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So you have made the decision to get off the couch, put down the chips and started running. I say GOOD FOR YOU on making such a great decision. Now to get started off correctly, I am going to go over some of the mistakes I made when starting out in an effort to help you to avoid the same mistakes.
I remember when I started running I would go out and push myself to run 3 or even 4 days in a row. Granted I wasn’t running long distances as I was just starting out but my body was not accustomed to running and I was not letting it get the recovery time it required. My body eventually forced me to take a long recovery rest that lasted a few days. When starting out, you are introducing your body to a new exercise. Your body is meant to run and it will take you on numerous exciting running journeys BUT you must let it recover. You must let it heal. Over use and doing too much too soon will almost certainly lead to injury.
Listen to your body, get into tune how your body feels after a run, the day after and even two days after. If your body is telling to take two days off, then take two days off. Trust me, what your body is telling you needs to be listened to very carefully. Your reward for listening? A strong run the next time out.
Get a plan
I did not have a plan when I started running. When making a decision to get into this wonderful sport of running, look up a number of good beginner plans and follow it. Amby Burfoot and John Stanton have a number of great plans that I would recommend beginners to follow. Remember, you should always ease into a running plan. Don’t put on the shoes and burst out through the door running at top speed. You will make it only a very short distance and will probably get discouraged and stop running thinking you can’t do it. Having a good beginning running plan will ease you into the sport, will motivate you to get to the next level of the plan, will give you a great, feeling of accomplishment when you do reach the next level of the plan, will decrease the chance of injury, and most of all it will make you feel like a RUNNER.
Stretching, Stretching, and Stretching
Very important in my opinion and I didn’t always do it. (Read, the truth about stretching?) I have met runners who have proudly proclaimed that they never stretch. Good for them. I recommend it. Stretching keeps you flexible. I have always felt that if I don’t stretch, my muscles will become tight and increase the chances of injury. I always stretch after every run. I always target the calfs, hamstrings, thighs, back, and shoulders. I feel you should always make stretching a very important part of your running plan.
Remember that as a runner, you are YOU and nobody else. By that I mean don’t think by reading an article on marathon or ultra running that you are suddenly a Ray Zahab or Marshall Ulrich. Okay, yes I made that mistake. I remember reading books by ultra running legends Ray Zahab and Dean Karnazes and thinking, yes I can be just like them! I thought I was Ray Zahab and went from running 14 miles one week up to 31 very painful miles the next. My long run up until that point was 4 miles but after I read that book, I pushed myself to run 10 miles and it knocked the crap out of me, led to an overuse injury and knocked me out of action for a week. When you feel you have graduated from the initial plan and want to amp up the mileage, always use the 10% rule. Never increase your weekly mileage than more than 10% of the prior week. So if you have run 10 miles one week, don’t run more than 11 miles the following week . And don’t worry about any other runner on the street passing you by running at a fast pace. Don’t try to catch them or keep up with them. Just let them go, for now. Many times, I have attempted to catch or keep up with these speed demons but it always ended quickly and me trying to catch my breath and keep from puking.
When you feel you are ready in your running life, you can start adding interval training to your routine and speed things up.
Always bring a bottle of water with you. There are many ways to carry your water bottle that are available at the local running store. And drink water for now and not a sports drink. Sports drinks can come into play later on in your running life when you are out running for 90 minutes or more. All you need is water for now.
Get properly fitted running shoes
Not cross trainers. Running shoes. Extremely important. Find out if you overpronate, underpronate, etc to make sure you have the right shoes. Some people need a good stability shoe, some a good motion control shoe, some need an extra wide shoe, like me (4E, Thank you New Balance!). All these questions can be answered at your local running store.
Well, I hope this helps all you beginner runners somewhat! Until next time – Keep on running!!!!