The most common mistake new runners make is deciding to just go and run. It's easy to do – just lace up those sneakers and head out the door, right? Wrong. Running without building up a base or starting out too fast can lead to injuries and burnout. Follow our tips below to enjoy the run and want to keep lacing up those sneakers.
- Begin with run/walk intervals. Even if you are fit (go to the gym, take spin classes, etc), running is hard on your body. If you're not used to running, there’s more room for injury and soreness. that's why we recommend newbies start with a Run/Walk approach. If you're off the couch, start slowly because an injury will only hamper your progress. Your run/walk intervals might be 1/3 (1 minute running and 3 minutes walking). If you're highly active, you might want to try 5/2 or 7/2 intervals.
- Measure progress in minutes, not miles. When you first start running, aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes. Once you hit 30 minutes of run/walk intervals, slowly begin to increase the run intervals by a minute or two each week. Once you reach 30 minutes of continuous running, you can begin to measure your progress in miles.
- Focus on effort, not pace. During the run intervals, you want to be able to talk without feeling winded. If you start to feel winded, slow down. Monitor how your body responds to the effort during training (i.e. how you feel) as opposed to your minute-per-mile pace.
- Frequency is important. Aim for three days of run/walk intervals and don’t run/walk two days in a row. The non-running days allow your muscles and joints to get use to the pounding. This doesn’t mean you shouldn't exercise. Go for a bike ride, take a yoga class or adopt a strength-training routine. You want to build up your cardiovascular health, so aim to be active five or six days a week.
- Invest in the proper shoes. It's true that running is a pretty low-cost, low-maintenance sport. However, there are a few key pieces of "equipment" that require an investment. The most important piece is finding a proper shoe. Not all running sneakers are created equally, nor are all correct for you. Go to a specialty running store (not a store like Sports Authority) and talk to the sales person about your new endeavor and fitness history. Don't be embarrassed! They are there to help you find a shoe you love so you, in turn, will love running.