If you feel a little spring in your step, it could be the warm weather giving you feelings of trying out some running. Running is an excellent way to get fit - it's good for your heart, lungs, muscles, and mood. If you’re starting to run for the first time, let's first remember to take some baby steps!
1. Pick a goal and training program: Having running goals is great to keep you focused and motivated. But it’s important to make goals which are safe for your health and fitness level. If you’ve not been running before, take it slow and give yourself manageable targets.Try not to give into the temptation of quickly increasing your mileage dramatically, even if you feel fit enough to do it, as doing this can increase your risk of injury. Instead, try to progress your training gradually. A general rule of thumb is no more than a 10% increase in frequency OR intensity of mileage per week for new runners.
2. Pick good footwear: If you do not already own a pair of good running shoes, we recommend heading to your local athletic shoe store to have some help finding the right pair for you. Try on several different pairs that are recommended, jog around the store, and let your feet decide what feels good! Older shoes (e.g. more than 6 months old) that still “look good” are still older shoes. They have likely lost the properties that made them “good” in the first place (like cushioning and stability). Time to go shopping!
3. Incorporate a warm up and cool down: Warming up can help your running feel easier as it helps to boost blood flow to your muscles and lubricate your joints. Doing some dynamic movements can help improve your range of motion, increase your heart rate and get your blood flowing which all helps to get your body ready for running. Some warm up ideas include jumping jacks, air squats, skipping and high knees. Cooling down allows your body to gradually return to a resting state. Just a few minutes of walking after your run can be helpful to let your heart rate return to normal. You may also want to include a few static stretches to improve your flexibility after your run, such as calf, hamstring, hip flexor, and quadricep stretches.
4. Ease into it with the run/walk method: The run/walk method is a great way to introduce your body to running. Walking at regular intervals helps to build your endurance as well as reducing your risk of injury. There are many great training programs online and apps on your phone to guide you through this method safely.
5. Respect recovery time: It’s important you allow enough time for your body to rest, recover and adapt to starting to run. Listen to your body and adjust your running schedule based on what it is telling you. We appreciate it can be really tempting to run frequently when you're making progress, but recovery time is crucial to your continued success. A helpful running schedule might be running two or three times a week and resting for 1-2 days in between.
If you are thinking about starting some running this season, that’s amazing! Chatting with your family doctor if fitness is brand new to you (and you have any pre-existing health conditions) might be a good place to start. In addition, your physiotherapist can help devise a training, stretching, and strengthening program to help you in your journey. Starting to run usually isn’t easy, but once you get into it the rewards are worth it!