Running is a great way to lose weight and build your cardiovascular strength and endurance. Running for beginners may seen challenging, but there are ways to ease into it so that it isn’t too hard. It is possible to move from being a newbie runner to an experienced runner in minimal time.
Ease into It
Easing into running helps the body to slowly adapt and not become overworked. Someone who wishes to run can head outside and run as long as they can before getting out of breathe, and then stop. If this is done five to six days a week, the endurance will build and soon the runner will find himself lasting for half an hour to an hour at a time without running out of breath.
Stretching after every run ensures that beginners wont feel too much pain in the day following a run. Simple stretches like bending down to touch the toes for 30 seconds can make a world of difference. Runners should research the various methods of stretching to make sure that they are loosening up the various leg muscles.
Buy the Proper Gear
A big mistake that many beginning runners make is to run without the proper gear. Shoes made for runners is an essential. Without proper shoes, running can quickly lead to knee and ankle injuries. Shoes should provide proper ankle and arch support. These shoes may be a bit expensive, but using shoes without support can quickly kill any efforts to run.
Make It a Hobby, Not a Chore
Making running fun turns the activity into a hobby instead of a chore. This might mean a runner wearing an MP3 player to listen to her favorite songs while she runs. Maybe it means running only on scenic routes to enjoy the look and smells of nature. Some people choose to run with a buddy. This is a good option, as it gives runners someone to talk to and something to take their mind off of the task at hand.
Even if this sport is exhausting in the first few days or weeks, it will eventually become easier and more enjoyable. Running for beginners completely shocks the body into adapting to extreme cardiovascular activity, in turn strengthening the heart and raising the endurance. Someone who wants to run on a regular basis should just stick to it, and soon they will begin to see their body change.
Actually I’m not sure we had a summer this year in the U.K. but anyway – it’s definitely becoming colder, windier and wetter so winter must be coming soon.
Many of us give up exercising outdoors in winter (and I must confess that I take to the great indoors for exercise most days come November). But if you can bear to live with the initial chill of getting out your front door you will reap the many benefits of winter exercise.
And the best one?
You will burn more calories than in the summer!
The thing is you will stay cooler so that you can work flat out without getting overheated. This means your workout will feel like less effort and you will work harder. Plus keeping warm itself burns calories – so a workout which feels like less effort (because you stay cool) will actually burn more calories than in the summer.
For the best effect, wear layers which you can take off as you warm up and start with just enough clothing so that when you go outside you feel cool but not so cold you’re shivering while you do your warm up.
If getting out there is a major deal in cold or wet weather, time management coach Mark Forster has a great trick for that. He motivates himself by setting a goal just to Get Outside
1. Follow a Training Plan
If you have an effective and well thought out plan to follow (which matches your level of fitness) you are more likely to keep to it and less likely to injure yourself by doing too much too soon.
Don’t have a plan? Find one on the net like these great resources for example…
Cool Running Couch-to-5k training plan (This is the one I’m currently following – Week 6 day 2 just now)
Alternatively borrow a book from the library or pay for a session with a personal trainer to help you formulate a workout schedule for the coming weeks.
2. Vary It
Cardio can get very boring if you do the same activities and use the same machines or follow the same routes every time – and besides, if you keep on doing the same old routine it does not challenge your body as well as it could.
Make the effort to switch around your activities, equipment and environment. Vary the intensity too – some long slower sessions, some interval training, some medium intensity, medium length sessions too.
3. Entertain Yourself
Add to your enjoyment by using music or tapes while you work out. Watch TV at the gym. A long session on the treadmill can go very quickly with your favorite show. Don’t forget to focus on what you’re doing too though.
4. Protect Yourself
Keep yourself safe and free from injury by wearing the right clothes and footwear and keeping to well-populated areas. If there’s a lot of traffic go easy on the music so you can hear as well as see vehicles approaching. Let someone know where you are going.
Wait a couple of hours after eating a full meal before working out. If you are too hungry to work out a light snack such as a banana can be enough to satisfy you before your session. Also you may find you get more out of an early morning work out if you have a light breakfast first.
If you want the full fat-burning effect of a cardio workout don’t eat straight after your session but wait an hour or so before having a meal.
6. Stay Hydrated
For a normal cardio session plain water is best. Before, during (depending on the length of your session) and after. Avoid sugar loaded sports drinks – you don’t need them. Good performance requires hydration not sugar.
Don’t forget to do your stretches after your workout to avoid soreness. Doing a lot of cardio (and building muscle) can reduce flexibility – so stretching is essential. Also taking up something like yoga and practising on non-cardio days can be particularly beneficial in maintaining flexibility.
Bonus Tip : The main thing to have an effective cardio workout is just to “Do It” because chances are you will feel great whenever you do and not so great when you have avoided getting out there and getting it done for a week. Once you have a plan, log your workouts so that you can see you are making progress. A heart rate monitor too is a great tool for seeing how far you have come before you can even feel the difference.
I told you with the (slightly) warmer weather I’d end up running again (see Sporadic Running).
I can feel my knees and ankles protesting already – but it IS for a good cause.
Last year’s running spurt was caused by entering the 5k all ladies Race for Life in aid of Cancer Research encouraged by a few friends. And the same friends have persuaded me it’s a good idea this year too. As my Dad died of cancer in October last year, it will be especially poignant.
Thing is – I haven’t run since last year’s race – so I’ll be starting my training plan from the beginning again with the cool running couch to 5k plan – I only have the 8 weeks so I’d better get to it.
