Are you thinking of starting your first running program? You’re not alone. Running is one of the most popular activities. However, you have to understand that running is a skill. You have to constantly work on it in order to get better. Just because it’s one of the first things you learned while growing up, does not mean you won’t need instruction. Whether for fun or for health, you should learn it from scratch. If you’re a beginner, we’ve made this guide so you can make your first running program.
Why Do Beginners Need This Guide To Running?
Exercise, in any form, will benefit your health. It is important to stay active every day. When you are constantly moving, your body functions better. You burn calories, blood flow is efficient, muscles and connective tissues become stronger, and your various internal systems perform at optimal levels.
The truth is, some forms of exercise are better than others. For example, if you want to lose weight, walking is a good choice but running will deliver faster results.
Running is a more vigorous and intense activity than walking. Thus, your heart rate will be higher. This will increase your metabolism and consequently, burn more calories and result in greater weight loss. Running is one of the best ways to get fit.
Running produces greater impact forces than walking and will develop bigger and stronger muscles in your calves, thighs, hamstrings, glutes, and hips.
However, with higher returns come higher risks. If not performed properly, running can be a dangerous activity.
This guide will teach you how to plan your first running program so you can minimize the risks associated with running.
We will show you where to start and give you valuable running tips for beginners so you will be well-prepared even before you take your first few strides. Find out the best way to get fit through running.
By following this beginners’ guide to your first running program, you will enjoy all of the health benefits the activity can give you while staying several meters ahead of its risks.
Step 1 – See Your Doctor
The first step to any exercise program begins in your doctor’s office. It doesn’t matter if you are fairly lean, in good shape, or had previous experience as a competitive runner. Setting aside time to see your doctor is always a step in the right direction.
You can’t tell what’s wrong on the inside by looking at the outside. Your doctor will ask you to go through a series of tests to make sure you are fit enough to start a running program.
Do not start a running program until you receive a clean bill of health from your doctor. As we mentioned, running is a very intense exercise. Running for beginners should be done under very deliberate and well-thought out conditions.
Step 2 – Commit Yourself to Running
Becoming a runner; a good one, takes time and consistency. It will not happen overnight. As we pointed out in the introduction to this article, running is a skill. In order to gain proficiency in a skill, you must constantly work on it. That means logging in the miles every week.
It’s always exciting to try something new. You feel great whenever you set a new personal best. However, in order to progress, the program has to become more challenging. If you want to run a marathon, you won’t be able to finish 42 kilometres if you only cover distances up to 5 kilometres.
When the program gets hard, that’s when many people quit. Commit yourself to running. You should understand that in order to become better, you have to keep challenging yourself. Learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Step 3 – Cover All the Bases
Running by itself will not make you a better runner. If this sounds contrary to the previous section, what we mean is that you should cover all the bases. In addition to the physical act of running, your running for beginners program should likewise include proper diet, supplementation, and sleep.
Your diet should consist of fruits and vegetables that are packed with vitamins and minerals. Include lean protein sources such as organic chicken, fish, and grass-fed steak. Choose unprocessed foods or those that do not contain excessive amounts of salt and sugars, food colouring, and other artificial ingredients.
Supplement your diet with the right vitamins and minerals. Your doctor should be able to advise you on which supplements you should include in your diet.
Lastly, get 7-8 hours of sleep every night so that your body can properly recover and be ready for the succeeding workouts.
Step 4 – Learn Correct Running Form and Technique
One of the best running tips for beginners we can give you is to learn correct form and technique. Running is a high impact sport. Whenever your foot makes contact on the ground, powerful shock forces go up to your shins, knees, and hips. Poor form leads to injuries and nagging pain.
There are many ways you can learn correct running form and technique:
- Attend running seminars.
- Talk to friends who are experienced runners.
- Join a running community or running club.
- Conduct online research; watch running instructional videos.
Running form and technique may vary according to individual. Find the technique that best suits your body type. It may take some time to be comfortable but as we discussed in Step #2, log in the miles until the skill becomes more natural.
Step 5 – Invest in Proper Running Gear
Another contributing factor to running injuries is using incorrect gear. If you run with shoes that don’t fit well or suit your type of feet, you will get injured.
You don’t have to buy the most expensive running shoes. What is more important is to buy a pair that fits comfortably. If you have an arch, buy a pair that has support. If you have flat feet, the best pair of running shoes for you is one that offers stability.
Step 6 – Set Realistic Goals
As the old saying goes, learning a new skill is “a marathon, not a sprint”. If finishing a marathon is your ultimate goal, you have to slowly build up the stamina and strength for it. The same can be said if your goal is to lose weight.
If you weigh 220 pounds and your goal is to attain a bodyweight of 150 pounds, it will not be realistic to lose 70 pounds in one month. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends losing only 1-2 pounds per week or 4 to 8 pounds per month.
Goal setting is a great way to get results. However, your goals should be realistic and doable. If you try to rush your progress, you might get injured or seriously compromise your health.
Step 7 – Create a Running Workout Schedule
Create a running workout schedule that you can commit to. If you’re working or presently enrolled in school, set aside at least 3 days a week for running. A one-hour running session should be enough. It should include time for proper warm up and cool down.
Make sure you get rest days in between running sessions. As a beginner, don’t push it! Be patient and build up your strength and endurance gradually.
We don’t recommend running on pavement and hard surfaces all the time. Mix up your running sessions. Beginners should add treadmill running to their workout schedule.
Here is a sample running workout schedule for beginners:
|Treadmill Run: 5 minutes walk (warm up), 10-15 minutes slow jog, 5 minutes walk (cool down).||Rest||Park or Track Oval: 400 meters x 4 rounds; walk 200 meters after each round.||Rest||Rest||Road work: Run 2.4 kilometres.||Rest|
When you’re a beginner, don’t worry about speed or the pace of your run. Focus on maintaining and sustaining your running cadence. If you were able to run 10 minutes non-stop the previous week, try to run 15 minutes non-stop this week.
Step 9 – Include Strength and Conditioning
The constant pounding from running will cause wear and tear on your joints. The best way to minimize damage is to include strength and conditioning in your beginners’ running program.
The notion that lifting weights will make you slow is a myth. On the contrary, lifting weights will build stronger muscles, bones, and ligaments. A proper weight-training program for runners will lead to stronger muscles not bigger muscles.
The stronger your leg muscles are, the more you will be able to withstand and absorb the shock forces created by running. Likewise, your bones and ligaments will be stronger and more durable. Your risks of getting a fracture or a broken bone will be much less.
In our running workout schedule above, you can do weight-training on Monday since you’re already at the gym and on Thursday.
You should also consider competing in a running event. The value of competition is that it gives you purpose. It gives you extra motivation to stick to your running program. Choose a short distance contest such as a 3- kilometre run for your first running meet and then build up from there.