Philosopher Lao Tzu once opined, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” While its subliminal meaning is to inspire us to complete life goals, it also holds true for a task as simple as learning to run. We all run, but running long distances to maintain fitness levels or for running a marathon entail a great deal of preparation and technique. However, beginners taking to running fail to take this into account, end up sustaining injuries and make running an unsustainable activity for themselves.
It is important that beginners understand that running isn’t just about putting on shoes and hitting the track. It requires adjusting themselves to the pace, perfecting their form and more. There are no secrets but just some simple strategies that can help anyone looking to get started.
- Start with run-walk intervals – Running is not something you can begin cold turkey. You need to ease into it. Here comes the run-walk method. It is the best way to acclimatize your body to running without taxing it or causing injury. Running doesn’t just work your cardiovascular system, it also places quite a lot of stress on your bones, joints and muscles. That is why taking short walk breaks during your run helps you from overstressing your musculoskeletal system and minimizes the risk of injuries like runner’s knee, etc. The run-walk method also helps you keep your breathing and pace under control. Try running for 30 seconds, then walking for 1 minute. Then repeat the same and over the weeks try increasing your run interval and decreasing your walk interval until you are running continuously without struggling.
- Check your running technique – Analyzing your running doesn’t mean you monitor every step you take. It requires you to have an overall idea of your form to help you run more efficiently and avoid injury. Here are some cues on how to run properly. Stand up tall – Thanks to our sedentary lifestyle, we end up leaning forwards most of the times. However, while running correct your posture, fix your gaze slightly ahead and keep your shoulders relaxed and chest open so that you can breathe freely. Engage your glutes and core – Building core strength will help you maintain an upright posture while running and help protect your lower back from the impact of your foot strikes. Strong glutes will help prevent knee pain and reduce low back soreness and power you for an uphill run. Swing your arms – Engage in a fluid, relaxed arm swing to make your strider productive. Step lightly – Cadence is the number of steps you take per minute. For beginners, a cadence of 72 – 82 is ideal. As you run, you can build this up to over 90.
- Training is essential – Running is an exercise you have to train for. To increase stamina, reduce risk of injury and avoid burnout a dynamic plan that includes a warm-up & cool down, strength training and mobility exercises is necessary. Take a few minutes before your workout to wake up & warm up your body with exercises like arm circles, leg swings and more. At the end of your run, stretch to recover and bring your heart rate back down. Build your upper body strength with exercises like squats, lunges and crunches. Also, incorporate mobility exercises like hip flexor stretches, kneeling lunges, runner’s stretch, squat-to-stand, shoulder blade squeezes, ankle mobility exercises to improve range of motion, improve performance and avoid injuries.
- Nutrition & Hydration – Your diet is an essential part of your running. It is obvious that you minimize the intake of processed junk foods. Include servings of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy proteins to support your body for your run. Stay hydrated by sipping water throughout the day. Don’t chug water before a run and eat one carb-rich snack half an hour before the run. Sip small amounts of water during the run and indulge in a protein-rich meal post the run.
Other tips to keep in mind are to buy a good pair of running shoes and finding comfortable breathable apparel.
For beginners, running can come with its fair share of aches and pains. Therefore, it is essential to keep a topical product like Zandu Fast Relief Gel or Spray handy to reduce the impact of injury. Zandu Fast Relief Gel and Spray are specifically designed to provide instant and long-lasting relief from pain in joints as well as muscle sprains, strains and more. However, if your injury persists for a longer time, it is best to consult your doctor for advice.