If your gym is closed, you may be thinking about running for the first time. With proper conditioning, most adults can compete in a race or enjoy the trails at a local park.
However, running too much too soon can leave you frustrated and sore. You might injure your knee or hang up your sneakers before you cover any real distance.
Have fun and increase your fitness by taking a gradual approach. Use these tips to start your own running program.
Important Benefits of Running
More than 60 million Americans participate in running and jogging, according to the research firm Statista. There are many reasons why you might want to join them. Knowing your purpose will help you to persevere and succeed.
Consider these benefits:
- Protect your heart. Running provides an excellent cardio workout because it increases your heart rate and enhances your circulation. Some studies suggest that just a few weeks of training is enough to lower your resting heart rate by as much as 10 beats.
- Lose weight. Doing laps can also help you to manage your weight. Slimming down increases your mobility and lowers your risk for many serious conditions, including diabetes and some cancers.
- Manage stress. Chronic tension causes inflammation and makes your life less joyful. Physical exercise delivers relief without the potential side effects of relying on alcohol or shopping.
- Build confidence. Many runners enjoy a sense of accomplishment. Find fulfillment in bringing home trophies or starting your day with a solo run.
Preventing Running Injuries
Knee pain and shin splints are common, but simple precautions can help you avoid becoming sidelined.
Learn to prevent and treat running injuries with these tips:
- Ask a trainer. If possible, work with a certified trainer to create a personal routine that matches your abilities and ambitions. Friends and family with more experience may be helpful too.
- Walk a while. Start out with alternating between running and walking. You might run for 3 minutes and then slow down for 2 minutes, or as long as you need to recover. In general, increase your performance by 10% or less each week to avoid overdoing it.
- Rest up. Most minor injuries can be treated at home with the RICE formula. That includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
- Check the weather. Exercise indoors during extreme cold, heat, and humidity. On milder days, dress in layers so you can adjust quickly.
- See your doctor. Consult your physician if you have any concerns. That’s especially important if you’ve been sedentary for a while or have chronic conditions like diabetes.
Other Helpful Ideas
Make it automatic. It’s easy for one missed workout to snowball into a month of inactivity. Turn running into a habit by giving yourself meaningful rewards and storing your sneakers by the front door.
Try these tips:
- Log your progress. Tracking your performance strengthens motivation and accountability. Use an app or a paper journal to log your mileage, speed, diet, and other factors.
- Play music. There will be days when running seems effortless, and days when it’s grueling. A lively soundtrack increases the pleasure and takes your mind off any discomfort.
- Stay safe. Choose your running sites carefully. Pay attention to your surroundings and stick to well-lit areas. Turn your music down if it interferes with your hearing.
- Check local guidelines. Each community has its own rules. Most experts agree that exercising outdoors is okay as long as you maintain physical distance from others and stay home if you feel sick.
Running is an excellent way to stay active and enjoy the great outdoors. Start off gradually and vary your workouts to reduce the risk of injuries and maximize your physical and mental wellbeing.