How to Start Running

how to start jogging

How to start running

“Running shmunning”, I recently thought to myself while listening to a friend drone on and on about his recent athletic accomplishments. Why would anyone want to do that? Why would anyone willingly inflict that pain upon themselves? Well, as I would come to find out, there are plenty of reasons (good ones too) for why a person should want to run. My friend had unknowingly sparked a huge interest in fitness, health and running in me from that one conversation. He looked great, seemed happy, and had a ton of energy. I was a few pounds overweight, fluctuating in and out of depression and looked a little bit…well…terrible. I wanted what he had. I wanted to look and feel as great as he was bragging about, I wanted to make a change and I wanted it NOW. Well, since our bodies don’t magically flush out body fat on command, and it can pretty darn hard to conjure up feelings of happiness and contentment while you’re down in the dumps, I knew “now” wasn’t an option. I knew I was going to have to work for that change. And “now” was as good a time as any to get started.

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From that point on I threw myself into learning as much as I could about the strange mystical world of running and jogging. I wanted to feel that “runner’s high” I kept reading about. After much trial, error, blundering, shin splints, cramps, tripping, even a case of plantar fasciitis, I learned some valuable things. So without further ado, here are some of the things I learned about how to run as a complete beginner.

Get yourself some proper running shoes

running shoes photo

I really can’t stress this enough. Proper running shoes will make or absolutely break your attempts at beginning running. Our feet are powerful and essential parts of our body that we really need to take care of. They carry a massive amount of weight from point A to B on a daily basis. You wouldn’t put worn out, bald, or cheap tires on your car would you? Treat your feet the same and they will take you far!

Warm up your body

Rushing head first into anything is usually not a good idea. The same can be said for running. Taking the time to warm your body up before stretching can make a huge difference in your stamina as well as helping to prevent injuries. Warming up allows your joints and muscles to stretch out and loosen up a bit while giving your heart rate a little bit of a boost. My recommendation is to do a few jumping jacks or walk at a brisk pace for about 5 minutes before you get into your stretching routine. Which brings me to me next tip:

Be sure to stretch

stretch photo

I mean it. Maybe you’re on a time crunch and just want to get to running or you just think stretching is pointless, don’t skip it. Stretch! There is some argument as to at what point in your run you should be stretching. Some experts swear by stretching before a run while other seem to think it zaps your stamina and should be done after. Regardless, the general consensus is that stretching should always occur at some point during the running process. How and when is up to you.

Start slow

A lot of new runners make the mistake of overdoing it right out of the gate. Our bodies need some time to adjust to this new strenuous activity and pushing yourself too hard too fast can put out of commission and set you back in your fitness goals. This is something I can attest to first hand. During my first week of running, I tried to ignore the painful burning sensations in my feet.  It felt like someone was stabbing a hot poker into my heel area. I ran for 1 mile then told myself to push past the pain and go for another. Well, all I ended up doing was screwing myself over in the end. I ended up with a painful case of plantar fasciitis. I couldn’t run for another 2 weeks after that incident. So do yourself a favor and pace yourself. Build up to longer distances and faster times, don’t rush in into them.

Get some running socks

Socks are socks right? It doesn’t matter which kind you get as long as you can stick your feet in them am I right? Wrong. Socks make a huge difference for a couple of reasons. Cheap cotton socks can soak up your foot sweat (nasty) which can lead to a soggy, stinky and sometimes even painful run. Dry socks aid in the prevention of friction between your shoe and your feet. When a sock is wet in can result in you getting some nasty blisters on your feet. You can purchase special running socks made with fibers that don’t absorb liquid which will keep your feet dry and happy.

Use a running app

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Running apps are a must have for me. A good running app tracks your progress and lets you set goals. Tracking your distance and seeing how far you got is a great motivator (you get to show off your distance charts on Facebook after each run). running apps are also a great way to estimate how many calories you may have burned during your run. I personally started off with the Couch to 5k app and couldn’t have been happier with it. The app walks you through warming up (literally) and helps you pace yourself while running. It’s great to have something in your ear telling you when to walk and run. This app slowly weans you into running a full 5k (3 miles) without stopping by upping the time spent running and lowering the time spent walking each week.

Eat properly

Eating properly doesn’t mean just eating the right foods. It’s pretty obvious at this point that eating healthy is essential when exercising. Eating properly also means eating the right foods at the right times and in the proper portion sizes. Loading yourself up with food before a run can slow you down and make you feel sluggish. Eating too little food before a run can leave you feeling drained and without energy. My personal preference was to eat a light snack right before a run. Try having a banana, a handful of nuts, or some oats. These are great sources of energy that won’t leave you feeling loaded down.

Stay hydrated

water bottle photo

This one almost goes without saying but it still needs to be mentioned. Drinking enough water is essential to keeping yourself in tip-top shape. Being dehydrated will zap your energy and make you feel downright terrible. Staying hydrated means drinking water throughout your day, not just before or after a run. Fortifying yourself with water before a run (1-2 hours before) will help to ensure you stay hydrated throughout it. If you’re running super long distances then it wouldn’t hurt to consume a sports drink that replenishes your electrolytes. Make sure you don’t drink too much water! Although rare, there is such a thing as water poisoning. If you flush out too many electrolytes from your system you can get very sick and even die in extreme cases. A good rule of thumb is to stop drinking if you can hear water sloshing around in your stomach.

Stay safe

Running and jogging can be dangerous. If you’re running at night always make sure to bring a light or reflective material of some kind. You may not be as visible as you think you are and could easily end up getting hit by a car. Personal safety devices such as a taser or pepper spray are also a good idea. I like to run at night in the park by my house and never leave my house without my pepper spray. You never know what crazies are out and about and up to no good. Better safe than sorry.

I hope you found these running tips helpful and I wish you great success in your running endeavors. Remember, with self-discipline all things are possible. Start slow, set goals, keep at it and I promise you’ll find that happiness and confidence you’ve been searching for.

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