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Seven steps for running success

Published in General, For the Health of It Author: Kelijo Fernholz, Exercise Physiologist

There may not be a more simple sport to begin than running. All you need is a pair of shoes, an open road and you’re good to go. And at around 100 calories burned per mile, it’s a good activity for those trying to lose weight, keep their heart healthy or just stay in shape.

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But just because it’s easy to start, doesn’t mean it’s easy to keep going. Running can be an adjustment for your body and, at times, mentally exhausting.

Here are seven tips to help you start to run and stay with it.

  1. Take care of the prerequisites. First and foremost, talk to your health care provider before starting a running program if you haven’t done it before, if you are out-of-shape or overweight. Additionally, you should get the right shoes. Running shoes are different from cross-training shoes or those for other sports. And if you have high arches or flat feet, there are specific kinds of running shoes that would be better for you. If you are unsure of what type of shoe you may need, they can help you find the right ones at a running shoe store.
  2. Comfort is king. You can run in a cotton T-shirt, but a sweat absorbing polyester T-shirt can make your life a lot easier. Especially if you sweat a lot or if you plan on working out when it’s warmer and more humid. Socks can make a big difference in protection from blisters and overall foot comfort. For women, a properly-fitting sports bra is a must-have. Experiment with a few different brands or ask friends what they use. Try them out before you go running to make sure they are what you are looking for.
  3. Plan time to rest. When you first start, you should plan to run one day. Then walk or take the next day off. That will give your body time to recover. As your body gets used to the routine, you’ll be able to run more frequently.
  4. Make it a social activity. Plan to run regularly with a friend. You can keep each other accountable and make sure you keep up with your training. Also, keeping up a conversation while running will help take your mind off obsessing over the exact distance you’ve run and how fast you are going. And it’s also a good rule of thumb that if you can’t easily talk with someone while running, then you’re probably over-exerting yourself and need to slow your pace.
  5. Fuel your body. One of the great things about running is you can do it whenever it works best for your schedule. But regardless what routine works best for you, you should make sure you are properly hydrated and eating a variety of foods from all the food groups. Practice eating different things before a run to know what agrees with your stomach and what does not.
  6. Roll with the punches. When you first get started, remember that it is OK to take a walk break to help you catch your breath. Over time, your breaks will become shorter and less frequent. Also, not every day’s run is going to feel great. But just know that will be the case and don’t let it defeat you. Tomorrow is a new day and will probably go better.
  7. Set a goal. If you know of a race two or three months ahead of time, make a plan to run in it. Having a race in mind will help you stay with your training. And don’t focus on having to run from beginning to end. Take walking breaks during the race if you need them. Just focus on finishing and enjoying yourself. Working out is supposed to be fun after all.