It’s the start of a new year, and most of us tend to take up something new or challenging in a bid to get more fit and healthy. Running can be a fantastic hobby to take up as it’s accessible for all price points, it’s a sociable activity and can be done almost anywhere. When you’re first getting started it can be confusing to know how far to go or how long to stay outside for, but we’re here to guide you on how to start running in a safe way. Starting off in the right way will not only help improve your fitness in the short-term, but it will also help with your motivation and love for the sport in the long-term. If you’re already a regular runner, you may wish to check out some of our other running articles, such as this one on IT Band Syndrome.
Many of us start new challenges for different reasons, and often running can be taken up as a way to lose excess weight, or to train for something specific like a Spring 5K race or a marathon. There may be difficulties when you start, as with starting anything new, but there are things that you can do to make this initial process easier.
Training for a Race
If you’re taking up running to train for a specific race like a half marathon or marathon, you’ll need to be even smarter in how you train. Preparing early is key to crossing the finish line strong. One of the main problems that runners face when starting out to train for a race, is choosing a plan that is too intense to be a realistic goal. Nearly everyone can run a marathon with the right training plan, as it teaches you how to increase your distance and time at a safe rate. However, choosing a plan that has you running 5-6 days a week when the furthest you’ve ran is for the bus, may not be a smart move. We see a lot of patients start up activities like running in January, followed by an influx of patients in late January or early February who have injured themselves by going in too hard.
The difficulty in running is knowing when to take it easy, and even seasoned runners are guilty of not following their own advice here. Your respiratory system will acclimatise to increased exercise extremely quickly, so don’t worry if you feel like running to just the end of the road is difficult at first – you will improve. Once you have improved, it can be tempting to think you can go further, quicker, but in reality your musculoskeletal frame will acclimatise much slower – meaning you may feel like you can go further, but that’s when the risk of injury increases. If you take it slow, not only will you be able to enjoy the sport with less chance of injury, but you will also likely stay more motivated in the long-run. There are also many training guides that recommend going slow to become better over time. There are many forms of ‘heart rate training’ that are quite popular at the minute – these guide you to run at a certain heart rate level that will usually be a comfortable pace if you feel like you might be susceptible to pushing yourself too hard.
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