6 Tips for Your Running RoutineArticle posted in: Fitness
Warm weather has arrived and so has your exercise motivation! If the start of spring has you thinking about starting a running routine, we’ve got some helpful tips to consider before you get moving.
1. Start Running
It may seem hard and unattainable, but as little as 50 minutes of running a week can extend your life, according to research, published in British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM). Researchers looked at 14 studies involving more than 232,000 people and found that runners have a 27 percent lower risk of death; a 30 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease; and 23 percent lower risk of cancer than those who don’t run or exercise.1
Did you read that “50 minutes per week” line? Do you know what that means? That means you don’t have to be an Olympian. You don’t have to run the Boston Marathon. You don’t have to run in the rain, wear water-bottle waist-belts or have fancy workout clothes to be a “runner.” You just have to make a consistent effort to exercise and get your heart rate up a few times a week.
2. Ease Into It
Not sure your body is up to the task? That’s fair—especially if you haven’t exercised in some time, or ever. Talk with your doctor and get his or her approval before beginning. Then, start small by walking short distances each day. Try walking a little farther and faster as you get more comfortable. Eventually, you can start to add short runs within your walks. Again, increase the intensity, time and distance as you get more comfortable.
There are some terrific apps to help you get started—look into Couch to 5K, Pacer or Human to name a few. Even an Apple Watch can track your activity and encourage you to hit daily exercise and move goals.
If you’re not quite ready to start running, find an elliptical machine. They “mimic the rhythm and motion of running” without the impact stress, says Harvard Health Publishing.2
3. Check Your Shoes
When is the last time you got new sneakers? And for what activity did you purchase them? Walking? Just to have comfortable shoes? Running shoes can seem like a considerable unnecessary expense. But with them, you’ll set yourself up for success. Without them, your feet, joints and body are prone to injury.
To determine which running shoes are best for you, decide where you’re exercising. Do you like to run or hike outside on trails? Do you run on a track or pavement? A treadmill? Seek out a running shoe designed to go where you go, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). They also recommend looking at your “foot type” before purchasing the best running shoe. Do you have a high-arch or a more flat foot? “People with high-arched feet tend to require greater shock absorption,” says ACE. “Conversely, people with low-arched (“flat”) feet require shoes with less cushioning, but greater support in the mid-foot region and better heel control.” Make sure your running shoe selection offers stability and fits correctly.3
When you start running, don’t worry too much about technique, says Harvard Health Publishing. There’s no need to focus on striking the ground with your heel first or to coordinate breathing with foot strikes. Do what is comfortable for you.4
4. Set Goals
How fast should you run? And how far? According to Healthline, the average walking speed is 3 to 4 mph, while the average jogging speed is 4 to 6 mph.5,6 The frequently adopted notion is that a run begins at 6 mph, which equates to a 10-minute mile.6
Not even close to running a 10-minute mile? Don’t fret; you have to start somewhere. According to Harvard Health Publishing, any amount of running is better than no running at all. They cite the same BJSM research we mentioned earlier, stating that the pace and distance that study participants ran didn’t matter when it came to decreasing the risk of death.7Do what you can and simply set small goals to gradually increase your distance and pace over time.
5. Find a Friend
Boost your workout motivation with an accountability partner! If you’re ready to give up on your running routine, a running buddy may be the last thing to get you up and moving. It’s also great to have a friend with you for safety reasons if you’re running outside or going somewhere out in nature. You can push each other to go further and maybe even have a friendly race up a hill. Find a friend or family member that has similar fitness goals and create a running routine together.
Stretching offers terrific physical benefits, including reduced pain and stiffness, enhanced range of motion, improved blood flow and circulation and improved posture, says ACE.8 Our favorite post-running stretches are yoga poses from ACE:
- Pyramid Pose: Stand with feet hip-width and put your left foot behind you, around 3 feet. Align your right heel with your left heel, allowing the left foot to turn out at a 45-degree angle. Put your hands on your hips and fold forward over the right thigh. Place your hands on the floor. You should feel a deep stretch in your hamstring. Hold and breathe deeply for 30 seconds and switch sides.9
- Fire Log: Sit in a cross-legged position on a blanket or mat. Place your left ankle on top of your right knee, stacking the shins, then release the left knee toward the right foot. Hold and breathe deeply for 30 seconds and switch sides.9
- Reclined Bound Angle: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet the floor. Open the knees, letting them fall to each side and draw the soles of the feet together. Bring the heels as close to the body as possible and breathe deeply. Hold for at least 60 seconds.9
*Always speak to your doctor before starting an exercise or stretching routine.