Running is an amazing yet simple workout that can improve multiple areas of your life from your health to your relationships. Before starting on your new running endeavor, you should know a few things to make your workout more successful. To make it as easy as possible for you, this article will share some great running tips to help the beginner all the way to the avid runner.
11 Benefits of Running
As you start running or completing other exercise, you will notice many benefits in your life. Each person’s benefits may show up differently depending on their lives, but all of the benefits are due to the following:
- Improves your physical health
How does running improve your physical health? Well, Running increases bone mass, which prevents bone loss and strengthens your joints. It gets your heart pumping which sends blood and oxygen through your body. It decreases your risk of obesity and heart disease, and it reduces your risk of cancer. It has also been proven to add years to people’s lives- even those who already have those diseases.
- Improves your mental health
This occurs in many ways. The first is through the release of endorphins, otherwise known as the happy hormone. It is hard to be depressed with a happy hormone roaming inside of you. Second, there is just something about a workout that makes you feel good about yourself. Even a five to ten minute workout can have you feeling stronger and accomplished. Last, it has been shown that older adults who exercise have better brain function than those who do not.
- Relieves stress
Why going for a run reduces stress? The answer is running can reduce activity in your frontal cortex, which can help you relax and overcome stress. In fact, those that run on a regular basis not only relieve stress while running, but they have also been found to cope with stressful and anxiety inducing situations more calmly than those who do not.
- Boosts your confidence
How does running boost your confidence? When you run, your body starts changing. You become stronger, feel better physically, and you might lose some inches around your core. Add that to the release of endorphins, you will find yourself feeling more confident.
- You might shed some pounds
Can you lose belly fat by running? Well, Weight loss can come in different time frames. When you first begin running, you will probably notice yourself losing a few pounds. When you build up to a steady rate for longer run, you will most likely lose some more weight, but then it will seem to plateau. When that happens, you can begin interval training that will help you lose fat and build muscle.
- Improves your sleep
Again, running helps reduce stress and anxiety- two things that keep millions from getting a good night’s rest. There is also the fact that using the energy it takes to run can help you to sleep longer amounts of time- or help regulate your sleep cycle. Lastly, it can increase the amount of deep, restorative sleep you get, which has its own benefits including healthier immune system and better cardiac health.
- Increases your productivity
Running is pushing blood through your body, which reduces lethargy and fatigue throughout the day. In addition to that, though, the blood and oxygen going to your brain improves your brain health and function, helping you to think much more clearly. Lastly, as running also reduces stress, you can think more clearly.
- Improves core and leg strength and stability
Body movement revolves around your core- that is just how it is. To function well physically, you need a strong core. The beauty is that as running is a full body workout, your core- and your legs- get an amazing workout. They get stronger which helps you in every other physical area.
- Convenience and Cost
Two of the best things about running are the convenience and the low cost. You can run almost anywhere. And all you really need are shoes and a surface to run on. You can put your tennis on and run up and down your street, run laps around your yard, run on a treadmill, or anywhere else you have access to. You do not need to buy exercise machines, weights, workout DVDs, or gym membership. Running is simple, convenient, a cheap- a great combination for anyone.
- Improves Skin
Running improves circulation, which has plenty of physical benefits. As blood carries oxygen through your body, it pushes that oxygen and other nutrients to your organs, including the skin. The oxygen then carries toxins away, so it assists in flush out the cells in your skin. Additionally, as stated above, running reduces stress, and a reduction in stress helps reduce acne, eczema, and other skin issues.
- Improves Lung Capacity
Exercise has the ability to improve your lung capacity. Aerobic exercises, such as running, improves endurance and you find yourself breathless much less often. Also, thanks to pushing more oxygen through your lungs, they become stronger.
