Beginner Running Tips: Walking into Running

July 12, 2013



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Beginnersrunningtips

If losing weight is one of your personal goals for this year, running is among the most effective exercises to burn calories and cut extra inches off your middle.  Easing into stride and starting out slow are both keys to success in your mission to shrink a few sizes by spring break.  As always, check with your medical doctor before beginning any exercise program, or if you have concerns about your weight.  

Avoid sore feet.  Get the right running shoes.

Choosing the right sneaker for your treks on the treadmill is the first step toward running from obesity.  You wouldn’t use runners on a construction site, so don’t wear steel toe boots to the gym.  Choosing the running sneaker that’s best for you is essential to preventing injuries and the adverse effects of such muscle aches as shin splints.  Often, arch support insoles can be helpful in providing additional support and shock absorption needed for walking or running, particularly on hard surfaces such as tracks and treadmills.  

Stretch it out

When you arrive at the gym on day one, stretching should precede your first steps on the treadmill.  Loosening up your muscles minimizes the risk of an injury, stopping you and your progress toward a lower number on the scale.  Push up against a wall at a 45-degree angle with flat heels to stretch out those hamstrings and quadriceps. This position can also help you stretch out that Achilles Tendon and your calves.   The hurdle stretch also prepares your calves and knees for the work ahead.  While in a seated position, push one foot outstretched against a wall.  While reaching for the wall and your lead leg, pull the other leg as far back as you comfortably can.  After 30-45 seconds, switch sides and stretch the other leg.  

Take it slow

You’re stretched out and ready to remove the roundness factor from your shape.  Begin with a five minute brisk walk, about 3.5 mph.  By blasting out of the gate at 14 mph, you’ll only be opening up your stride for strains, sprains, or a premature onset of fatigue.  This warm up session will also allow your legs to slide into the striding motion that will make up the meat of your time on the treadmill. For the first few weeks, jogging should make up the bulk of your workout.  Following your five minute walk-off, increase your speed in .5mph increments to a point as high as you’re comfortable with.  A pace of six miles per hour translates to a ten minute mile, and this should be a step goal for you if you haven’t run since high school.  A jogging rate of speed such as this will allow a balance between testing your endurance and perfecting the form of your stride.  

Watch your technique

Running form is very important as it affects both your speed and endurance.  Proper running technique begins with breathing, as exchanging oxygen effectively helps conserve energy.  To avoid chest cramps, inhale air through your nose and release it out of your mouth.  This keeps fresh air in your lungs and allows you to sustain pace for longer periods of time. Stride, the distance between each step has direct correlations to both speed and stamina.  A wider stride results in covering more ground in fewer steps using less energy.  To open the gap between each time your feet contact the running surface, push off the ground or treadmill belt using only the front half of your foot.  Between each strike, extend your legs to stretch the span of your stride.  These movement modifications allow you to go further without going faster. During your run, most of the workload lies on your legs.  Arm movement is just as important.  Just like on playground swings, pumping the arms gives your body more momentum and makes acceleration seem easier. Swinging the arms also creates a natural rhythm between your breathing, stride, and pace.  

Cool it down

Much like in the beginning of your workout, you should finish with a short walk and stretching session.  This gives your muscles a gradual return to their relaxed state.  It also protects you against joint pain, soreness, and long term injuries that could threaten future exercise sessions.  

Build slowly

Once your body has adjusted to a new running program, try a slight increase in the intensity of your plan.  Such subtle step ups as a half mile per hour faster pace or adding five minutes to your endurance run will accelerate the slimming effects of your work.  It will also motivate you to keep hitting the treadmill, track, or trail. Regardless of when or where you run, take these reminders.  Set reasonable goals.  Running a four minute mile on day one won’t happen, so don’t set that treadmill at 15 mph expecting to hold that rate of speed for all 5,280 feet.  If you don’t meet your expectations right away, don’t get discouraged.  Finally, don’t make the mistake of inclining the intensity your workouts too much too fast.  Doing so will likely cause strains and muscle tears.  Keeping a gradual, relaxed, and balanced physical and emotional attitude will go mental miles in the success in your running future.


Dr. Thomas Lembo
Dr. Thomas Lembo

Author

Hello! I'm the creator of "Samurai Insoles", and work to rid the world of foot pain everyday.