Any foot doctor worth his or her weight will advise you that physical activity is instrumental in contributing to your overall health. Of course, running is a popular exercise for people the world over. This may seem like a simple and straightforward activity—put one foot in front of the other, quicker is better—but it’s not quite that simple.
Without having a plan in place, you could put yourself at risk for injury. Our team at Premier Podiatry Group provides first-class treatment for foot and ankle sports injuries, but we’d rather know you are able to avoid injury.
To help you stay safe and injury-free, we have prepared some beginning running tips. Following these will lower your injury risk and allow you to create a sustainable running program as you work to achieve your goals and lead a healthier lifestyle.
Before You Hit the Pavement
The first tip for a beginner is to establish your goals and milestones for your running program. Take some time to think about what you want to accomplish. Perhaps you want to run a marathon. Maybe you are interested in losing weight and improving your cardiovascular conditioning. No matter your motivation, write down your goals and then poste them somewhere you can see them every day.
In order to create a solid goal—for running or otherwise—follow the SMART method. Makes sure that your running goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. A vague goal that cannot be measured will not allow you to know if you’re actually making progress. You need to know exactly what you want to achieve, be able to see progress, and know that it can be achieved in a realistic, timely manner.
Goals are important, but so are milestones. By creating these markers along your path, you will be able to see progress and know you are getting somewhere. This ties in with the “M” from the SMART method and will provide the metrics you need to proceed.
We hope your plans and milestones do not include running a marathon in your first week! Part of being realistic in your planning is ensuring that you do not attempt to do too much, too soon. Plan on building up your levels of frequency, duration, and intensity gradually. Tackling too much at the start will only increase your risk for injury (like stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, etc.) and burnout.
Essential Running Equipment
Now that you know what you want to accomplish and have a roadmap for how to get there, you will need the right equipment. Fortunately, running doesn’t require much, but what it does—shoes and clothing—is extremely important.
With regard to your running shoes, it helps to know a little about pronation. This is a natural biomechanical process feet undergo with every step. It is supposed to be an inward-rolling motion of around fifteen percent. When the rolling motion is less, we call it supination. When the rolling motion is greater, we call it overpronation.
Both supination and overpronation can cause problems. One way to remedy these biomechanically abnormalities is with the use of orthotics, which we can prescribe. A better starting point for milder cases is making appropriate shoe purchases.
The best move you can make when buying your running shoes is to go to a store that caters to runners and enlist the help of a knowledgeable sales associate. Keep in mind that a decent pair of running shoes—and they need to be at least “decent”—may run about a hundred dollars. The money is worth it, though, to ensure that you have shoes that are comfortable, fit properly, and offer adequate support.
On Your Mark, Get Set…
Hitting the road or trails with “cold” muscles is a risky endeavor. Always take the time to warm up with a five-minute walk or light jog to lower your risk of soft tissue injury. Part of this step should also be “dynamic” stretching, which is more effective prior to starting an activity than “static” stretching (performing a stretch and then holding it).
When performing dynamic stretches, you move as you stretch. Doing so is useful for activating the muscles you will use when running. Further, this kind of stretching is proven to improve range of motion – which means less soreness the day after a run!
One of the beginning runner tips that will help you to avoid becoming easily discouraged is to start out with a run/walk mix, instead of jumping right into full, all-out running.
A good plan to get you started is to use a 1-minute run/5-minute walk interval and repeat it five times through to provide a solid 30-minute workout. Over the course of the next couple of months, gradually increase the amount of time you run, while decreasing the walking portion of the mix. You will then be able to run for 30 minutes without needing the walking component.
Whether you want additional beginning runner tips or require care for a foot or ankle condition, Premier Podiatry Group has the expertise and knowledge to help your running journey. We offer running tips so you can stay safe, but any physical activity comes with an inherent risk of injury.
If you experience foot or ankle pain from running, we can help! Contact us and schedule an appointment at our Ebensburg, PA office by calling (814) 472-2660. You can also use our online form to connect with us right now.
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