**Important Note: When you first begin your workout, you will likely find yourself a little more tired because you are using more energy than normal. Also, be sure that you speak with your doctor if you have any health issues or concerns before starting any exercise program.**
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People who workout on a regular basis will need to eat more of certain food types than others. Keep in mind, though, that if you eat until your full, you will not lose weight. If your goal is to lose weight, you need to take in less calories than you work off. Bottom line: eat healthier and listen to your body, but be mindful so you do not overdo it. Below are some helpful nutrition tips:
- Complex carbs
Complex carbohydrates provide a more steady amount of fuel to your body as opposed to quick sugar rushes. As you begin running on a consistent basis, you will need longer lasting fuel to keep you going during your runs. Some examples are vegetables, whole grains, potatoes, and breads.
Protein is what helps your muscles and tendons recuperate after a run. Consuming tofu, chicken, eggs, fish, and nuts can help your muscles repair more quickly. If you are hoping to lose weight, it is important to also choose low fat proteins.
- Glucose Drinks
If you take in some form of glucose within fifteen minutes of completing your run, they will give your muscles a bit of a repair boost.
Yes, you should take in fats but healthy fats, or monounsaturated fats, are best. Use canola oil or olive oil instead of vegetable oil. Eat avocados as a snack. Try to stay away from anything deep fried, or at least minimize your intake of fried foods.
When you workout, you sweat. When you sweat, you have to replenish the water in your body. The good news is that it does not have to be just plain water. Things like fruit juices and sports drinks are fluids. However, caffeine and alcohol dehydrate you, so minimize your intake of these.
- Balanced Meals
A good balanced meal will be something along the lines of 20% protein, 20% fats (monounsaturated, as much as possible, and 60% complex carbs. Pick a few different healthy food types that you enjoy and work with those. You can expand your menu as time goes on.
- Vitamins and Minerals
The more active a person, the more they need to replenish their bodies. If you eat a healthy, balanced meal, you should naturally get most of the vitamins and minerals you need. You might also consider a bottled vitamin, though these are no replacement for proper nutrition. Use them with a healthy and balanced diet.
- Healthy Snacks
Do not ignore your need for snacks. You will be hungrier than usual and your body will need to be replenished more often. This does not mean it is okay to grab a honey bun from the vending machine at work, though. Choose snacks such as fresh fruits, smoothies, eggs, yogurt, or nuts. It is also important to note that often, when we think we are hungry, it is actually just thirst. Before jumping to a snack, drink something and wait a few moments. If you find you are still hungry, then you can eat something.
- Planning Your Meals
Meal planning is important for anyone, including runners. Many people fall off the health food bandwagon because they find themselves starving with a fast food joint down the road. If you plan your meals and snacks ahead of time, you do not have to think about what you are going to eat when your stomach is growling because you already know.
It also gives you the chance to wake up every morning and do any prep work you can for the day. Some find it easier to prep food and snacks once a week, then simply freeze them. At that point, all they need to do is take the food out and heat it up. Lastly, do not forget to plan your snacks. And to help you out a bit more there, make your healthy snacks the most accessible things to you. Keep fruit on the counter or in the front of the fridge. Keep granola bars in your purse, briefcase, or desk drawers. If those are the easiest things to get, you will have a much higher chance of eating them.
Choose your running location
One of the great things about running is the ability to do it pretty much anywhere. Ask around for some suggestions on good places to run. These might be places that are just exceptionally beautiful, easy terrain for beginners, safer than others, and so on. What types of places would you like to run?
- Know the Different Running Surfaces
An important step in choosing running locations is to understand running surfaces. The following are five basic types you will see:
Yes, the sidewalks and street areas. These provide a pretty level run so they reduce the chances of hurting or twisting your ankles. However, the hard surface can put some strain on your joints. This might be a good for beginners and those who do not run often, but others should probably avoid this type of surface when possible.
- Forest/Park/Soft Floors
Obviously, soft running surfaces such as these provide some extra cushioning, which means less impact on the joints. However, if you are a naturally clumsy person- like my oldest son: this is not a good surface for you. There are too many natural things, such as rocks and roots, on these floors for someone who is already prone to accidents.
