Ever see other moms running and thought to yourself, "I wish I could do that!" Well, we are here to tell you that anyone can become a runner. Sure, some people are born with more natural athletic abilities than others, but running is a sport that pretty much anyone can do. It can be learned. No matter your age, size, weight, height or level of fitness right now, you can teach yourself how to run. Maybe you've always wanted to complete a marathon, or perhaps even a 5k with some friends? Maybe you want to lose a few pounds? Maybe you just want to challenge yourself a bit, or just have a "hobby" that gives you a few minutes of alone time? Whatever the reason is, NOW is a great time to turn yourself into a runner. Here are some tips on running for beginners.
There are all sorts of runners out there: ones that run races, and ones that do not; ones that run for a particular distance, time or speed, and others that don't care about that at all. There are "professional" runners and just regular runners that do it for the fun, health benefit or sense of accomplishment. Running, especially running for beginners, is one of the most intense cardiovascular activities out there. Very few exercises burn as many calories as quickly as running does. The great thing about it is, even if you are running slow, you are still getting in a great workout! Also, it's really great for busy moms that are looking for a new fitness challenge because it doesn't have to take you far from home, can be done even in as little as 20 minutes a day and gets you a serious calorie burn for your calorie buck.
Does running intimidate you? Is it something that you think "NO WAY. I CANNOT do that!" Don't let fear stand in your way. Running, even running for beginners, doesn't only mean doing a full marathon or an 8 minute mile. Sure, those things are possible, but it can look so different to so many people. We are here to help with some basic tips that will get your started on your jogging journey and can help you obtain whatever fitness goals you desire.
Get the Right Running for Beginners Running Gear
If you look up "running gear" on the internet you will come across all sorts of gadgets, clothes, and accessories. All of these have their benefits but we are here to share just the basics of what you need to get started. First and foremost, as running for beginners goes, you need to get the right shoes. No other item is more important than an excellent pair of quality running shoes. When you are looking for shoes, the best thing to do is head over to your local running shop and get fitted for a pair. Most places have extremely qualified technicians that can watch you run on a treadmill and find the perfect shoe for YOUR feet. You may not know this but there are treadmills designed for runners. They are bit more expensive than regular, but worth every penny. Do you know if you need high stability shoes? Or perhaps you have low arches and need to supplement that when running? Do you even know? Most people do not, so this is why getting fit for the proper shoe is THE most important thing you can do. Depending on how much you plan on running, a good pair of shoes can last you 6 months to a year, or even more. Yes, they can be expensive, but they are a small investment to being sure you don't injure yourself.
Get some quality running clothes too-most local big box stores now carry running gear at a low price, so don't feel like you have to spend too much. You want to get some stretchy, breathable, wicking material clothes to help you stay cool when you are out there on the road.
Some other good running gear includes:
- quality socks
- no-ride up undies
- hand-held water bottle
- running headphones
- headband to keep your hair back
- good quality sports bra
Use Technology to Your Advantage
We live in a technology-centered world, why not use this to your advantage? There are tons of apps out there that you can use that have training plans for all sorts of races and also some great ones for tracking your runs. It's fun and also motivational to see your total milage increase after each run and that can be a powerful tool. Other apps specialize in playing your "coach" as you progress. You can sign up for a training plan with an end distance goal of anywhere from a 5k to a full marathon. The app will tell you when and what distance to run so it's like having a professional running with you at all times! The one thing these apps cannot do, however, is track your calorie burn, for that you need a heart rate monitor. There are all sorts of these on the market with varying price ranges. A great simple one to start with is the Polar FT4. This HRM has a strap that you wear around your waist and a watch. It will track milage, distance, time and calorie burn- and there's nothing more motivational than seeing THOSE numbers on the screen! Last but not least, get yourself a great running playlist you can listen to when you are out there. Pick songs that will motivate you to get moving- songs you love!
Our favorite beginning HRM is the Polar FT4. This device can track distance, total time and calorie burn. Some apps can even be synchronized with it for a more complete picture of your workout.
Start off on the Right Foot
Before you even step foot on the pavement or trail, there is something every runner should do first: warm up and stretch. Many people skip this valuable step and end up with injuries down the road. Stretching is an integral part of running because it gets your muscles warmed up and ready to run. You don't need to do a complete yoga session though, 5 minutes is plenty. Before you run, start off by doing some dynamic stretching- which gets your body warm with movement instead of staying still. Try some leg lifts (swing your leg in front and back of you a few times and then switch), butt kicks (kick you leg up behind you, hitting your bottom), some walking lunges, and high knees. Check out here and here for an explanation of these moves and a few more ideas. After you are done with your run, be sure to cool down with some additional stretching. Check out this list here from Cool Runnings that gives you a list of a few simple stretches that you can do after you run! These before and after run moves with help to prevent injuries.
I Stretched, Now What?
You have your gear, shoes on and have stretched- now what? Now you run. If this is the first time you have ever run, don't feel like you have to do more than you can handle. The best way is to set a time limit for yourself, maybe start at 2o or 30 minutes total. Start by walking for 5 minutes and running for 2, over and over again until you finish your time. Do this for a few days or even the enitre week, depending on how your body feels. The next week, try walking for 4 minutes and running for 3, over and over again until you finish your time. Slowly work your way up to more running and less walking. Be sure to listen to your body. If you are feeling sore or tired, it's ok to walk, but remember, your mind is usually your worst enemy on these runs. Your legs can do more than you think so don't be afraid to push it a bit!
How to Take it to the Next Level
One of the biggest tis in running for beginners is to listen your body. In the beginning of your running, it's good to add in those walking breaks. Plan on trying to run 3 to 4 days a week if you can so you can keep up your momentum. Unfortunately, running, like most sports, is one that you will "lose" if you don't keep up with it. Even a shorter run is better than no run at all! As you progress in your abilities, challenge yourself to different distances or try to beat your best time. There's no better motivation than signing up for a race though. Check out your local running clubs or ask friends and sign yourself up for a race. Choose the best distance for you but don't be afraid to challenge yourself. Having that end goal is a great focuser and crossing that finish line is one of the best feelings in the world.
Running is such a liberating experience. Not only is it great for your body but it can be just what your busy mind needs. When you go for your run, forget about all of your kid's fighting, crying and all of the to-do lists waiting for you at home. Use this short time to clear your mind and listen to your music and your feet against the pavement. Don't feel guilt for taking this bit of time for yourself. Remember, you can't be your best Mom if you are unhealthy or stressed. Running can help alleviate some of these stresses- even if for only 30 minutes. Don't be nervous to start- just get out there and go.
Photo Credits: Our Three Peas