Get Ready to Run!

03.21.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

AP Photo

By Becky Johnson, Certified Personal Trainer (ACE); IBNFC Certified Nutrition Coach

Hasn’t the weather been beautiful lately? This is the time of year I like to get off the treadmill and take my running outside. I love the fresh air, the scenery and the freedom of running when I’m out of the gym or my basement!

Running is one of the most effective, time-efficient workouts around, but if you get off on the wrong foot (pun intended haha!), it can be hard to stay motivated and easy to get discouraged. BUT starting and sticking with a running program doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s simply a matter of doing the right things at the right time.

Step by Step

First things first: consult with your doctor to determine whether running is appropriate for you. Nothing can derail a program faster than sore feet or knee pain. Though they often carry a hefty price, properly fitting running shoes can help prevent shin splints, blisters, sore muscles and sore joints. Look for light-weight shoes that breathe well and offer good arch and ankle support. You may need to consider visiting a running store, like Potomac River Running, to talk to a qualified professional about choosing the right shoes for your feet.

Aside from comfortable clothing, little else is needed. Once you’re ready, just head out your front door! Grass, running tracks or dirt surfaces are more forgiving on your joints than asphalt or concrete. If you run on trails, be careful of loose rocks and tree roots that could twist your ankle. Above all - safety first! Be sure to run where it’s safe, well lit and out of the way of traffic.

Get In Motion

Running may seem like a natural motion but everyone has their own style and there are a few things you can do to run more efficiently and comfortably:

*Squeeze – Bend your elbows to about 90 degrees and squeeze them to your sides while keeping your hands relaxed. Keep that bend in your elbows as you run and avoid twisting your upper body or swinging your arms across your body

*Drive – Drive your arms from your shoulders and not from the elbows. This will increase your power and running efficiency. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed.

*Lift - Lean forward slightly from the ankles not the waist. Attempt to lift your knees a little higher as they swing forward.

*Level – Keep your head level and avoid excessive bouncing as you run.

*Strike – Strike the ground first with your heel, and then roll toward the ball of your foot, pushing off with the front of your foot.

These tips will help you run smoother and keep your body in the right alignment so you won’t feel like you’re working against yourself as you run.

F.I.T.T: Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type

Frequency, intensity, time and type are the elements that you need to put together an effective beginners running program. The best way to sabotage a running program is to do too much too soon. A minimum of 23-30 minutes, three times a week (with days off in between) at an intensity of 50-85% maximal effort is the standard recommendation. You can always change it to suit your individual needs or goals.

A few more running tips to keep in mind:

*Warm up and cool down!
*Spend time stretching after your cool down to reduce muscle soreness.
*Listen to your body. Reduce your intensity, duration or exercise frequency when experiencing muscle soreness.
*Follow a strength training program on alternate days to balance your running program.
*Increase mileage by no more than 10% each week.

From the Couch to 5K

Websites that offer “Couch to 5K” running programs: -  Offers a 9 week program with lots of tools. - Jeff Galloway is a world class runner and former Olympian. His site offers a 15 week program for runners wanting to work toward a 5k.

Also check out the app “Couch To 5k” from!

The popularity of 5k races has dramatically increased over the past few years. By running a 5k and donating money through your entry fee or raising money through donations, you are supporting a larger cause and meeting new people.

Like any activity, running isn’t for everybody. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. But if you do, take your time, progress slowly and allow your muscles to adapt to the rigors of running.

Stay Fit and Healthy,

Leave your questions and comments for Becky below and she'll answer them in an upcoming post!

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