- Sandy Terrains
If you have ever walked on the beach, you know the workout it puts your legs through. Sandy running surfaces are great for building and toning muscles, especially since you have to work harder to lift your feet. And running along a beach can provide even greater peace. On the downside, it can overwork your calf muscles, so running on sandy surfaces too often could leave you with an uneven body tone.
Tartan is an all-weather track that is a little springy. The upside: it is intended for running so most of the stress on the body that harder surfaces provide will not be a problem. The downsides are that it may be difficult to find, unless your local gym provides one, and it can put stress on your Achilles tendon.
Treadmills often provide a great workout with great cushioning. However, in some ways you have to overcompensate because the belt is moving, so you have to worry about staying upright more than most other surfaces.
- Pick a few locations for variety
To limit the impact that any of these surface have on your body, you can mix up your routine. Choose a few different locations and mix it up. Not only does this keep the workout itself interesting, but you are not running on one surface type too much
Apparel Tips- Gear Up
Though it is not necessary if you do not have the funds, having the right gear can assist in your workout and be a little encouraging. The following are just some of the apparel you should consider:
Types of running shoes
Running shoes are important. They support your feet and the rest of your body during this workout. If you can, be sure to invest in a good pair. The most common running shoe types are listed here:
- Lightweight Shoes
Lightweight shoes are intended for people who do a lot of speed and interval training. They have less foam and cushioning than other running shoes so that the runner has a good feel for the ground. However, running in shoes without good cushion and support will bring its own pain and discomfort.
- Trail Shoes
Trail shoes, or trail runners, are kind of like a combination of hiking shoes and regular tennis shoes. They are built to handle trail terrain, such as dirt, rocks, and mud by providing more traction and sticky rubbers. They also offer extra protection around the ankles.
- Stability Shoes
These shoes are intended to help stabilize those with excessive pronation, or who need additional arch and ankle support. They help the wearer walk or run without too much inward rolling or unnatural foot issues.
- Motion Control Shoes
Motion control shoes are designed for those with low arches and excessive over-pronation. They are made wider to prevent too much movement.
- Cushioning Shoes
Cushioned shoes are pretty much what they say- they provide a good amount of cushion. Unfortunately, they do not provide much by way of support.
Choosing the Right Shoes
Sometimes, nothing but trial and error can help you determine the type of shoes you need, but there are a few tips you can use.
- Know Your Foot Type
First and foremost, what is your foot type? If your regular shoes wear down evenly, you most likely have normal pronation and a neutral arch. If there is more wear on the inside, you have a low arch and overpronation. If the outer sole is worn down more, you have a high arch and you under pronate.
- Best tips for trying on shoes
It is best to try on shoes at the end of the day because your foot has been used and any swelling your foot might do would have occurred by that time. Be sure to when any braces, wraps, socks, or anything else you will be wearing on your feet while running. Walk around the shoe store- jogging a little is even better. You want to know what this shoe will feel like when you are actually using it, not what it feels like on the shelf.
- Know When to Replace Your Shoes
The simplest way to know when to replace your shoes is when you no longer feel the comfort or support you once did while running. To make plans, though, a good rule of thumb is about every 500 miles.
Choose the Right Clothing
- Get some socks made specifically for running as they are intended to prevent blisters.
- There are clothes built specifically for running, including moisture-wicking clothing to reduce chafing, and those intended for cold weather that will keep you warm and dry. It is best to choose these running specific clothing items, if you can. If not, clothing made from nylon, wool, or polyester is best.
- Ladies, don’t forget the sports bras. They are designed with more support than regular bras that prevent discomfort and other trouble from high- impact activities. When choosing one, try it on, run or jog, or even jump a little to make sure that you choose one with enough support. Also, you want them to fit but not be too tight.
- You might find that compression socks and other compression gear help aid in the recovery process. Also, find clothing with pockets that will hold your phone and keys close to your body. Having them flopping around can be distracting and uncomfortable.
Additional items you might find handy include a running belt that holds important items while you are running, i.e. ID, money, and keys. Some type of sports watch can be great for keeping up with your steps, using GPS, track your heart rate, and more. Sunscreen and sunglasses or sun visors are often used. There are tons of running accessories you can choose from, but they are not necessary. Do not let the lack of these items keep you from working out. You can always build up your running gear as time goes on.
