If you're thinking you want to start running, you’re not alone. It's arguably the most popular form of exercise, men and women are regularly hitting the road, track, or treadmill. It’s so easy any accessible to everyone, not to mention all of the health benefits that come with it.
One advantage of the sport of running is that so little gear is required. The most important investment runners should make is a good pair of running shoes. Make sure the shoes you buy fit properly and complement the way your foot hits the ground.
Most people get into it as a way to lose weight or shape up. Running can burn about 600 calories per hour, builds strong bones, and can reduce your risk for arthritis. Just one and a half to two hours of slow or moderate running per week can add roughly six years to your life.
That’s not to say that it is always easy. Your body can ache, lungs burn, and you can spend the entire run cursing each and every step.
If you’re just getting started, you should start with three 20-minute runs per week. Don’t be afraid to break up the run if you need to walk for a minute. It can take about two months for your muscles to adjust to running's high-impact nature, so switching between walking and running is actually your safest bet for staying healthy.
Aim to run more and walk less each week until you can run 20 to 30 minutes without stopping. Then keep using the talk test to guide your efforts over a few weeks and months, and you'll naturally become fitter and speed up without consciously trying to run faster.
Stay at a speed that’s manageable but also challenges you. It’s ok to go a bit slower so you don’t run yourself into the ground. The idea is to finish each run wanting to do a little bit more or go a little bit faster. It makes it easier to get out there the next time, because you feel like there's more to accomplish and you won’t associate it with pain. Eventually, your steady speed will become easier.
Pushing harder can also increase the calorie-burning and fitness-boosting benefits. But, be aware that it also causes extra stress on your body, so be aware of your body’s responses to avoid injury. Your back should be straight, chest forward, and shoulders back and relaxed.
Running fitness is earned by mixing it up, change distance, speed and intervals. It will help to protect you from injury, so make sure you're regularly trying something new. Try to keep running fun rather than pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion, that way you’ll want to keep doing it.
Remember, if you’re training on a treadmill you have the option to increase incline which will engage more of the glutes and hamstrings. When you run indoors, you don't get the wind resistance or varied terrain of an outdoor run so adjusting the incline can add another challenging element to your run that should be taking advantage of.
Treadmills complement your outside running because the cushioned surface reduces the risk of injuries that many runners get from constantly pounding their legs on the footpath outside.
Whenever you're getting into a running routine it’s important to listen to your body and finish with a good stretch. Just five minutes of stretching and muscle release exercises after your runs is enough to maintain a healthy range of motion in your joints and prevent tight muscles, or injuries.
If you start to feel aches and pains that don't go away after a few days, try some active recovery with lower-impact activities like cycling, swimming, or the elliptical machine. If the pain persists you may be pushing yourself too hard. Ease up a bit, and you'll continue to improve without injury.