Running is a great activity for your physical, mental as well as emotional health. Most people start running as a way to improve their cardiovascular health or to lose fat. But soon they realize that running has a major improvement in their lifestyle and an overall positive outlook in their day-to-day lives.
Although running may look like a simple activity, you may come across a few unexpected challenges in the beginning. In this article, I will address some of the challenges you will face when you start running and also give you tips for overcoming them.
1. Medical Clearance
If you’ve had an active lifestyle for over a year, I recommend you consult a physician in order to check if you have any underlying injuries that you may have come across over time.
Getting this check-up done is important because our bodies are very good at adapting to new things. You may have some underlying injuries or may be prone to some serious injuries but you might not have noticed it because you don’t think about that in your day-to-day routine.
On the contrary, if you’ve been rather sedentary over the course of the year you might want to check the doctor for any underlying heart conditions and also check to see if you have any lower back issues. Most people with a sedentary lifestyle suffer from lower back pain. And that shouldn’t stop you from running unless this pain is too much to handle.
If you are a diabetic, I recommend you always carry a snack along with you.
2. Investing In The Right Equipment
This might seem unnecessary at first but I assure you that the right equipment will help you over the long term. The most important gear is obviously the right pair of shoes.
So how will you know which running shoes are the right ones for you?
It’s simple – any shoe that has a soft cushioning at the bottom and keeps your overall foot posture correct is the right pair of shoes for you. Most running shoes come with very good cushions at the bottom, making it almost effortless for you to run. This cushioning also helps lessen the impact your knees and pelvis take from running.
Make sure your running shorts, tights, or tops are made of lightweight wicking fibers. My recommendation is that you choose garments that stay dry no matter how much you sweat, this will make you more comfortable when running long distances. No one wants to run a 5k with sweat dripping off their t-shirts.
3. Never Skip Warm-up
Warming up before running may seem rather trivial but it is not to be taken for granted, I recommend you start your warm-up with some stretching exercises like the cowl stretch, high knees, side shuffles, jumping jacks, and 3 sets of the plank.
These warm-ups are important as they increase blood flow to your muscles, improve your posture, improves your overall performance during physical activities as well, increases your flexibility, helps decrease tension headaches, increases your range of motion, and most importantly reduces the chances of getting an injury to a great extent.
4. Stay Safe
While running always follow the traffic guidelines of your city, and I insist you carry an ID proof along with you in case of an unfortunate event of an accident so that you can be identified and taken to a hospital immediately.
5. Use the Run/Walk Method
I believe this is the best way to begin your running program. Always carry a timer with you, start with one minute of running followed by a one-minute walking interval and as you progress to intermediate levels keep decreasing the walking interval.
This is a great way to not get overwhelmed for many new runners and is the easiest way to gradually build your endurance. This method is also easy on your joints.
6. Know The Right Posture
By simply keeping the right posture you can run longer distances, improve your pace, conserve your energy and reduce your risk of injury to a great extent.
While running keep in mind that you have an upright posture, your head should be lifted, keep your shoulders relaxed, and maintain a neutral pelvis position.
While running over long distances you should make sure you don’t keep your shoulders too far forward as it tends to tighten the chest and restrict breathing.
Make sure you focus your eyes on the ground I recommend you focus your eyes about 10 to 20 feet ahead of you to keep a steady head position.
Your elbows should always be bent 90-degrees and your arms should and your arms should swing back and forth naturally from your shoulder joint.
6. Keep The Right Footstrike
The way your foot hits the pavement is called a footstrike. If you land on your toes then you are a toe runner while if you land on your heels you are a heel striker. Landing on your toe might cause tightness in your calves as a result of which you may develop shin pain.
If you land on your heels then you may be a heel striker which means that you might just be taking steps that are longer than they need to be, this can waste a lot of energy and may cause injury.
Professional coaches recommend that the correct way to run is if you land in the middle of your foot and then gradually roll to the front of your toes albeit you may want to experiment with different forms and see which me most comfortable to you.
7. Proper Nutrition
Your diet is mostly divided into three macros, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Before you run, I would recommend you do not have anything which has high levels of fats, proteins, and fiber. Carbohydrates on the other hand are much easier to digest.
Although carbs are easier to digest, I would recommend that you eat light before your running sessions, as running interrupts the digestion of your food and if you have excessive food before running it might cause indigestion. If you are going to run for longer distances like a marathon or a half marathon, make sure you consume energy gels to boost your energy levels.
A long run might cause your muscle glycogen levels to deplete for which I insist you have foods rich in protein within 30 min after you finish your run.
8. Proper Hydration
When you run you lose tremendous levels of water levels from your body in the form of sweat. If you are not careful about your fluid intake it may cause several health problems regarding dehydration. I insist you increase your water intake a week before you begin your running sessions.
I would suggest you do not rely on caffeine sources and stick to plain water, an hour prior to your run drink around 15 ounces of water. If your running routes do not have water you’ll have to carry your own water with you.
I insist you check out some fluid carriers online as they might prove to be helpful during your run. After your run is complete make sure you rehydrate yourself.