Runner Mama is not qualified to give medical advice. Before starting to run, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor and make sure it’s safe for you.
Never run before? Only when being chased? If you’ve never been much of a runner and you want to get into it, you’re not alone. Running has been a growing sport since the 1970’s, and that growth has turned into an explosion in recent years. According to Running USA’s annual report, right now the number of U.S. race finishers is at an all-time high, having nearly tripled since 1990.
So, you’re in good company. And if you need some advice where to start, you’re in the right place!
Here are some good starter steps to start running for beginners:
Start by walking. If you haven’t spent much time on your feet lately, this is where to begin. Walking is a great way to build your muscles and maintain your weight. You can start out at whatever pace feels comfortable, and know that not only are you preparing your body to run, walking itself is a very healthy activity.
Walk faster. When you’re ready, add a little bit more challenge by adding speed. Small changes in your form can help you move faster and build up your cardiovascular health. Check out these tips that speed-walkers use:
Stand tall. No slouch in the shoulders, forward lean from the waist, or excess sway in your back. CUE: Keep your eyes on the horizon.
Focus on quicker, not longer steps. Yes, your stride does get longer as you walk faster, but that’s shouldn’t be your goal; let it happen naturally. Instead really concentrate on taking faster steps. CUE: Count how many steps you take in a minute; shoot for over 135.
Bend your arms. Bend your elbows at a right angle so your arms can swing more quickly; target a quick, compact arm swing. CUE: Hands should trace an arc from rubbing waistband at your hip on the back swing, to chest height (no higher) in the front.
Push off of your toes. Consciously push off the toes and generate as much boost at the end of each step. CUE: Feel like you’re showing someone behind you the bottom of your shoe on every step.
Transition to running. There are programs and plans out there to help you through this transition step-by-step, and my favorite is the Couch to 5K plan. It’s a popular place to start running for beginners for good reasons: It’s gradual, it’s very specific, and it has worked for lots of people. It’s how I made my start. Best of all, you can download the app to your phone and take that running with you. The app will prompt you when to pick it up to a run and when to slow down! You can get it here:
Get the gear. If you haven’t gotten fitted for running shoes, now is a great time for it. Drop in to your local running store. They will help you find the best running shoes for you. (Trust me, your feet will love you for it.)
Sign up for a race. You might want to sign up for your first race! Knowing you have a goal is a great motivator, and the experience is exciting. Consider starting out with that 5K (3.1 miles)!
Enjoy this time. Yes, there is sweating and trying and hard work. But mixed in, there is also the joy of every “first” you experience. Take a moment to appreciate the new milestones you reach, and be proud of your progress! Your own hard work will be what gets you there.
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