Anyone care to join me? Actually Race for Life takes place all round the UK at around the same time so it’s something to aim for if you live here in the next 2 months (and if you live elsewhere there will be tons of events no doubt too).
If you’re feeling under pressure then its easy to say you don’t have time for exercise but even a brief walk or run in the fresh air will help clear your head and mean you get more done overall.
A slightly longer exercise session where you put in a bit of effort releases endorphins – those feel-good brain chemicals that make you feel wonderful and is an even better stress-reliever.
Any exercise with a rhythmic pace such as running, walking or swimming can be quite meditative in itself – especially if you do it alone and let your thoughts go wherever they want. If your thoughts are in turmoil however, calm yourself by focusing on your movements and your breathing.
Far from tiring you out or being a time-killer, exercise can mentally and spiritually rejuvenate you so much, you definitely don’t want to miss out.
And a crisis point, the very time when we tend to shun exercise the most – is the time when we most need it.
My niece just came back from a long weekend in New York with a great gizmo for running – a nike + ipod sport kit – and it seems to be just right to improve your fitness motivation – fun too.
Apparently these have been around for a while and the whole thing has just passed me by. (Well, I AM in a non-running phase just now)
For once the technology seems pretty easy to master even for those of use still working out how to record something on the VCR long after everyone else has moved onto Tivo or Sky+
Anyway this kit my neice bought has a sensor to fit in your Nike+ shoes and then a receiver to plug into your ipod nano (has to be a nano) and away you go running.
Actually though my niece has these anyway, you don’t really need the expensive shoes just something to fasten the to them that you can buy for next to nothing (see here for a shoe pouch you can use as an alternative).
Once you get going, your ipod nano tracks your running time, distance, pace and calories burned and at the end of your workout you can transfer your workout data to itunes and nikeplus.com to and see your progress in full color and graphic detail. You can get voice alerts during your workout too where the music neatly fades in and out around the alert.
Online you can set challenges, goals and resolutions to keep you motivated.
But the best thing is downloading upbeat music to keep you going – there are special selections at itunes and my niece has a great victory song she uses every time. As she says “I ran 7 miles yesterday because of my ipod – I never did that before”.
Definitely worth checking out if you are a runner. You can buy the Ipod Nike+ kit at Amazon.
You can save money in lots of ways when it comes to exercising (see 27 ways to get fit for free) but buying good shoes is one area where you should not compromise.
The wrong shoes can affect your performance and cause injury.
Athletic shoes need to
- fit your feet properly
- feel comfortable
- offer support
- be flexible where required
- offer protection for your bones, joints and muscles by absorbing shock
- keep your feet in a good position for whatever sport you are doing
Do You Need Shoes Designed for each Activity?
Some activities need specialist equipment, for example climbing or hill walking and if you are involved in these you have to buy what you need.
For more general activities like running or tennis it might not be so obvious. Can you get away with a cross-training shoe?
If you run, you should always wear running shoes which are designed to absorb shock – they have more cushioning than other athletic shoes and they support the forward motion without too much side to side flexibility.
For other activities, it depends how often you take part and what your budget is – three times a week or more and it definitely becomes worth investing in shoes designed to meet the needs of your particular sport.
If you do a mix of activities such as aerobics, walking and tennis, a cross-trainer may be a good option – they are supportive for the whole range of motion in the foot.
Where to Buy Sports Shoes
It’s best to choose a specialist retailer. When I chose my running shoes my local running shop video-taped me running on a treadmill in several pair of shoes – and some of them which felt quite comfortable when I put them on, rubbed the skin and hurt when I ran in them.
They also assessed the action of my feet for over- and underpronation both from the video and the wear patterns on my old shoes and gave me the right kind of shoes for my running style. I have normal pronation it appears but I’m still not sure I liked looking at myself running on the video (but I got over it).
Even if you don’t need a specialist running shop – look for a shop where they know their products so that you can get plenty of advice before you buy. Get the size checked too – you should have plenty of room to wriggle your toes and the heel should not be slipping when you wear your usual sports socks. The best size is often larger than your usual shoe size.
When to Buy
Shop for shoes in the afternoon as your feet become larger as the day goes on.
When to Replace your Athletic Shoes
Replace your shoes after about a year even if they show no signs of wear – as the cushioning and support will be getting less effective. (You may need to replace running shoes earlier than that if you do a lot of running – every 500 miles and walking shoes every 1000 miles).
Every year or so I decide to get fit by running rather than whatever I am doing at the time (like walking or rebounding or stepping or nothing).
Last year, I even trained for a 5K race and enjoyed the whole training and event.
At the end of the race I would even say I was euphoric what with all the spectators clapping and the happy hormones kicking in.
And then after the race I never ran again.
What’s the problem then with running being a regular part of my fitness routine?
Well, it seems that no matter how gradually I train, how well cushioned and fitted my shoes, how good my running style, I end up with sore ankles and sometimes knees.
And that’s just running 3 times a week for 30 minutes. At times (although not all the time) I get so sore that I can’t even walk properly and am out of action for a few days at least.
And so that creates a bit of a conflict.
You see fitness for me is about being healthy not just fit and I suspect that running is not actually that good for me.
After a while, of course, I forget about the injuries, the slightly warmer and less rainy weather of spring returns and running starts to look like a good idea again.
So if you hear I’ve taken up jogging again don’t be surprised. But also don’t be too shocked to hear I have given up again after a few months despite all the motivation tricks I know about “just doing it”.