The days are getting longer and the sun is shining. This probably means that you want to get out of the stuffy gym and off of the stationary machines to enjoy an unlimited range of motion. How would you do this? You might think that it’s time to introduce running to your routine.
Everyone does it, so how hard can it be? The answer is actually very hard. Beginners often make mistakes when running and quickly get injured. Learn how to avoid injuries while adding running to your routine!
Running For Beginners
The first rule of running is don’t skip out on stretches. It may seem easy to neglect stretching when using an elliptical or stationary bike in the gym, but running puts more of an impact on your muscles and tendons than they’re used to. By stretching you’ll help prepare your muscles for what’s coming. Plus, if your muscles and ligaments are kept too tight then can become knotted up, strained, and start to hurt.
Either take a brisk 5 to 10-minute walk to stretch before your run and make sure you hold each position for at least 30 seconds. When you stretch after your run take a 5 to 10-minute cool down. When you run you’ll create micro tears in your muscles as they get stronger and stretching while your muscles are warm can harm those tears.
Invest in a foam roller. They will help you quickly and easily relieve tight muscles. Also, don’t only stretch on the days when you work out, a little stretching is great every day! Trust us, your muscles will thank you.
Don’t start too fast. People tend to think that running is easy and their bodies can handle sprint work immediately to get in shape. This isn’t the case. Your ligaments, muscles, and tendons need to become stronger so that they take the impact of running instead of your bones.
It’s perfectly ok to walk. In fact, beginners should take frequent walking breaks in between jogging to prevent huffing and puffing like crazy and running out of energy. If you push yourself too hard at first then you could surpass your limits and become injured.
At first take it easy, look for flat soft surfaces to run on. Try grass at a park, or a local track. Heck, you could even start out on a treadmill at the gym. Sprinting, running up and down hills, and speedwork should be avoided until you slowly build up strength, which takes a little time.
Don’t stress yourself out with race training or time goals at first. Those goals may cause you to freak out and obsessively train too hard, leading to injuries.
Cross training with ellipticals, bikes, and swimming is a good way to strengthen your body without stressing it out. Also, strength training with yoga or weightlifting is a great way to build up your muscles.
Never ignore pain. While it’s true that running hurts, it shouldn’t be due to physical pain. If something hurts, stop and walk. If the pain subsides you can try running again, if it does then your run is done for the day.
You need to take days off between your runs so your muscles and joints can recover. Starting to run puts a lot of stress on your body at first, so it needs time to respond to that stress to heal and get stronger.
For aches and pains, RICE is your best friend. Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. Take a few days off to ice your legs, wrap them, and prop your feet up to heal minor injuries before they become major ones. If that technique doesn’t help the pain contact a doctor.
Also, you can’t just jump back into your difficult training routine after an injury. Build back up to it slowly to avoid getting the same injury again. This may involve taking a break to do some cross training.
Ask people everything. While you should start off in your old shoes that your body knows at first, when you get new shoes ask the people in the store if you have the right fit.
Look into a finding a running coach to hire to tell you how to get started and to evaluate your posture. You want your back to be straight with your shoulders back to avoid leaning forward and putting too much pressure on your knees.
You can even take a running test in your local running store to look at your posture and to see what shoes you need.
At the gym, there are always a group of runners who love to talk. Ask them about injury prevention, how to stretch, and more. If you’ve been bitten by the running bug they’ll be more excited to share everything they know.
Get Out There And Run
Running can be a rewarding exercise that burns calories and builds lean muscle. Plus, it prevents you from being stuck in the gym running in place. However, doing too much too fast can cause major injuries that can throw off your workout routine altogether. Be cautious and patient to slowly build up your routine.
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