Disclaimer – I am not a running coach. Whatever I have learnt about running is by running, from my runner friends, my coach, my run failures, my website, my run successes, my injuries and my recovery. I am a beginner in many ways. Today I feel slightly grown up as runner, but the excitement of hitting the road every morning is the same as it was 5 years back.
Basics are where it all starts. Basics are what we forget the fastest in the excitement of doing more and more as a runner. Basics are what we should never forget no matter how far we have come running.
The best time for a runner is when he/ she is beginning. The mistakes you make, the things you learn, the weight you lose, the breathlessness – Everything – just about everything teaches you something about yourself and your fitness levels.
As the running season starts, let’s spend 5 minutes relearning.
Somethings you should not miss as a beginner:
3k is not a marathon. 10k is not a marathon. 15k is not a marathon. 21k is not a marathon. So now that we know what is not a marathon. Let’s find out what is a marathon.
42.2k IS a MARATHON (phew! Take a print out and stick it on your fridge or workstation! ASAP)
What is a half marathon? 21.1k IS a Half- Marathon.
No matter what level of running you start at, how slow or fast, running long distances or not – the power and importance of a warm up before a run can never be underestimated. A dynamic warm up – like a few jumping jacks, some high knees (depending upon your fitness levels) are important to raise the heart rate and warm up the body before a run. Prepare yourself to run.
Cool Down Stretches
Just as the importance of warm up cannot be underestimated, the cool down has a big place in the life of a runner. It relaxes your muscles and eliminates the lactic acid that has built up in your body from all the pushing. The heart rate has gone up while running and now it needs to be brought down gradually. A cool down also prevents any upcoming injuries that can happen as we push our body to run longer and faster. The body has been running in one position and so your hips, your arms, your shoulders tend to stiffen up. This is where static yoga stretches really help in loosening the body. Click here for some great post-run stretches.
Just like with anything in life! Always make a slow start in running too. You are bound to burn out all your energy right in the beginning and will have no fuel left for the entire run, if you start fast. Try, start slow, gradually as your body gets into rhythm you can pick up pace and push yourself. Pushing yourself too fast and too early in the run will leave you completely burnt out and you might not even finish what you have come out to do.
Walk, if you have to
There is nothing wrong in adopting a run-walk-run strategy, As a beginner you are bound to get tired, lose your breathe much faster, which should not mean that you quit the run, but just take short walk breaks, gather your breath and go for it again. If you stay at it, it will only be a matter of time that you will be running longer, taking shorter walk breaks and finally reach an ‘all run, no walk’ stage!
Good Running Quality Basic Shoes
Do you have one? Worn out or ill-fitting shoes are a recipe for injury. You don’t need to buy the fanciest of running shoes, however a shoe that supports and grips your foot well is a must. Your toes should not be hurting during or after the run. While a great shoe may or may not make you run faster – a bad shoe will definitely ruin your knees and your running.
Road vs Park Trails
If possible and accessible, try to start running on a soft track. The road can be a bit harsh on the knees in the beginning. Soft tracks will in fact strengthen your calves and put overall less impact on your knees which is exactly how you will also save yourself from running injuries.
Invest in good quality and proper fitting running clothes
Why is this important you would ask? Wearing the right workout clothes can help you stay comfortable and cool during running. Workout clothes are designed to give you comfort over fabrics that don’t breath. A good quality dri-fit running t-shirt and running tights/ shorts that don’t chaff your skin while running are a must.
If you are running three times a week, remember to do some cross training on the other 3 days. Chose your sport – Cycling, Swimming, Yoga. It is important to strengthen the muscle groups that don’t get used during running. This improves overall wellness of the body and removes the tiredness accumulated from running – overall an active lifestyle is what you give yourself!
Simplest, and most natural Pre Run Nutrition – Banana
Simplest, cheapest and most natural during Run Hydration
For summer months mix rock salt + jaggery + lemon in water. There are many readymade mixes/ sports drinks available too. It will all depend upon what kind of run you are going for and what kind of hydration you want to adapt to.
Simplest, and most natural immediate post-run nutrition
Before you get home to a breakfast, carry a fruit in your car. It could be a banana, apple and even coconut water.
It might sound funny, but there are more running events than runners these days. Runners grapple with the problem of which event to run every Sunday, since there are more than 4-5 events live in the same city at the same time. The love for collecting medals, better timings lures runners into doing 4-5 events every month – leading to burn out, injuries and also cut off from families. Be wise – chose your events with thought – you could use them as training platforms and run hard only in very few. This is one important tip for your long life as a runner.
And finally – as you start your journey into running, the best advice for beginners is:
You have to start where you are, not where you think you should be,’– Janet Hamilton.
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