Wether you are training for your first race, running for fun or running to lose weight there are ten things that every runner should know to get the most out of your workout and to effectively improve.
1. Good Shoes. I cannot stress enough how much getting professionally fitted at an actual running store cannot only improve your running but will also reduce your risk of injury. Most runners who have not been professionally fit, especially beginning runners, are wearing ineffective shoes for their feet. Proper shoes should give adequate support for any possible weaknesses or imbalances in the feet. Also, keep in mind that a running shoe should be snug (not tight) at the heel and mid-foot but roomy at the forefoot and toes to allow for expansion during running. In fact, most runners may find that their running shoes are a half-size larger than their street shoes. Further, a runner should replace running shoes often, probably every 300-500 miles. If you are getting sore when you weren’t previously, your shoes could be the culprit. Visit your local running store and get fitted to see if that will solve your problem.
2. Setting Goals. Goals are a great way to improve running. Goals can be set in various areas: think distance, time, upcoming races, and days spent running. It is good to keep in mind short-term and long-term practical goals. A beginning runner may not want to set a goal to run a 5K by next weekend if they have yet to run a mile but, with some hard work, a 5K can be accomplished within a couple months. A great goal for beginning runners would be to stick to their running schedule, whatever it may be.
3. Focus on Distance or Time. It is hard to say you are going for an hour run one day and the next day to concentrate on running 5 miles, especially for a beginning runner. It is far easier to focus on either distance or time. It is great to track both, but focus on one for planning purposes. A beginning runner should start with something like: run two minutes, walk one minute (do this ten times) or run ¼ mile, walk ⅛ mile (do this eight times). I prefer distance because my goals have to do with running races for distance, not time.
4. Slowly Increase Distance. To advance your workout, a good rule of thumb is to increase your distance by 10% every week. So, if I run a total of five miles in week one, the following week I would target my total weekly distance to be 5.5 miles. This 10% increase dramatically decreases the chances of injuring yourself while also allowing your body to fully adapt to the distance. If 10% seems too small, consider if you are running a total of 50 miles a week and you increase by 10% the next week, that is adding 5 more miles!
5. Resting. Rest days are one of my highest priorities for runners. Rest days allow your body to renew for your next day of running. One to two rest days every week will be adequate for preventing injuries and renewing energy. According to Runners World Online
, “A day off every seven to 14 days restocks glycogen stores, builds strength, and reduces fatigue.” Without sufficient recovery time your body will not be able adapt to long-term running.