Thinking about running? Don’t think about it – just do it. Usually you can find articles written by pro runners but this is from a beginner’s perspective. I’ve just started running the last couple of months and wanted to share what worked for me from what to wear to how to breathe and ultimately how to run.
On your marks, get set, go!
STEP 1: Build Your Ultimate Running Outfit
Your ultimate outfit is not just the clothes you wear but it is also your shoes and even socks! Here’s what has worked for me from bottom to top:
- Shoes: Under Armor Women’s HOVR Infinite Running Shoes
- These shoes are awesome! It includes a Record Sensor linked to the MapMyRun App.
- Did you know you should the way you lace shoes makes a HUGE difference?
- Socks: Compression Running Socks – significantly lessens shin pains!
- Shin Support (this is a game changer): Shin Splint Support – the first time I wore it and didn’t experience any shin splint. But don’t wear this with the compression socks above, it causes way too much compression. Wear ankle socks – these have a cushioned footbed and arch support, LOVE EM
- Running Tights: Under Armor Women’s Amour Fly Fast – Find pants with a drawstring! TRUST ME, it feels waaaay better to run or even jog without your pants sliding down. It also has a pocket for your phone, you can run without feeling it move around.
- Sports Bra: Adidas Women’s Stronger for it High Sports Bra – Grab a bra that allows you adjust straps. There’s a lot of sports bra that don’t and it can dig into your shoulders and cause pain.
- Shirt: Any top made of wicking material to keep you cooler and drier fabric is good. I really like tops from Under Armour that have mesh panels for added breathability
- Jacket: Under Armour’s Running Hoodie – Any hoodie/jacket that is close to your skin and light is great.
- Headband: Fleece Headband – I don’t use the ponytail hole because I find it too low. But I was able to adjust it to cover my ears fully while having a high ponytail. This way you don’t need to have an annoying hood flapping around.
- Foot roller: Hot & Cold Foot Roller – I don’t heat or freeze it and it works great! Roll slowly when your feet feel stiff or if you experience plantar fasciitis before and after your workout
STEP 2: Learn to Belly Breathe
- Do you tend to take shallow breaths when you’re feeling tired? I definitely did when I started. Most of us breathe through our chest, which apparently isn’t the best way to maximize their oxygen intake.
- Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is a technique which allows you to maximize your oxygen intake while you run. It works by engaging the diaphragm to create more space in your chest cavity, allowing your lungs to expand fully to take in more oxygen.
- An easy way to practice deep belly breathing is by lying down on the floor and placing one hand on your belly and another on your chest. Take a normal breath and see which area rises first. Practice breathing deep into your belly first, then moving the breath up into your chest as you exhale.
STEP 3: Better your Form, the Easier Running Feels
- Head: Don’t look at your feet. Gaze directly in front of you. Most of us tilt our chin up or down, especially when we’re tired. A focused gaze keeps your neck in proper alignment with your spine. Have your ears in line with your shoulder.
- Shoulder: Pull your shoulders back as if you’re a squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades. Shake your arms, shrug your shoulders, and focus on loosening up. You’ll lose energy if you get tight and tense, almost like you’re shrugging.
- Arms: Your arms should be at a 90-degree angle. Point your thumbs to the sky and imagine an invisible line runs down the center of your body – don’t let your hands cross over that line.
- Hands: Pretend you have a potato chip or egg between your index finger and thumb so that your hands are relaxed. Otherwise, the more you squeeze your hands, the more energy you’re using up.
- Feet: Aim to hit the ground with the ball of your foot. This will help propel you forward and your stride won’t come out too far in front of you. Everyone’s natural foot strike and gait is different, become aware of how your feet touch the ground and tweak it.
- Do a body scan as you run:
- Unfurrow your brow, unclench your jaw, bring your shoulders down away from your ears, and keep your hands loose. Avoid clenching your fists. Imagine that you’re holding a piece of paper between each thumb and forefinger.
STEP 4: Remember the Stretches
- I use to just jump into running thinking that I could do it as I did when I was much younger. Don’t do it. Spend 50-60 seconds stretching at the very least. Below are the ones I do, holding each side for about 5 seconds and it makes a BIG difference. Do these also at the END of your run.
STEP 5: Develop Endurance First; Speed will Come Later
- Embrace the Walk-Run Method: Start with a warm with a brisk walk for a few minutes to get your legs warmed up and heart rate up a bit.
- Once you feel ready, jog at an easy pace for two to three minutes. Depending on your fitness level, you may be able to handle more or less. If you feel winded after one minute, feel free to stop and take a walk break.
- After your first one to three minute stretch of jogging, walk for one to two minutes.
- Repeat for up to 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how you feel
- Cool down with a five-minute walk
How sore should I expect to get?
- Your legs will be sore in the beginning, but if you keep up the routine (and wear shin support), the leg soreness will subside relatively quickly.
- If you feel acute pain anywhere, stop running for a day or two and let your legs recover, to prevent injuries.
- Shin splints are the most common injury, usually incurred when you overdo your running or wear improper shoes. Be aware of the difference between being tired and being injured, and make sure you’re not encouraging overuse injuries.
How will I know if I’m improving?
- Keep a simple journal on your phone, using a notepad app or if you end up getting Under Armour running shoes you can join MapMyRun – this is where I quickly jot down my pain level on a scale of 1-10 for my legs, how I ran (maybe I just walked the whole 20 minutes – that’s okay!) and generally how I felt
- Overtime, I realized my pain level decreased but writing it down with a number against my pain was helpful!
To wrap this up, always remember soon as you show up, put one foot in front of the other – you’re a runner! It doesn’t matter how much time you run and whether you walk or not – YOU ARE A RUNNER!