I signed up for my first 5K two years ago as a way to motivate myself to lose a few pounds. While it may seem as easy as putting your shoes on and running, here’s some of the tips I learned when I first started running that made all the difference!
1. Do not run in the wrong pair of shoes.
Having shoes that fit well, feel good, and fit your foot type is the most important thing you can make sure of when starting a new running routine. The first pair of shoes I ran in was a pair I had lying around the house that became too worn down. When I started racing, I went to my local running store and had my running stride analyzed. They let me try on lots of shoes and see what felt right. It’s easy to want to buy the flashiest and trendiest running shoes out there, but at the end of the day you want shoes that feel good and work for your feet. Be prepared to invest some money in a solid pair of shoes. Also a good rule of thumb is to replace your shoes after 250-500 miles.
As a new runner, if you go from running 0 to 25 miles or more a week, you may increase your chances of getting hurt. Besides increasing mileage, adding cross-training into your weekly workouts is key, especially strength training. Whether it is Zumba, yoga, Crossfit, swimming, or biking, have a few days of moving that doesn’t include running! It’s good to mix things up in your workouts and helps prevent overtraining injuries.
3. Stretch it out.
Stretching is so important for runners! It is one of the biggest things you can do to help prevent injury, especially if you are building mileage as a new runner. Stretching before a run warms the muscles up and can help loosen your legs up. Stretching after a run has been found to be more important because it starts the recovery process and helps pull and lengthen muscles that have become tight from the repetitive movement of running1. Some of my favorite stretches are leg swings, hamstring stretches, butt kicks, and calf stretches (google some stretches, if you are unsure!).
4. Remember to fuel your body.
Think of pre- and post-workout food as fuel for your runs. Pre-run, I like to eat something small and easily digestible like half of a protein bar before a shorter run or banana and toast with some nut butter before a longer run.
If you can’t stomach food before a run, try a sports drink or electrolyte-containing drink for some quick carbohydrates for energy. The most important thing to remember is to eat something that has carbohydrates and protein in it within 30 minutes after your workout as your body begins to recover. Also don’t be overwhelmed by nutrition products like gels and chews. Try different fuel and meals out before runs and find what works for you!
5. Do not focus on the numbers or other runners-run for you!
One of the most important things to remember as you start running is that you should do it for you. Run because it makes you happy, relieves stress, and gets your body moving. Don’t get caught up in what your watch or app says, your pace, how many miles you ran, or what place in you came in a race. Running isn’t worth it if it stops being fun!