You should always do your best to protect yourself on a run. Here are a few safety tips:
- Stay Hydrated with Small Sips
A lot of people make themselves sick by drinking too much water while working out. You need to stay hydrated but do so with small sips, not huge gulps. Take it slow.
- Tell someone where you are going
It is extremely important that someone knows where you are going. If you fall and hurt yourself, pass out, or- even worse- get kidnapped or attacked, someone needs to know where to start looking for you. Tell them where you are going and how long you plan to be gone. When you arrive back home, give them a call so they know not to send in the rescue squad. Having this habit will also let them know when they should worry. If you normally call them within a specific time frame and suddenly do not, they will know that something is going on.
- Wear reflective gear
Be sure you have a couple of reflective items on, especially if you run at night. Drivers need to be able to see you to avoid hitting you.
- Protect your skin
Putting on a little sunscreen will help protect your skin long term.
Take a little care before leaving for your run:
Be sure you stretch to reduce the risk of injury during your workout.
- Follow the 2 hour rule
Do not eat anything solid for at least two hours prior to your workout. This will help prevent painful cramp.
Tips for Your Running Workout
- Understand that running is a full body workout
Running is not just a cardio workout or a workout for your legs. You will engage your entire body, especially your core. Do not be surprised when things ache that you had no idea running worked.
- Mix up your routine
Running is great but doing it the same way in the same place every time can get very boring. Above, I mentioned switching up the places you run. You might also consider completing other types of workouts as well.
Key Running Tips for Beginners Runner
If you are new to running, there are some things you need to know and some guidelines you should follow.
- Start Slow- Don’t push too hard too fast
Do not try to do so much in one day that you cannot move for a week. If your body is not used to this type of workout, you need to start very slow and move your way up from there. Otherwise, you might find yourself injured and too discouraged to run again.
- Run one, rest one
A good rule of thumb is to run one day, then rest one day. When first starting, you might even run one day, then rest two. After a week or so, you can try to run one, rest one.
- Follow the 2 minute rule
You are not going to be able to run five straight miles if you have not been running and training for that. Instead, start with the two minute rule: walk two minutes, then jog two minutes.
- Walking breaks
When your body is really struggling, take walking breaks. There is no shame in walking breaks- everyone has started at the beginning at some point.
- Follow a Beginner Running Schedule
It is best to follow a beginner workout program so that you do not try to overdo it. The following is a basic one you can use:
- Basic 8-Week Beginner Running Program
Week 1 & 2:
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: Walk 2 minutes/ Jog 2 minutes for 10 cycles
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: Rest
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: Walk 2 minutes, Run 1 Minute for 10 cycles
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday: Rest
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday: Walk 2 minutes, Run 1 Minute for 10 cycles
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday: Rest
Weeks 5 & 6:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday: Walk 2 Minutes, Run 2 minutes for 10 cycles
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday: Rest
Weeks 7 & 8:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday: Walk 2 Minutes, Run 5 Minutes for 6 cycles
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday: Rest
Beginner running schedules are gradual. You can tweak where you would like, but remember not to push too hard.
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There will be days when you simply do not feel like running, just like everyone else. On these days, you will need more motivation than on others. Below are a few motivation tips to help you out:
- Set Your Goals and Visualize Success
You have to have a goal. Otherwise, how do you know when you get where you want to go? And, it needs to be specific. Are you aiming to run a marathon in six months? Do you want to lose 15 pounds or two inches in your stomach? Do you simply want to breathe better or be able to keep up with your kids? Maybe you just like the idea of running so you get out in the fresh air.
After you have set your goal, you need to imagine yourself reaching it. Do not just see it, though. Feel it. Think about how you will feel when you accomplish it. What will you do? How will you reward yourself? Imagine it and feel it as often as you can.
