Running has always had a loyal following, but do you know when this form of exercise saw its biggest boom in popularity?
April 2020, right after the global pandemic quarantine. And it has not slowed down as its popularity remains at an all-time high!
Desperate to stay active and avoid boredom, Google searches exploded with ways to exercise at home. Running is one of the best ways to stay healthy, avoid expenses, and get the recommended levels of vitamin D from sunlight.
If you’re new to the running scene and want to dive in with both feet, you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of information that’s out there for new runners. We want to make it easier for you. Here are the best tips for beginning runners on how to start running.
Suit Up: Get What You Need
Let’s start with what you’re wearing.
Sure, you could run in old sweatpants and sneakers, but we wouldn’t recommend it. There’s a reason companies spend millions of dollars on product research; they want to make sure that what they are selling you can actually improve your performance, enhance your comfort, and protect you from an injury.
You don’t have to get the latest space age running gear, but we definitely recommend suiting up with the basics:
Check the Weather: No one wants to run in heavy sweats in July and no one enjoys jogging in shorts in February. Match weather-appropriate attire to your comfort level. Today’s apparel is made with advanced fabrics that take temperature into account and provide the right level of warmth or cooling when needed.
Protect Your Feet: When it comes to running, we go by what the old adage: Drink your water and take care of your feet. Outside of wearing a fresh pair for each run, you want to make sure you’re wearing the proper type of socks. We recommend compression socks because studies show that these socks increase blood flow, improve performance, and support post-run recovery.
You could also opt to pair your favorite run socks with compression calf sleeves to gain the same benefits.
A good solid pair of running shoes rounds out your foot protection. Remember that most running shoes need replacement sooner than you might think. Check with your local running store or shoe manufacturer for guidelines.
Knee Braces: If you have a prior knee injury or surgery, you might want to consider a knee brace. Also called a compression brace, it applies pressure to the connective tissue, helping to reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of aggravating the area. Braces are also available for ankles if that’s where you have pain.
Learn How to Run with Good Form
Once you suit up in your new running gear, take a few minutes to warm up with basic in-place calisthenics and mobility exercises like knee raises and butt kicks, then stretch.
Before you start to run a few miles, we want you to practice your form. Too many running injuries are the result of poor form and running posture. The proper running form should look like this:
Gaze: Look directly ahead while you’re running. Don’t crook your neck down and look at the ground, which might be your first instinct.
Shoulders: Pull your shoulders back. Imagine you’re trying to hold an egg between your shoulder blades.
Arms: Most runners keep their arms at a 90-degree angle, but some find that there isn’t as much strain on their neck and shoulders when they let them hang a bit more. In any case, don’t put them in the air or straight down. Experiment with different angles to see which you prefer.
Spine: Keep your spine extended; do not hunch over.
Hips: As you run, you should have a slight forward lean. You don’t want to have an exaggerated lean forward, but you shouldn’t be completely vertical either.
Here’s a video that we found to help you visualize what proper running form looks like.
Set Goals and Have a Plan
You’ve got the cool running outfit and you’ve mastered your running form, now it’s time to set some goals.
We know you want to get out the door and hit the pavement but it’s important to think about what you want to achieve with running. For example:
- Is this just a new form of cardio for you until the gym opens back up?
- Do you want to train for a race like a 5k?
- Are you using running to complement other fitness goals such as weight loss?
Think about what your overall goal is with running and consider how important it is that you need to get better at it. How far do you need to run every workout to feel like you’re making progress?
Once you know where your target is, you can create a plan and timeline to get there. This means that you’ll want to incrementally increase the distance, time, or incline of your runs. But do so responsibly and realistically. Don’t expect yourself to go from running one mile to a marathon in a week.
Make a Running Schedule
Continuing with the point above, consider how often you need to run in order to accomplish your goal. Now, take a look at your schedule and look to see where running can fit. Find an ideal timeslot in your day when you can fully dedicate yourself to a jog or run.
If you’re training for an event like a 10k (6.2 miles), for example, you’ll want to run several times per week, adding more distance every week or every other week. The goal would be to run more than your goal distance. In the case of 10k run, you’ll want to train yourself to run 7 or 8 miles. That way, when race day arrives, you’re more than prepared to accomplish your goal.
We recommend gathering information about training from trusted running websites and if possible, consulting a running coach to help you dial in a specific plan for your goals.
Consider Sports Recovery Nutrition
Whether you’re an athlete, a weightlifter, or a runner, the real growth happens after the workout in the kitchen.
Good nutrition is the fuel your body needs to perform and recover, especially during long or sprint-based runs. Here are a few simple eating tips to consider adopting:
Upgrade Your Diet: We highly recommend meeting with a nutritionist but until you can do that, there should be a big focus on lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. For example, a grilled chicken breast, brown rice, and a salad with olive oil as a dressing.
Consider Supplements: Protein contains the building blocks of muscle tissue and the easiest form of extra protein is a supplement. One scoop of protein powder after a workout can do wonders. Creatine and glutamine have also been shown to support intra-workout performance as well as post-workout recovery.
Water and Electrolytes: Sure, you know water is important, but do you know what type of water you should be drinking? The kind with plenty of electrolytes such as a sugar-free sports drinks. Electrolytes are essential for proper muscle performance and recovery. When you drink bottled water without electrolytes, you’re flushing out essential minerals from your muscles.
Find a Running Buddy
A running buddy is a great form of accountability. Studies show that you’re more likely to accomplish a goal when you have someone chasing after the same thing with you. Find a run buddy (taking into account social distancing guidelines, of course) that you can run with or share your progress with in order to reach your goals and maintain your fitness.
Don’t Give Up
Most importantly, do not give up on running. You’re going to fall off the horse (we all do) but don’t give up.
Dust yourself off, learn from the mistake, then get up and continue running. If you’re having a moment where you don’t want to run, remind yourself why you started then give yourself permission to do just five minutes. Often, you’ll find that once you start, you finish the original workout.
PRO Tip: Always keep a fresh pair of socks in your running shoes by the door. Just seeing them ready to go can be enough to motivate you to get going!
At PRO Compression, we design our socks with runners of all kinds in mind. We design our socks to be comfortable while still supporting key muscles and joints to help you run longer and recover faster.
Runner Letti Uribe is a big believer in compression socks for running. “I purchased my first pair for recovery and have never looked back. They have eliminated shin splints and reduced muscle fatigue.”
Uribe has some advice for beginning runners. “Some days will be better than others – and that’s okay. Run your own pace and remember to always have fun. Smile!”