Did you catch the Chicago Marathon this past weekend?! Many gathered to watch the 37,000 runners on Sunday's race--and it may have inspired you to start running as well! While running is an excellent form of cardio, you need to be careful with how you begin training so that you don't unintentionally harm your body. Here are five tips to get you started on becoming a "runner":
1. Don't do too much to soon! Running is a very high-impact activity and if you dive into running too quickly, it can lead to injury. Start with a 20 minute run a few times per week and build your routine slowly--no more than 10% every two weeks.
2. Watch your speed--remember, this is a marathon, not a race...when new runners try to outpace their bodies, they can ignore some warning signs telling them to slow down. Maybe your spouse runs, or your friend--don't try to match their pace right away--stick to a personal plan, and your own speed--you'll catch up over time once your body builds the necessary muscles.
3. Invest in reliable shoes. Running shoes are a crucial investment for anyone in training; you need a pair that will support your feet and complement your stride. Try going to a specialty running store to get your stride analyzed (this is free!) and invest in a nice pair that will offer support to your feet.
4.Pair running with other types of exercise. Try to mix up your workout with other activities--such as cycling, swimming, Pilates, etc. This will help keep your running goals fresh (and not monotonous), while also training other muscles that may not be in use as much during a run. This includes strength training and stretching! The more you stretch and tone your muscles, the easier it is to lose weight and accomplish those longer endurance runs.
5. Listen to your body. New runners will start to feel aches and pains in their bodies as new muscles are growing and remaining active--this is normal. Resting for a few days and working through minor aches and pains will help your body adjust to this new regimen. However, if you sense you have sustained an injury, do not attempt to 'power through it'--you'll want to get regular physicals if you sense something abnormal in your body.
It may take months--or even years--before running feels completely natural to the point where you're able to run over 3 miles without stopping--and that's okay! Everyone moves at their own pace, and Rome wasn't built in a day! If you're inspired to start running, and you set your mind to it--you'll be able to accomplish the goals you set.