Everyone wants to stay fit and healthy. But the real struggle is to get started on the so-called new year resolution of exercising daily or hitting the gym without missing out on a single day. While there are numerous ways to get physically fit, running is one of the most effective and popular forms of staying healthy. Moreover, the best part about running is that no equipment is needed to get started and you can run anytime, anywhere. Just a pair of shoes and you’re good to go on a road!
Tips To Follow Before You Start Running!
When you decide to take up running on a regular basis, it is important that you know how to go about it. You should spend at least 2 weeks going for regular walks or taking part in some form of exercise for 30 minutes a day for 4-5 days a week, before you take up running. Here is how you can take up running as a daily habit and make it part of your exercise routine:
1. Start With A Walk And Run
While you may be tempted to give your best on the very first day of your run, this is not an ideal thing to do. Experts suggest that you can run longer, feel stronger, stay energetic and prevent injuries if you start gradually.
The best way to achieve this is by adding short bouts of running to your regular walks and then gradually pacing up. Start by adding one minute of running for every four minutes of walking. Eventually, spend twice the amount of time on running than you do on walking. This way you not only train your body to pick up the pace but also put less stress on the muscles.
2. Listen To Your Body
As you start running, you may be at risk of experiencing aches and pains. It is quite common to go through pain in calf muscles and thighs and this is no reason to worry and stop running. These pains will ease out as you get accustomed to running on a regular basis.
There are however pains that you shouldn’t ignore. These include any sharp pains or pains that persist or worsen as you walk, run, or go about your daily activities. These are signals that indicate your body needs to rest (which can range from a few days to a week). But if the pain becomes unbearable or it hurts badly when you walk, then it is wise to see a doctor immediately.
3. Train Your Brain
To stick to your plan, it is important to stay motivated. Listen to music as you run to help you get going or fix a set schedule or time that suits you the most for running. Write out a plan and probably stick it on a wall or a place where you can see it. You can even set your plan as your laptop’s screensaver or your phone’s wallpaper so you don’t miss it.
Create a pre-run routine to cue your body and mind that it’s time to go. Also, try and stick with your timings. Right after your run, treat yourself to something you genuinely enjoy—like a hot shower, or foot massage -so your brain associates exercise with an immediate reward.
4. Pick Your Running Shoes Carefully
The first and foremost rule to get started for running is to invest in is a pair of good quality running shoes. It is best to pick up your footwear from stores that specialize in running shoes and where the staff is well trained to help you pick the right ones.
Replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles because worn-out shoes are a leading cause of injury. Moreover, wear and tear aren’t often obvious to the naked eye. So have a close watch on the quality of your shoes. Running in sandals or slippers is strictly not advised as it can increase the risk of injury.
5. Maintain Your Posture
Running involves being in the right posture and using the right muscles to get maximum benefits and to avoid injuries. Imagine yourself walking tall, looking right ahead and avoid looking down.
Take short strides. Keep your elbows flexed at about 90 degrees, and keep your hands relaxed, as if you were holding a piece of paper between your thumb and pointer finger.
6. Take Regular Walk Breaks
When you are running, you may be tempted to skip the walking breaks in between and to keep running instead. This can do more harm than good. Walk breaks give you the much needed breather in between and help you run more in the long run and keep you injury free.
7. Eat Right
Make sure that at each meal, half of your calories are coming from healthy carbohydrates like fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Remember, a quarter of your calories need to come from healthy fats like nuts, seeds, olive oil. The remaining quarter should comprise of lean protein like soy, fish, lean poultry, eggs, and beans.
8. Be Patient
From the very first day of your running, positive changes will start within your body, most of which will not be visible in your mirror right away. Being patient is the key to getting the rewards of running and to avoid serious injuries. You will gradually start losing weight, but this will take time till your muscles, ligaments, and tendons are conditioned. Plus, every time your foot strikes the ground, it stimulates bone growth, so your bones get stronger and denser.
Running is actually a great way to improve your overall health right from maintaining a consistent weight to staying happy and stress-free. So, go ahead and get running for a healthy mind, body, and soul. Happy Running!
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)