Run toward fitness and health. Running is an effective, low cost approach to cardiovascular fitness and weight loss. You’ll burn an average of 100 calories every mile and all you need to get started is a pair of good shoes. As you run and build endurance, you’ll be lowering your blood pressure, building a strong heart and lungs, relieving stress and lowering your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Start slowly. You will most likely start by walking, running and walking until you build the necessary endurance to run without stopping. This simple approach of running as long as possible then walking to recover and running again is how EVERY runner started, don’t be embarrassed to begin this way. Your initial goal should be to run continuously, without walking for 20 minutes at least 3 days each week. As you progress in your training, try for 30 minutes daily no more than five days each week with a “long” run on Saturday or Sunday.
Here are 5 things you should know before you lace up your running shoes:
1. Running Shoes
Running shoes are not optional. A shoe designed and built for running and YOUR running style will absorb shock, support and protect your foot and help prevent injury. You can’t burn calories on the couch with your leg in a cast propped up on pillows.
Learn More: 10 Things Every Runner Should Know About Knees
2. Warm Up and Stretch
The best warm up for running is walking and then a slow jog. Calisthenics like jumping jacks or jumping rope work as well. Take a couple of minutes for some stretching. Warm up and stretch to increase the temperature and circulation to the muscles you are about to train.
Learn More: 7 Essential Stretching Exercises For Runners
3. Run, don’t sprint
As a beginner, building a base and increasing endurance, at a slower pace will help you reach your goals. A few minutes of all-out sprints will not provide the same training effect or calorie burn as 20 minutes at a pace slow enough to carry on a conversation. Slow down, start off with that run/walk program that alternates between running and walking until you can complete 20 minutes non-stop.
Learn More: Best Breathing Tips For Beginners While Running
4. Listen to your body
If your body is trying to tell you to stop, stop, recover and continue. Don’t risk overtraining and training injury as you first start out. Injury at this early stage will prevent progress, and most who are injured early rarely return to complete their running program. Take your scheduled rest days, your body needs this time to repair and recover.
5. Drink Water
Stay hydrated, it’s important regardless of the temperature. You need to drink even when it’s cold although your needs increase as the temperature increases. Keep your intake of sodas, colas and caffeine to a minimum – choose zero calorie water instead.
Bonus Tip – A fitness tracking watch or band is completely unnecessary and optional, but does add a fun and challenging aspect to your training. You can even find a device with coaching options, training programs and heart rate monitors.