Beginner's Guide to Running

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Now that it’s September, the signs of fall are on its way— red, yellow, and brown leaves, trips to apple orchards, and cooler weather. Cooler weather means better running weather, a time for beginner runners to lace up their sneakers. Running brings a bevy of benefits-- it’s good for the heart, good for the brain, and good for mental health. But running regularly can be intimidating to many people; if you’ve always wanted to run but don’t know where to start, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you get started.

Figure Out the “Why”
We all have different reasons for running— it might be to improve your health, shed some pounds, or maintain the energy to play with your kids. Understanding why you want to start running and reminding yourself of them when challenges will help you stick to your goals.

Set Goals
Setting goals will help keep yourself accountable. We recommend setting two types of goals; first, a larger, more challenging goal, such as a running a 5K. Then set short-term, achievable goals that help you achieve your bigger one-- for example, completing half a mile without stopping to walk. You can stay positive and motivated by keeping track of your progress towards a larger goal.

Pencil It In
Think of your runs as appointments to yourself, and put them in your calendar. Treat it like any other commitment in your life and get out there and run. If you can’t make a run, make sure to have a back up plan, such as incorporating a short high-intensity interval (HIIT) workout to maintain your fitness levels and strengthen your running muscles.

Gear Up
Make sure you have the right gear-- visit your speciality running shop and talk to employees to figure out which sneaker fits you best. If there’s none around you, it’s okay to use any pair of comfortable sneakers; what’s important is to start moving! If you enjoy running along to your favorite jams, make sure to wear clothing or equipment that secures your phone and headphones.

Start Slow
Consult a beginner’s running program to help you get started; a program that starts you off with intervals of running and walking might be best. We recommend running more than 2-3 times a week. Through frequent use, the body creates muscle memory, and refines and strengthens its running biomechanics. It’s important to avoid pushing yourself too intensely during runs, as you can be more susceptible to injury.

If you start feeling pain, reduce the length or intensity of your runs, and consider taking a few rest days between runs.

Proper Form
Make sure to look ahead, land on the midfoot, keep the hands loose and relaxed at the waist, arms at the side, shoulders relaxed, posture straight, stride low to the ground, and breathe from the diaphragm, not your chest.

Stretch
Try stretching and foam-rolling before bed to reduce muscle stiffness and soreness caused by running. It’ll keep you loose, limber, and comfortable for your next run.

Running shouldn’t seem impossible or scary; we want it to be fun for everyone. Follow these tips to stay committed to your first runs and enjoy your new-found hobby. Stay informed with regular research and reading on running. Don’t forget to track your progress to see how far you’ve come!

Yooyeon Shim