Running for beginners – it is important to start, but with your head!
The snow has melted, the sun is shining behind the clouds and warms us up, nature is slowly waking up and all this invites us to go out from our comfortable homes. Spring conditions are perfect for activities in nature. You can go for an easy walk, ride a bike or start running. But be careful, especially if you have spent the winter months resting and regenerating your body. The choice of activity, intensity and frequency should be appropriate, since you are just beginning.
For some people, running seems to be a completely natural form of movement and in most cases they don’t pay special attention to the running technique itself, appropriate footwear and diet before and after the activity. Absolutely too little time is usually devoted to planning the program of activities. So, before we go running, it is necessary to make sure to have a proper running shoes, physical performance and prepare a program suitable for our current state. An important motivation is a realistically set goal based on the real abilities of the individual.
As with any physical activity, we must make sure that the body can slowly adapt to the changed life rhythm, to a different movement, to a different type of effort and, last but not least, to the different needs required by this or that activity. It’s important to start, but always start with your head and gradually. This will make the start easier, you will be more likely to persist in the activity for a longer period of time, you will be less likely to be injured and exhausted, and your progress and satisfaction will be greater.
How to start?
The frequency and intensity of running depends on how ready you are, your desires and current abilities. In order to make the running program as easy as possible, and to start the activities as soon as possible, we have prepared a 10-week and 8-week running programmes for beginners. The programmes are indicative and flexible, so the individual can choose what’s most suitable for him/her and adapt the programme according to his/her readiness, wishes and abilities, but as already said, at least at the beginning, do not exaggerate. Slowly, but surely.
How often to run?
It is recommended to run 3 to 5 times a week, and to hydrate and nourish the body with the necessary nutrients during these days. It is important that you are committed to the set goal and persist despite the occasional lack of motivation. On the other hand, the body should definitely be given enough rest. So, listen to your body, try to find motivation to make a progress every day, allow yourself to rest when you need to, but expect maximum effort and perseverance from yourself.
In order to protect your body form possible injuries, it’s necessary to choose good running shoes with appropriate cushioning and stability. Also, before start running, spend some time on proper running techniques, and make sure to warm up and stretch well before the activity.
Before you start running, warm up for at least 5 minutes. Start warming up by walking, and gradually speed up. While walking include various body movements, but not too demanding or too intense. The purpose of warming up is to prepare the whole body for the more intense activity that follows. After warming up, spend a few minutes stretching, while ensuring adequate stability. Make sure to warm up and stretch your lower body muscles, but keep in mind that running is a complex movement that requires the cooperation and coordination of all muscle groups, so don’t forget to stretch your upper body as well.
In order to increase the effect of running, improve physical fitness and have minimal chances of injuries due to imbalance in strength and poor mobility, we recommend you, in addition to running, to exercise for strength and mobility. Strength training can be performed during the run, after the run or on the days off. The same goes for stretching. You can exercise with your own body weight or with additional loads. As you perform strength exercises regularly, your body will gradually become more ready, making your movements more coordinated and easy during the run. Particular attention should be paid to stretching the hip and knee flexors, which often can be dysfunctional due to the predominantly sedentary lifestyle of most people, and are often the cause of back pain.
Both programmes are progressive, at the beginning the predominant part of the exercise is walking, and running represents only a small part of the activity, while the closer we get to the end of the program and the set goal, the greater part of the exercise is running. Running should be so fast, at least in the first weeks, that you can talk smoothly during the run and breathe through your nose without any major problems. The intensity of the activity should be such that after the training you feel full of energy, and definitely not exhausted and with muscles and joint pains that do not go away for the next 3 days.
When you reach the first goal, for example 20 or 30 minutes of continuous running, set yourself a new one that will be your new challenge and will motivate you. A new goal can be to maintain your physical fitness, more intense running, longer continuous running, interval running training, and so on. The first km or two are the hardest, after that running becomes more easy, as long as you don’t give up.
Before you start with your running programme, determine the time when you will carry out the activity and write it in a visible place, as this will make it easier and more strict to stick to the programme. Be aware that bad days are coming, but they should not take away your will on the way to the goal. Never rush headlong towards a goal, as reckless decisions and rushing usually lead to injuries, loss of motivation, and finally giving up. Since it is easier to run with company, inspire your partner or other family members, as well as friends, and this exercise will become a reason to socialize – enjoyable and useful. Sneakers on your feet and running programme in your hands, and let’s go!
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