitted sports bra is a must. Do your own version of the "bounce test" and make sure you're comfortable.

3) Run wear: This can be anything you're comfortable moving in. Summer's are easy, but I recommend shorts with liners or elastic grips to prevent them from riding up. In the winter and colder days, layer up or wear long socks

4) Road ID bracelet: If you're hitting the trails or running solo, a Road ID bracelet is just a smart move. It's your "in case of emergency" - should something happen to you, you can be identified, have any allergies listed, and you can leave an "in case of emergency" phone number since most of us have password-protected cell phones. Visit

Important Tips for running:

  • Start low (distance) and slow. Pace yourself and/or work in run/walk intervals. Take note of your breathing and your heart rate. If you can't catch your breath, you're going too fast. Slow it down, bring the heart rate down, catch your breath and then try starting again. 
  • Focus on landing mid-foot to the balls of the feet. Avoid heel-strikes (when your heel hits the ground first) as it can increase the impact that you're taking and may cause you to be more prone to injuries. 
  • Be well hydrated all day long! Imagine your muscles are like meat. If you're dehydrated, your muscles turn into beef jerky - all stiff and more "brittle" so-to-speak. You want to stay well hydrated so your muscles are limber and have full mobility. 
  • Have a post run plan: A protein shake or small meal with protein and some carbohydrates will help your muscles to repair themselves after the "stress" of exercise. 
  • Always start with a warm up (brisk walk or similar) and always end with a really good stretching routine. A modified Hatha Yoga routine to open the hips and stretch the hamstrings and the quads will be very important to prevent soreness and injury. 
    • Examples of poses include: runner's lunge, warrior I and II, right-angle pose, triangle pose, straight leg stretch, and Royal dancer. 
    • You can also foam roll after your run, like a post-run deep massage. Roll all surfaces of the legs and the glutes (buttocks). 
Don't forget to set a goal! When you reach your goal it makes running that much more triumphant and fills you with confidence. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish!