To be quite honest, running is kind of the worst. There are these mysterious, magical unicorn people out there who just naturally love running and sadly, we are not those people. In fact, it takes a lot of motivation to just get us up off the couch … but that’s a whole other issue. The fact is, running takes a lot of effort and while it is an excellent form of exercise, it can be real tricky to get into. Sometimes we expect that just because we put on a fresh pair of lulus and some sick Nikes, we will be able to hop out the door and run 6 miles without a problem.
That’s funny. If you can do that, we applaud you. But for the rest of us normal people, that is not the case. We need to ease into it. We need to train our bodies to do that, and we also need to make sure we are doing it correctly. Even if running does come naturally to you and doesn’t make you want to hurt everyone around you, it is very important that you learn proper form. Otherwise, you could cause some major damage to your body.
If you are considering getting into running because it seems fun, or you want to get back in shape after stress-binge-eating-inducing finals, you should follow three simple steps.
Make sure you have good shoes. Not all sneakers are made equally and not all feet are the same. Some of us have high arches, others flat feet, some have wide feet and others narrow. Depending on the shape and structure of your feet, as well as if you have had injuries and how you walk, you are going to need a pair of shoes that fit you perfectly. Even though those new Nikes look fresh AF does not mean that they are going to treat your little toes the way they are meant to. We recommend going to a specialty sneaker shop or an athletic store like Fleet Feet Sports and getting your feet analyzed to find the perfect shoes for you. It’s like a dating service, but for running shoes.
Learn proper form. Although running like Phoebe from Friends is super fun, it is not sustainable and will probably hurt you in the long run. There are a bunch of handy guides to form online, like this one. One important thing is to keep your knees in line, making sure that when your feet strike the ground, they are under your knees, not in front. It is also best to keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle and relax your hands. Running requires a lot of core strength because it makes it easier to stay upright and avoid hip injuries. So in addition to keeping your core engaged while running, start an ab workout regimen as well.
Start out slow. Don’t expect to be able to run a half marathon in the first week of running. It is best to slowly build up to longer, faster runs. Something that really helped us when we got into running was to have a chart that started out with a 30 minute “run” of 6 intervals of 1-minute running and 4 minutes walking. We slowly decreased the number of minutes walking and increased the minutes of running so that by the end of the month, we could run 30 minutes without too much trouble.
Overall, the most important thing to remember when starting any exercise regimen is that it is for your health. Sure, having tight abs and glutes are great, but really the most important thing is your overall health. Running not only helps you lose weight, but also strengthens your immune system, prevents heart disease, relieves stress, and can eliminate depression. Whatever the reason is you want to hit the pavement, do it smartly and with a smile on your face.