- Music or Audio Books
Music can be a great motivator. Both music and stories can be great distractions. You might try making a playlist or picking an audio book that you only allow yourself to listen to during your runs.
- Run with Friends
Friends are also great motivators, when they are dedicated. Try finding two or three running buddies so just in case one backs out on a run, you have a back up. As quick as friends can motivate you they can also discourage you. This is why having a circle of running friends is best.
- Join a Running Club
Check around your city for running clubs. A running club is basically a group of people who run together. The point is accountability- you are more likely to show up than have to feel ashamed that you did not.
- Bad weather does not have to keep you from running. If it is a true thunderstorm, use your treadmill instead- or just do a different type of workout for the day.
- You will be sweating and your body heat will be rising, so dress for temperatures that are 10 to 15 degrees more than it is outside.
- Try wearing moisture wicking and breathable running gear. You might also find that putting some foot powder or baby powder in your shoes will help keep your feet dry.
Bad Habits and Mistakes Runners Make- and How to Stay Injury Free
If you have never been trained on proper running form, chances are you will make some of these mistakes and have some of these bad habits.
- Running Injured
If you have some type of injury, do not try to run or else you may end up with an even worse injury. Give yourself time to heal properly first. Running is not going anywhere.
- Start too quick- start with a walk
It is important to start your run off slow. If you jump in to full-fledged running immediately, you will wear yourself out much quicker and might even cause injury. Start with a short walk first.
- Not giving your body time to recover
You have to give your muscles time to heal in between runs to prevent lasting injury. Not to mention, if you do not rest, you will start hating running and might stop doing it all together.
- Swinging your arms
Many runners swing their arms too hard and too wide. As you will see in a moment, you need to control your arms to have proper form.
- Looking at your feet
Always keep your eyes straight. Do not look at your feet while running. This can get you off balance and cause you neck to strain. In addition to that, you are cutting off oxygen.
- Squeezing your fists
Strain you put on your hands moves to other parts of your upper body, including your neck and shoulders. Relax those hands while running to prevent extra injury.
- Pushing too hard
It is repetitive but important: do not push yourself too hard. Athletes can push themselves because they have trained for it, but they too started at the beginning. Take your time. You will get where you want to go.
- Bouncing when running
Bouncing means going up and down- not the direction you are aiming for. Work instead to push yourself forward.
Proper Form- Head to Toe Technique
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Again, running is a full body exercise, so you have to make sure your whole body is in the correct form. This head to toe technique will help you have the proper form:
Instead of looking at your feet, look straight ahead with your chin straight- not up or down. This will help with posture and neck alignment.
Do not hunch over or tighten your shoulders. Always keep your shoulders down and back.
You must focus on your arms and keep them at a 90 degree angle. Your elbows need to stay close to your sides. If the elbows are too wide, your arms will swing across your body which will slow you down.
Again, relax those hands. If you find yourself squeezing your hands, drop your arms to the sides, shake them out, and reposition.
Your core is vital to your fitness, your power, and your balance. Be sure that you engage your core through tightening the muscles In your stomach while running, and keep a check on your posture. By having a firm and stable core, you can more easily run and keep the proper form in the rest of your form.
Your hips should face forward, not be swinging around during your run. If you feel your hips turning too much, try to get them back to the center.
You need to control your knee lift. You do not want to lift your knee to form a 90 degree angle yet you do not want to be dragging your feet. Keep your knees facing forward and lift it enough to keep you moving but not too high.
If you train yourself to keep your legs in correct form, you spread the shock out over multiple parts of your lower body instead of having it all focus on one area. The easiest way to do this is to make sure that your shin bone is perpendicular to the ground when you land.
You want to lean forward slightly while running, and it is best to do the leaning around the ankle instead of the core. Lean forward just enough to propel yourself forward as you run. Also, as you run, try for a mid-foot strike instead of landing on your heel.
Running is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise as it provides cardio, endurance training, and muscle development. It also improves your mental and physical health and cognitive abilities. By using the running tips provided here, you can build up to being an avid runner that is in the best shape of your life.