Running: You either love it or hate it. Some people find it to be a great health and mental wellness boost, while others feel it’s it too hard, too boring or just too uncomfortable.
But one thing many people can agree on is that a marathon, 5K or a race of any length can be truly inspirational. Seeing hundreds of people running by with numbers pinned to their chests can trigger a “me, too” moment. Though there are certainly important techniques to it, running is something that just about anyone can do if they try.
If you’re inspired to start running—whether a marathon or just a few daily laps around your neighborhood—you need a few things to get going.
Clearance: Even if you have no health issues, it’s important to check in with your doctor before starting any new physical activity. Ask whether your body is ready and how to make it ready safely. Running is a high-intensity, high-impact sport that can exacerbate some cardiovascular, orthopedic or other conditions. A sudden burst in activity can lead to injury (or make running less enjoyable), so take it slow at the start. Progress from walking to relaxed, easy jogging. Read up on running for beginners.
- Shoes: Supportive running shoes are critical for protecting and cushioning your feet and lessening the impact on your body. Before buying, read reviews in running magazines, talk to friends who run, and, if possible, visit a reputable athletic shop to be personally fitted by an expert.
- Bra: For women, a good sports bra is important for controlling breast movement and minimizing discomfort while running. Look online for tips and try on a few until you find one that fits well and is supportive.
- Safety gear: Wear reflective gear and carry a light for safety, especially if you plan to run at night or in the early morning.
A buddy or more: Studies show that people who exercise with a friend stick with it longer—a friend keeps you accountable and makes things more fun. Buddy up with someone of the same fitness level, so neither of you feels pressured to do too much too fast. Keep an exercise log for added motivation. Learn more here.
Music: Music with a good beat can make a run more enjoyable and help keep a regular pace, but be careful when doing any activity while wearing ear buds. For safety’s sake, never turn up the volume so loud that you can’t hear what’s going on around you. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Warming up and stretching (before and after) is important for all sports, particularly running. Warm up with light movement and easy, short stretches (10-30 second holds at light intensity); afterwards, do longer stretches (30-60 second holds) and take a short walk to aid recovery. Stretching should never be painful.
Take the time to get ready for each run, and start out slowly. As you build stamina, add time and miles a little at a time. Soon, you’ll be on your way to becoming an inspiration to others.
Join the conversation. Share your running tips with others.
Thanks to blogger Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC, CYT, a certified health and wellness coach with the UMass Memorial Weight Center, for her expertise on this post.