WARNING – what you are about to read may lead to a new addiction. If you want to start running, or have been thinking about lacing your shoes back up after a hiatus, this post is for you.
Getting back into running or getting started can be equally as exciting as it can be overwhelming. However, once you overcome that sensation you will not only enjoy getting in better shape and feeling energized but also, perhaps moreso, building lifelong friendships which transcend cultures, socioeconomic levels and the stresses of life. The running community is full of people who are welcoming no matter how fast or slow you are. We all share a common bond as we make sacrifices to train and push ourselves to the limit time after time. Even though it may feel like a daunting task to get started; once you begin you will find a whole new community to support you through the challenges and share in your victories.
Below are a few common questions I get from folks testing out the running waters:
How should I get started and how far should I run as I get started?
First thing to remember is that you need to be patient and honor your body. As a new runner you are more than likely limited by your endurance. For this reason be patient with the first few weeks as they serve to build your aerobic capacity. This is simply done by running more consistently at a conversational/easy pace. Begin with a 15 to 30 minute run and asses from there. Be kind do to yourself and take as many walk breaks as you need to maintain that conversational pace. You can focus on speed later. With consistency, after a few short weeks you will notice improvements in your endurance.
Once you have a solid foundation you can then start to slowly increasing your run duration and adding a little variety into your training. Just be careful not to increase speed or distance too quickly as this can lead to injuries. Simply put, in the beginning, less is more. For more detail information and assistance on ramping up your milage feel free to contact us at Prana Endurance, we would be happy to provide guidance for your particular situation.
Now what? I want to get faster!
As you start to build consistency in your running you will become more efficient as a runner and start increasing the pace. By this time most runners have set their eyes on an upcoming race to participate in and keep motivated. A good way to keep increasing your fitness is to include some variety to your training. Doing so will not only increase your speed, but also work on your strength and aerobic capacity. A safe way to start is by adding strides and hill work into your workout routine. These simple drills will help develop the foundation for your speed work which comes in the form of intervals, fartlek and tempo later in your training.
Should I race for time or just to finish?
Having a loose goal in mind can be a good thing even for beginner runners. It helps keep you motivated on those early morning runs and as you grow as an athlete. As you begin to consider a goal, it is important to ensure that the goal you choose is a realistic one. For example, if you are training for a half marathon, do some 10k’s and 5k’s as part of your training. This will mentally prepare you for the race day logistics and completing the event will help you see tangible progress in your training. It will also help gauge your fitness and what a realistic goal might be. When training for longer endurance distances such as a marathon the goal should be to go into the race the most prepared and confident as possible and have fun finishing the event. The time to set Personal Records (PR’s) will happen as you become a more seasoned athlete.
How can I avoid running injuries?
Improper training can lead to injuries and avoiding your body’s warning signs can lead to serious chronic issues. For this reason injury prevention should be the top priority for a beginner runner. One major component to injury prevention is having a personalized plan tailored to showcase your strengths and improve your weaknesses. The plan should slowly ramp up your run volume, include strength work and take into account any previous injuries or natural body imbalances. At a minimum a beginner’s plan should include a proper warm-up routine composed of light lunges and dynamic stretching such as leg swings. Taking five minutes to warm-up prior to your run will pay dividends in the end. Just as important as the warm-up is the cool-down… especially as you start to increase mileage and speed. Get into a routine early in your running career and it will be a long and memorable one.
Running does not need to be hard, and with the proper mindset and plan you can accomplish things you never thought possible. With that said, there’s no need to spin your wheels, there are plenty of resources to help you get started. If you are looking for guidance or a personalized plan we at Prana Endurance Training would be happy to assist.
Frank Campo is the founder and head coach of Prana Endurance Training. After running and triathlon changed his own life he realized that helping others reach their full potential had become his true passion. He coaches athletes of all levels providing personalized training to ensure that they achieve their highest potential. You can follow Coach Frank on Facebook to get training tips and articles.