You might think that running is as simple as grabbing a pair of shoes and running for a mile or so. It may seem like a pretty simple exercise, but there are quite some technicalities involved with running that one needs to keep in mind.
And as a beginner, you will have hundreds of questions about ‘What kind of shoes do I need?’, ‘What is the correct form to run?’, ‘Do I need to buy different clothes to run properly?’ and so on and so forth. While we all ‘know’ how to run as human beings, running as a form of exercise is a whole different ball game. So, here’s everything you need to know about running - from the preparation stage to the execution stage.
The Preparation Phase
Before you get your foot out and running about, you need to start preparing for your run. Everything from getting the right shoes to the right gear to preparing your body for running; this phase is all about laying the groundwork for your running journey.
Check With Your Doctor
Before you even start with the gear and shoes, you need to know if your body is ready for this exercise regime. If you’ve had a sedentary lifestyle for a long time, and now plan to start running, you need to first check with your doctor. Your doctor will provide you with certain tips, tailored to your body's requirements that you need to keep in mind. Depending on your health and medical history, your doctor will offer you advice, precautions, and guidelines that you need to follow. Doctors might even recommend some dietary changes like adding more greens or ensuring you keep yourself hydrated throughout the run.
Choosing The Right Running Shoes
If you are seriously considering running, then you should also consider investing in a good pair of running shoes. A good pair of running shoes should be a comfortable fit and offer support as well as facilitate your running style. The best way to find the perfect pair of running shoes is by visiting a specialty store or a sports store. Such stores will have you wear several different pairs of shoes before deciding on your shoes. The staff might even make recommendations based on their observation of your running style and foot strike.
Picking The Right Running Gear
While running in your cotton shirts and track pants are just fine, you will soon come to realize that specialized running clothes are worth investing in. These moisture-wicking fabrics are lightweight, built to keep you cool and dry in warm weather, and do not irritate your skin due to friction. Women also need to consider investing in good sports bras that offer good coverage and comfort, with wide straps and do not irritate your skin.
Get Mentally Prepared And Plan Your Route
Once you’re set with your gear and shoes, it’s time to prepare and motivate yourself to start this endeavor with a good boost of energy. Getting mentally prepared to start running is all about planning how you are going to go about your run. From the route you plan to take to the amount of time you’re aiming for, planning your run beforehand goes a long way. It makes you feel prepared and even energetic about the next day!
The Execution Phase
Now that you have the groundwork laid for your running journey, it’s time to execute and begin with actually running. In this phase, you discover your running style, learn to build stamina, learn to pace yourself, and finally push yourself to keep doing more and better.
Warm-Ups and Cool Downs
You don’t want to start running immediately and end up having sore muscles by the day's end.  Instead, make it a habit to start off with some light warm-ups, that can help enhance your workout performance.  Some hip rotations, side lunges, squats, and brisk walking are great ways to warm up your muscles and limbs for running. Also, after your run remember to cool down with some static stretches that will help relax your body and mind, and facilitates thermoregulation. 
Start With The Run-Walk Method
When you start with your run, start out at a slow and easy pace. Let your body get comfortable with the movements and then settle into the gait. As the name suggests, the run-walk method uses intervals of running and walking. This helps build endurance and stamina in new runners and does not become too heavy for your body to handle. You can start with 2 or 3 minutes of walking then 3 minutes of running. Slowly you can add more minutes to running. As you get more comfortable with running, you can cut down on the amount of walking time.
Once you’ve started running with a bit more ease and comfort, you can start working on your running posture. Make sure that your posture is upright and your head is lifted and in line with your shoulders. Don’t hunch while running as it may affect your overall posture as well as hurt your neck and shoulders. Let your arms swing naturally, almost grazing your hip, and let your palms be cupped slighted, or open. Don’t clench them into fists as they can lead to tension in your arms, shoulders, and neck.
Increase The Distance And Run Time Gradually
Once you’ve built the resilience for running and don’t need as many ‘walk intervals’ as before, you can slowly begin adding more miles to your running routine. This doesn’t have to be immediate and can happen over a course of months if needed.
As you run, you’ll notice that what previously seemed like a tough run, now seems slightly easier. This means that you have built endurance and can push yourself a bit more. This is the perfect time to add a few extra miles or even some extra minutes than you normally would. Just keep in mind not to overdo or overwork yourself.
Diet And Hydration Are Key
For any workout regime, nutrition and diet are major components. Similarly, with running you’ll soon realize how important it is to keep yourself hydrated and to eat nutritious food.
- Hydration: You’re going to lose a lot of water through sweat while running, so you need to keep your body hydrated. Be mindful of when you feel thirsty and take a few sips of water whenever you feel thirsty. Do not chug water, take small sips and take a few minutes to rehydrate and recover. You can carry a handy water bottle and take small sips of water every time you feel thirsty. If you’re running longer miles, then you can even consider carrying an electrolyte-based sports drink to replenish yourself.
- Diet: The right diet both before and after your run provides you with enough energy to go through your workout and can facilitate recovery. But you need to be mindful of what to eat and when. For instance, a light snack before you go running is great. Something that is rich in calories, and easy on your stomach is good enough. Make sure to have an interval of atleast 20 to 30 minutes before you start running after you eat.
And even your run, especially longer runs, you need to replenish your body of burnt energy. Just make sure you eat about 30 to 45 minutes after your run. Protein bars, energy chews, or even a fruit smoothie are great options to consider.
Some Tips For Beginner Runners
Here are some worthwhile tips for beginner runners to help in their running journey.
- Try to avoid cotton socks as they trap moisture and the material will rub against your foot. Instead, a technical running sock won’t absorb moisture and your foot will be less likely to blister.
- Find motivation through online communities and tracking apps, as they keep you interested and engaged with running tips and tricks, and you can make changes to your routine accordingly.
- While you are setting goals, ensure that you’re setting realistic goals that do not push you too hard. You can slowly process your goals and consistently increase difficulty, but only as far as you can go.
- It is okay if you’ve failed in your set goals. Failure and setbacks are a part of the learning process, and they teach you important lessons like where to hold back and where to push yourself.
- Mix in different workouts with running. Adding in squats, lunges, pushups, pull-ups, or even going cycling once in a while is good to strengthen your core and muscles, and increase your mobility.
- Finally, do not overwork your body. Give your body enough time to rest and recover and for a beginner take small runs every alternate day. This way your body has time to recover and repair, and you won’t feel burnt out.
Running is a great form of exercise and has more to it than what meets the eye. As a beginner runner, one should remember to take it slow and start with a mix of running and walking, until one slowly builds the stamina to keep running. And another important thing to keep in mind is not to overdo the workout. Giving your body good enough time to repair and recover, with good nutrition, hydration, and good sleep.
How Long Should A Beginner Start Running?
As a beginner runner, 20 to 30 minutes or roughly 2 to 4 miles is good enough as a start. You can then slowly and gradually increase your run duration and distance, once your body has built the stamina and endurance for it.
How Do You Breathe While Running?
While running it’s best to breathe through both your nose and mouth. The combined breathing will keep your breath rate steady and engage your diaphragm for maximum oxygen intake.
How Do I Build My Stamina For Running?
First of all, be consistent with your runs and start out slow and easy. Slowly start increasing your run mileage (duration and miles), this will help build stamina. Finally, remember to incorporate other types of workouts like squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, and cycling to increase core and muscle strength.
What Is Good To Eat Before A Run?
Foods like a banana, granola bars, yogurt, fresh fruit, and dry fruits are some great options you can consider having before a run. Do remember to eat at least 30 to 40 minutes before you set out though, to avoid feeling nauseous.