Racing season is upon us and many folks find that spring is a great time to start training for a race. I couldn’t agree more! With the temperatures starting to warm up, an outdoor activity like running may be just what your body needs. While the start-up costs are low (no long-term memberships or monthly fees) there are still a few things you should know before you hit the pavement.
1. Invest in really good shoes
The pounding of your body onto your feet and ankles is not a minor consideration. When it comes to running, shoes can mean the difference between reaching your goals and injury. Find a store that has knowledgeable employees, a fitting program, and an investment in the local running community. There you will have all the resources you need. If you are starting to run, these are now your people! Ask questions and get advice from people who have gone before you.
2. Find some running buddies
Running is a pretty popular activity in a lot of places, so you should be able to find a relaxed running club, training group or meet-up that suits your goals and ability level. These buddies will help keep you accountable and make even hard training days more fun. The running store where you will buy your shoes (see #1) will likely have a list of local groups, events and activities that will help you get plugged in, quickly. If you’re in a rural area don’t be afraid to step up and lead a running group. Meet-ups on Saturday mornings is great accountability!
3. Set some (reachable) goals
A specific race, a specific distance or a specific time are all good goals. Choose the one that motivates you the most. Be mindful to set reachable goals, or break down a large goal into several milestones. These small successes will keep you motivated and stop you from giving up along the way.
4. Learn about fueling your body – protein and hydration
The longer you run the more important protein and hydration will be to your training. Start learning about these things now. You can find tips in running magazines or online discussions. The important thing is to always, always, always pay attention to how you are fueling your body. This rule is not just for runners- it’s important for all of us. Your car can’t perform it’s best without good fuel, so don’t expect your body to. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, too. I try to drink about half of my body weight in ounces, daily, more if I’m training hard.
5. Pay attention
Your body is going to start telling you all sorts of things. It may get sore – queuing you to stretch and pay attention to your muscles. Soreness is to be expected when you start moving your body in ways it is not use to, but sometimes pain is a sign that something is wrong. Pain in your shins or hips or joints that won’t go away, even after a few days rest is worth investigating. You should be in conversation with a trained coach and/or doctor so you don’t permanently hurt yourself. Find someone you feel comfortable talking with and asking questions regarding what you are feeling. Learn to pay attention to when you should push forward and when you should stop before you go too far.
6. Have fun
When I first started running, it was hard; however, as it got less challenging I really started to enjoy it. If you find it’s not something you look forward to at first, don’t give up too easily. Running is a great way to release tension and stress while burning calories and doing something good for you. I hope you’ll come to love it as much as I do!
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Thanks for reading!