Contributed by – Preksha Buttan
Running is considered as one of the easiest forms of exercise, and also an effective way to lose calories. Which is why you’ll find most people resorting to it for getting fitter. However, this seemingly simple exercise can have harmful effects if you don’t take some basic precautions. If you want to make running a long term habit, then these tips might be helpful for you, especially if you are a beginner.
In your excitement, do not think of running all the distance in one go. Understand that your body is not ready for that. You need to give it time to adjust to the new activity. So, start slow. Aim for shorter distances. Maintain a moderate pace. Don’t be ashamed to walk in between. The best practice for beginners is to run at an easy pace for 1 minute and then walk for 1 minute. When comfortable, increase your running time to 2 minutes and walk for 1 minute. Gradually increase your running time and decrease your walking time until you are able to run all the distance without any difficulty.
Choose the correct surface
Surfaces are often overlooked but they heavily impact your joints and ligaments in your legs. Running on the pavement is not same as running on a sandy or grassy surface. Pavements are ideal for fast running and there’s less risk of ankle twist. Though, they can be hard on your joints as they provide no cushion. Grass, on the other hand, provides a lot of cushion but can be a little risky due to hidden stones. Mountain trails are very good if you want to improve your running technique as it brings adventures. But it isn’t an ideal environment for someone who is just beginning. Sand can be tricky as if it’s hard, then it’ll be less challenging but if it’s soft a lot more effort and strength is required. So consider your running goals and choose the correct surface.
Do not take your shoes for granted
It is obvious that one needs a pair of shoes for running. After all, they are meant to protect your foot. But most people overlook the need for good quality running shoes. When it comes to running longer distances, increasing the cushioning of the shoe is not the ultimate answer. You need to analyze your need and find what works best for you. You need to check the cushioning, which makes the ground feel softer underfoot. Weight of the shoes has to be considered. And drop, which is the difference in the level of cushioning from the rear foot to the forefoot, is also an essential element which has to be taken into account. You can visit a good store where the staff can help you with understanding your requirement and selecting a pair of running shoes meant just for you.
Don’t run too much
Remember that rest days are as important as active days. It can be tempting to go on a run every day and you might also think of it as a good idea to develop an active routine. But in reality, your body needs rest. It is not meant for heavy training each and every day. When you do that, you only tire your body and not giving it a chance to relax and bounce back. Moreover, you also increase your odds of injury. So, make a plan and set realistic goals. Plan your run three or four times a week and set your duration and distance to what your body allows. On your days in between, you can go for other less intensive exercises like Yoga or Pilates or even swimming. This way you’ll be active even on your rest days.
Move each part of your body
Every part of your body is connected. If one part is weak, there are high chances of getting an injury in other parts as well. So you need to strengthen every muscle of your body. For this, engage in other types of exercises along with your run. Add deadlifts, lunges, squats and planks to your routine to make every part of your bodywork. You can add other moves in the form of warm-up and cool down. Since warm-up and cool-down are necessary to avoid injuries, extending them by adding more exercises is only going to increase your benefits.
Eat and drink right
When you run, you effectively burn calories. As a result, your appetite increases. If you don’t control yourself, you’ll end up eating more than required. This is only going to increase your weight and you’ll be disheartened by not seeing positive results. The key here is to eat and drink right. Yes, you have to fulfil your needs but you need to start watching what you are consuming. For that, switch to a healthier diet rich in healthy carbs and proteins. And for drinks, go for unsweetened shakes or green tea. Also, do not eat heavy meals right before and after your run. If you do, you’ll be at risk of getting stomach aches.
Get yourself tested
It is always advisable to get yourself checked before starting a new workout routine or even a new diet plan. The doctor will tell you of any underlying health issue that could cause difficulty later. Any deficiencies or anything concerning your health will be checked by your doctor and he or she may advise you on to do’s and not to do’s. It has been noticed that most people only go to the doctor only when they face any discomfort. But if you make it a routine to visit a doctor at least once in 6 months, any issue will be recognized even before it becomes troublesome. This way there will be no setbacks and you will only progress.