1. Invest in the Right Running Shoes
Our feet are our foundation: They, along with our joints, absorb two to three times our body weight with every step. (Pretty impressive, huh?) Sneakers that don’t fit properly or provide enough support or cushioning can result in knee, hip and back aches, and even sideline you with a more serious injury. So finding the right pair of running shoes for your tootsies is essential. Go to a specialty running store, where they can determine the best shoe for you based on your arch, past injuries, alignment and stride. Trust us, it’s worth the extra cash to get the right sneaks.
2. Get Some Gear
The right apparel will not only help you look the part (that’s half the fun, right?), but it will also keep you dry and comfortable during your run. Look for clothes that are made from synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester, which wick moisture away from your body, keeping you cool and dry even as you sweat harder. But steer clear of cotton, which absorbs moisture and can cause rubbing and chafing.
3. Start Slowly
No matter how excited you are to get going, always start at the place where you are now, not where you want to be. Starting too hard and too fast is a recipe for injury and burnout. Instead, gradually build up your stamina and speed. If you’re lacing up your sneakers for the first time since high school gym class, start off with a running and walking routine. Begin by running for one minute, then walking for three, and build up from there, gradually increasing the amount of time you run, while decreasing the amount of time you walk. And at the outset, focus on time rather than distance.
4. Give Your Body a Rest
You don’t want to begin by running every day either or you won’t give your muscles a chance to recover. Plus, too little rest can lead to injury. So start off running just a few times a week or every other day.
5. Set Small Goals
If you’re a running newbie, your goal shouldn’t be to run a marathon or you’ll get discouraged quickly (or injure yourself from pushing your body too hard). Aim to reach realistic milestones based on what shape you’re in when you start, whether that’s to run a mile, or to build up to three, or to run without stopping for 10 minutes or 20.
6. Keep at It
Once you get going, keep it going! It’s important to recognize that some days will feel better than others. Just as with everything else in life, we have good runs and bad runs. Don’t assume you’re not cut out for running because you can make it only to the end of your street on the first day. Keep at it and slowly but surely you’ll begin to see and feel improvements.
Nestpert: Jennifer Gill, MPH, an RRCA-certified distance running coach (CoachJenn.com).
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