How to Get Started

Establish Goals

Before you get out the door, it can be helpful to figure out why you’d like to run. Is it for fitness? Is it for weight loss? Or do you want to tackle a race with friends? Knowing where you want to go will guide you. If you’re running for fitness or weight loss, you can carve out a bit of time per week to run a set distance. If it’s about finishing an upcoming race, it may require a more regimented schedule. Setting and achieving goals does more than just push you to become a better runner. Running has a way of spilling over and boosting your self-confidence in many facets of life.

Park-running-tallWhere to Start

There are many places to get started, you may feel most comfortable charting a course near you. Set a distance you are comfortable with and map it out. Geodistance.com is a website that uses Google to map out walking, running and cycling distances. It may be a good idea to chart the running course in a loop that starts and finishes near your home.

Another valid option is to find a local park or neighbourhood and run around it for a number of laps.

Dress Appropriately

Dress according to the weather. When we run our bodies generates heat and sweat, so dress slightly cooler than if you were going for a walk. Cotton clothing can be used, but activewear made from materials like polyester, spandex, and wool is often preferred. These materials better help runners to regulate their body temperature and stay “relatively” dry. Wear shoes that you can run in. Running shoes have spongy soles that absorb the impact from pounding the pavement, taking the stress of your joints, tendons, and ligaments. If you have athletic shoes that can be laced or strapped snuggly, these will suffice until you pursue running more frequently.

With this essential attire you’ll be ready to begin your running adventure. If you’re wondering what the bare minimum requirements to head out on a more regular basis are we’ve got you covered.

Nutrition

Make sure you are properly hydrated with water before anticipated runs. It’s not typically necessary to hydrate during shorter runs of an hour or less, with the exception being extremely hot or humid days. If you do bring water try not guzzle it down, as doing so may cause abdominal stitches. Instead, take small, periodic sips throughout your runs.

There are several general rules for eating before running. We recommend giving yourself at least 30 minutes after eating small meals, and 1-2 hours for larger or more complex meals. However, you also do not want to be hungry before a run. Try to time your meals. Don’t be disappointed if this takes trial and error. I often have a very light snack 30 minutes before my morning runs, this avoids the need to wait a long time after a big breakfast. Certain foods and drinks can affect each runner differently. Find something that works for you, and stick to it.

Pace Yourself

Any distance can be conquered with appropriate physical and psychological preparation. Acknowledge that challenging yourself will be stressful, and that each person aspires to run in different ways. Running should feel good, so listen to your body. If you feel weak, lightheaded, or dizzy take a break by walking. Once you regain your composure you may begin running again (run/walk method). You want to associate enjoyment with running, so ease into it without pushing yourself past the point of fun.

What to Expect

Your first few runs may be unfamiliar, and you may feel out of breath. This will change as your body adapts, and your cardiovascular endurance improves. If it feels like you can’t catch your breath, try slowing down your pace or even taking a walking break. If you’re new to this don’t worry, with some practice it won’t take long to become a proficient runner. Another thing to keep in mind is that you will experience soreness and aches in the days that follow. This is normal as your body adjusts to the stresses of running. Your body is building stronger muscles for next time.

The only way to experience it all is to get out there and run. Go for it!

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Benefits of Running

 

Overall Health and Well-being: Running can boost your overall health by reducing stress, cholesterol, and unwanted bodyweight. It also stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin in our brains, which can improve mood, self-esteem, and lessen the symptoms of depression.

 

Low Cost: Although running can be an expensive sport, very little need be spent to enjoy the benefits of running. In comparison to sports that need specific equipment and seasonal fees, running only necessitates footwear that you can run in. If your neighbours begin criticizing you for your naked runs, some athletic apparel may also be warranted.

 

Convenience: Running is convenient in that you dictate when and where you want to run. When considering work and family commitments, it is always possible to schedule time to run that is convenient for you. It can also be fun to run while travelling or on vacation.

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Chris

Chris

Aspiring runner, triathlete, and exercise junkie for more than a decade. Chris mostly provides technical writing for Aspiring Runner by examining evidence-informed running practices.

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