Teaching learn to run is one of my favourite things. Helping take people from “I can’t possibly run for 30 seconds” to running their first 5k or 10k is an absolute inspiration to watch. Here are my top 5 tips I give all of my new runners to help set them up for success:
- Follow the Program. Even if you have a solid cardio base and you feel capable of running for longer intervals follow the progression as it is written. The primary reason we progress as slowly as we do is to give your connective tissue (aka your ligaments & tendons) and your joints time to adjust to the impact of running. Too much too soon is one of the main reasons people get injured. Stay the course and trust the program.
- Believe you CAN. Tell that negative nelly to VACATE your brain! You CAN do this. The hardest part was deciding to start! You’ve got this!
- Get good quality shoes. Head to a technical running store and get fitted by a professional. They should watch you walk, ask you to do a few movements and evaluate your gait PRIOR to fitting you in shoes. There are literally HUNDREDS of shoes to choose from. This is because there are HUNDREDS of different types of mechanics & foot shapes. The BEST shoe is all about finding the one that fits YOU best. Want more of the geeky details? Watch this video.
- Stay safe. Don’t run alone in the trails. Wear reflective clothing/ lights. And always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Also be sure to carry your cel phone (with your ICE – In Case of Emergency) info entered or ID.
- Slow down. The 30s intervals the program starts with are not sprints! Run your intervals at comfortable, conversational pace. Don’t worry about your speed – that will come once you’ve built your foundation. You don’t start by building a roof.
- Running form. Don’t over-think your running form at this point but do be aware of these three common pitfalls:
- Arms crossing the midline – hold your arms at a relaxed 90 degree angle at the elbow and gently swing front to back. Hold your core strong and resist twisting the body.
- Overstriding – ideally your feet should land under your hips- overextending the landing of the heel in front of your body is called overstriding and can lead to issues.
- Keep your eyes up & chin up – this is especially important as you go up hills! If you drop your chin/ eyes your cutting off your air supply (clearly that’s not ideal!)
- Hydrate! Make sure you’re well hydrated (1/2 your body weight in ounces – EVERY day). On days you run (especially in very warm or cold weather) you need more! So drink up throughout the day (if you forget all day don’t guzzle it all at the last minute – otherwise you’ll be running from bathroom to bathroom!).
- Cross-train. Running is fabulous, but ONLY running is not so much. There are certain muscles that running doesn’t activate – and over time, this can lead to imbalances across the joints and those imbalances can lead to injuries. Cross training doesn’t have to look complicated. It can be as simple as doing some basic strength training 2-days per week using just your body weight.
- Fuel up. The car won’t start if it doesn’t have gas in the tank. And your Ferrari won’t run (well, at least not WELL) on the cheap gas. So fuel your engine with good quality nutrients. Make sure you’re eating a variety of foods & include some whole grains to ensure you’re getting the carbohydrates you need. But don’t OVER eat those carbs (no carb loading required) – just a healthy amount of carbs will do just fine.
- Train smart. Make sure you take at least 1 day between your 3 runs per week. You can cross-train on your alternate days, but ideally don’t run. When you exercise you are breaking down your muscles. your body needs time to recover & get stronger. REST is how it does this.
Oh and HAVE FUN!!! That’s the most important part. Find a way to enjoy your runs. Find great music, have a running buddy or join a clinic!
Questions? I’d love to answer them! Until then, happy running!