Because we all have a crazy running rabbit inside waiting to hop all around… OK, at least I do.
Here are some very basic key points to consider before hitting the road and that will actually help you do less hitting and more running, saving your knees, ankles and spirit on the way.
All of these subjects I’ll cover in more depth on this section of our site gradually, but for now let this be a starting point a basic guide…
1 Don’t underestimate the technique even if your running is limited to an occasional couple of miles, it is very important that you learn to run as specifically a possible. Running is VERY demanding and requires a lot from your body. Being a high impact sport, it puts a strain of up to four times your weight in every single step. I was incredibly lucky to have learned from a super zen and super experienced long distance runner that trained me for the sole reason of sharing his hobby with a fellow runner in need of learning. I Hope you are so lucky too, but if not, there are so many ways to learn. Find out about the running groups in your area, seek advice from the trainers at your gym, do your research and find ways to educate yourself in a way you enjoy. As in life, in running the details matter A LOT, and can be the difference in doing damage or good to your body.
2 Be patient. Be patient. Be patient. (The first one was for you, the two others a reminder to myself) Running takes time. Gaining endurance, developing strength, building stability, all these are long term projects that take time and very soon you will see that rushing the process brings injuries more sooner than later. Injuries that could have been prevented by being patient. It’s a good idea specially at the beginning while you’re getting to know your body, to follow a training schedule. Keep in mind that running creates an overdose state of endorphins, serotonin and adrenaline that can numb some aches and pains on the road so take it easy, give yourself time to progress in your training… and be patient.
3 Your body is your ONLY tool. While clothing and shoes are an important factor, your engine is, well: you. So keeping the machine in top condition helps. Be mindfull about your body, keep it healthy, nourish it and be kind to it… It’s alive and if it’s happy it will let you enjoy rather than make you suffer your run.
4 What you use for fuel matters. Top quality fuel makes a difference, find ways to make your diet as healthy as possible. Running requires a lot of energy, make sure you get it from your food. Running also implies a constant restoration of the tissues, you need to rebuilt muscle, rehydrate joints, replenish blood, etc, after EACH run, make sure your diet is giving you enough of what you need. Focus on high nutrient density food, lots of veggies and fruits, whole grain and some superfoods.
5 Rest. Do not undersestimate this one. That I am very active and have high endurance, is a double edged sword as many times this has made it easy for me to neglect my rest and then pay the consequences in injuries. The most important process for rebuilding and restoring the body take place on the deepest stage of sleep, make sure you get your seven to eight hours of sleep and respect your resting days!
6 Learn about your body, learn about anatomy and some common easy house remedies that will keep your joints happy and muscles relaxed. Even an Epson salts bath once a week can make a huge difference! if you really get into it you can make your own oils for a foot rub the nights after long runs or hard workouts.
7 Hydration. Hydrate everyday but especially the running days. With this one I also struggle, most days I drink about two liters of water at best and that’s not nearly enough! Aim for three to four liters. Of course this can change depending on your weight, metabolism, climate, etc. The days of long running consider having some electrolytes also, you lose a lot of minerals by sweating especially manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc. These minerals are vital for your bones, muscles and connecting tissue but also for assimilating and metabolizing fluids.
8 Cross training. It’s always a good idea to do at least two different types of exercise. Keep in mind that everything is equally important: cardio, strength and flexibility. Depends on what you like, but I have found yoga a perfect complement to running. I get the strength, the flexibility, work out every muscle so I can keep the ones that are not used so hardly when running strong and fit while focus on relaxing the thighs, lower back and all those muscles that sometimes get overworked with running so they don’t become stiff or tense and recover faster. Some other good ideas if yoga is not your thing is… biking, swimming, climbing, you name it! The point is to maintain every part of your body in the best possible shape… this will also help you avoid serious injuries and will keep your training interesting and fun.
9 Work out your gear. Finding the right running shoe can be overwhelming, hopefully the guy at the sports store will be nice and experienced, don’t worry about asking too much. Think about the type of running you want to do, speed or long distance, weekend jog or marathon training. What’s your foot type, where will you do most of your running: pavement, cross country, laps. Weather, short sleeve, tops, shorts… experiment and find what you are most comfortable with. Don’t worry about how you look, it is more important that you are comfortable so you can enjoy your workout. Running has a lot of repetitive movements so choosing the wrong shorts for example, can have devastating results in your groin area if you try them for long distance!
10 Have fun. But for real, enjoy your running, enjoy your day… there is nothing more important than this moment!