Are you hoping to get into the running habit as it warms up outside? Don’t just sign up for a half marathon and hope for the best! Build strength and endurance (while avoiding injury!) with our advice for newbie runners.
Don’t underestimate the power of stretching before running. In fact, this is one of the most essential elements for preventing injuries. You should only stretch warm muscles, so be sure to stretch after running when muscles are warmest and joints are lubricated. You can do some stretching before your run, but be sure to make them dynamic (rather than static) stretches, which focus on several different muscle groups at once and use controlled movement.
Use Proper Form
Of course, as a physical therapy clinic, we stress the importance of good posture. Improper form can lead to pain in your back, neck, and shoulders. To use good form, keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders level. Your gaze should be about 10 to 20 feet ahead of you. Avoid looking down at your feet too much, not only because you can hurt your neck but you also may miss obstacles coming up ahead. Furthermore, your arms should be bent at around 90 degrees and your hands should be around waist to hip level.
No one runs a marathon the first time they go out running. New runners are often excited to get started, so they push themselves to sprint for miles, which can lead to injury and actually derail your running routine. You need to build endurance and stamina before you can jump into a 10K. Some people like to start by alternating between walking and running. Gradually increase your running time in small increments (don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% each week).
Proper breathing is important to minimize side stitches and keep your stamina up. The best breathing technique for running is to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathing only through your nose, as some new runners may think to do, might not get enough oxygen to your muscles and will actually wear you out quicker. An easy way to know if you’re at a good pace is the talk test – as in, if you can hold a conversation while running, you’re at the right speed. This will help assure you that you’re not overtraining too much in the beginning.
Your rest days are just as important as your run days. Resting helps your muscle repair themselves and in turn, helps you avoid injury. Schedule a few recovery days a week, and don’t run if you are sick, injured, or undernourished. Consider rest days as part of your training!