Becoming a Runner
Running is my go to workout. It's something I try to do daily. Whether it's a short 30 min warm up, an interval workout on the track that makes me feel like my lungs will explode or, a hills workout which turns my legs into jello I'm always found running somewhere. The beauty of the sport is that it can be done anywhere and, depending on your pace, distance and, time you can target a plethora of muscles building in size, gaining endurance or, leaning out.
The most common thing I've noticed while talking to runners and non runners about running is how hard it is to get into running.While I'm no expert trainer and haven't ever won any major trophies or races, I have been running for about a decade now and, developed some tips to become the best runner you can be.
Get yourself the right running shoes // I know a lot of people say it doesn't matter what you're wearing just go out there and do it. And that's true for the most part but, NEVER for your feet. Running puts a lot of pressure on your feet and it's very easy to injure yourself. I've had my share of shin splints, strained muscles and tendentious. It's best to go to a running store like Road Runner or Potomac River Running (DMV local) and get fitted by an expert. These guys will fit you with the right shoe for how much you're running, the type of cushion you need, your pronation and, your arches. I'm someone with very high arches basically only my toes and heel touch the floor and if it weren't for arch supports I'd have achey knees of a 70 year old and probably surgery. So get the right shoes! Brand does not matter!
Run with proper form // This one is a little hard to do, I didn't realize for the longest time I ran in bad form until my trainer pointed it out. Heel striking can cause shin splints so land with your toes first. I know a lot of people say it doesn't matter but, I've learned it's best to run toe first. Also make sure your strides aren't over reaching this can also lead to hamstring injuries. So be sure your foot isn't extending further out than your knees. I found practicing my form was easiest when I ran on a treadmill that faced a mirror so I could watch my feet.
Always always always stretch // This is the most important thing ever for any athlete. Before and after every workout no matter what it is you need to spend at least 10-15min stretching. This loosens your muscles and gets blood circulating throughout your body. Making sure you aren't severely sore the next few days and you don't injure yourself. I've seen way too many torn ligaments and tendons only because they didn't stretch properly.
Be consistent // Being consistent is how you will get the results you want. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither are your muscles. It takes time for your legs, core and even, arms to adjust to the running lifestyle. The first week of running takes time, you will be sore but don't stop and don't give up. If you go running once every few weeks you will never build the muscle, the endurance or, the strength. I always recommend running 3-5 days a week. Also if you go even a week or two without running you will lose all the skill you've built up and have to start over again.
Alternate level of difficulty // Quickest way to burn yourself out and get a horrible injury is to go hard everyday. I'm not saying don't give it your all each day. But it's really best to alternate between easy and hard days. That way on the easy days your muscles have time to recover from the hard days without you never stopping a workout. Easy days can be long runs at a slower pace or long walks. Think warm up pace. Hard days are usually faster pace runs, hills workouts or, interval runs. You want to run your hardest and at a faster pace on the hard days.
Eat and drink properly // If you're going to train like a marathon runner you better eat like one too. Running burns a lot of calories. This means you need to eat a lot of calories too. Calories give you energy so you can be healthy and do your workouts. I NEVER recommend skimping on your nutrition. Eating a lot of good carbs and protein is vital for runners. And drink water! Those gym bros in the gym aren't drinking a gallon of water each da to show off, they're doing it because working our causes you to sweat and lose that much water.
Do Different Workouts // I've learned over the years mixing in different workouts to my running is key to making my times faster and building my endurance. If you only run and only do cardio your muscles get use to the workouts and don't build anymore. Kind of like reading the same book over and over again, you're never learning anything beyond that book. I like to add in yoga, pilates, barre, weight lifting, kick boxing and, plyometric workouts in addition to my runs.