5 Running Tips for Beginners
Source: Annette Shaff/Vox Though it may not be as widely covered and talked about as other sports (which may be the reason why gambling in running is still not very common), running has a long history that dates back to the very first Olympics, where the first event was a foot race. Since then, running has continued to be a popular form of athletics, while also becoming a standard part of many people’s fitness routines. An evening run can be hugely beneficial to our physical well-being, from developing leg and core muscles to encouraging heart health, but did you know that it’s also useful for mental health? Fresh air and endorphins are a potent combination for combatting stress and depression, helping to keep us relaxed, happy and ready for the challenges of daily life. Here are five quick tips to improve your running ritual and get the most from your evening laps!
We’ve all heard the phrase “walk before you can run” and it holds true when setting out on your first excursion. Ambitious fitness fanatics may have marathons in mind, but throwing yourself in the deep end is a sure-fire way to injure yourself, put your body under stress or, in many cases, become frustrated and give up. Start with smaller distances and shorter periods, then slowly build up the intensity of your exercise. Quick twenty-minute intervals are a great way to start. Once you feel your body getting used to the routine, you can increase the time or make the route more challenging (save up-hill runs and tricky terrains until you’re confident in your ability).
Know your limits
Any exercise puts the body under strain, so you need to be aware of that when you start out. Aches and pains are normal when you start working out new muscles for the first time, but you need to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you ignore long-lasting pains or severe stress that you are placing on your legs, you could be putting yourself in danger of serious health risks, such as stress fractures, torn ligaments and more. Be careful, be attentive and be kind to your body; when things get tough, take a time out and allow yourself to bounce back for next time. Source: Natacha Océane/YouTube
After-care is key
Picture the scene: you’ve just come back from a killer run. You’ve managed a new best time, found a picturesque new route (complete with Instagram-worthy viewpoints to document your progress!) and you’re feeling pumped. The endorphins are flowing and you feel ready to take on the world. It’s a brilliant feeling, but you want that to last. That means taking care of your body and mind when your run is done. When muscles ache, treat yourself to an ice bath or heating pad, which can soothe and relieve the pain and help them to heal. Get lots of rest and drink plenty of water. Sleep helps the body to repair itself after strain, so a good night’s rest is key after exercising. Dehydration, on the other hand, poses a major threat to your well-being, with side effects ranging from dry skin and irritability to dizziness and, in extreme cases, fainting. Bring a bottle of water with you when you run and make sure to drink a glass of water when you get home. These after-care tips keep your body in top form and ready to tackle the track again tomorrow.
Short steps = big success
Our natural instinct when running long distances can be to take the longest possible strides, thus covering the greatest amount of distance with each length. However, despite this being the common conception, it has been proven that taking shorter steps frequently is preferable and can actually improve your time. Long strides tend to take more effort; when we land, it takes a little more work to regain balance and so we are slower in taking our next step. With short steps, we can recover quickly and keep moving more efficiently, while also minimising strain on our muscles and reducing our risk of injury. The ideal pace is between 160 and 180 steps per minute, so think smaller to perform bigger.
Variety is the spice of life
While routine is comforting, monotony is not. Keep your runs interesting by varying your route or the time of day at which you run. A morning run along the beach can be breath-taking, but, over time, with too much repetition, it loses its allure. However, running along the beach one day, then through the mountains the next – why not follow this with a woodland trail or an urban mile? – keeps your brain engaged and prevents you from becoming bored or giving up on your running rituals. These tips will help you to get the most from your routine and to improve your running experience. If you’re mad about sports, you may also like these five unusual sports.