So You Want to Start Running? Here’s What You Need to Know
It’s never too late to think about taking up a running program!
If you like the breeze on your face outdoors, Cambria County features plenty of great trails to take advantage of. There’s the Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail that winds along Johnstown, the huge Ghost Town Trail that stretches from Ebensburg to Blacklick, and the Honan Ave. Community Hiking & Biking Trail with scenic views of waterfalls and a live beaver dam.
Of course, these trails aren’t always their easiest to navigate when winter rolls around, but treadmills and indoor running tracks are always an option when you don’t want to brave the elements (although some still do).
Regardless of how you plan to run, every beginning runner should keep several things in mind before they start putting one foot in front of the other.
At Premier Podiatry Group, we love hearing when a patient wants to try a new activity. And an activity like running, when done well, can have great, long-lasting benefits for one’s health.
But we also know that just going out and running without proper preparations can be frustrating at best and painful at worst! This is why we offer advice to anyone new to running—and that includes people who are already active in other ways!
Get the Right Shoes
If there is only one thing you can do for yourself before you start running, finding the right pair of shoes should be it.
The act of running places a lot of repetitive force on the feet. Running shoes are designed to help absorb some of that impact while being flexible enough to aid your movement. Having these elements working for you can help prevent chronic pain and sidelining injuries.
However, there isn’t one set of these parameters that is universally “perfect.” Everyone has different needs for cushioning on flexibility based on a number of factors:
- How often and how far do you plan on running?
- What kinds of surfaces do you plan to run on? Will you run on pavement, gravel, or are you sticking to treadmills?
- Do you have any arch conditions (like flat feet) that influence your gait and affect how pressure is distributed across your feet?
Everyone’s needs can differ quite a bit, which is why there are so many types of running shoes on the market!
There is no need to wade into all the possibilities on your own, however. Associates at running and athletic stores are trained to determine your shoe needs and find you the right type of shoe with the best fit.
Locally, we recommend Up-N-Running in Ebensburg for the job. They have a good selection of shoes and a staff who is great with casual runners and cross-country stars alike. Whoever you choose to go to, bring a pair of shoes you’ve worn for a long time. Associates can use the tread patterns on these to help determine where your arches sit and where weight tends to focus on your feet.
Stretch Before You Run
Hitting the trail right out of the gate is not a wise move, especially if you’re brand new to running.
Our muscles and other soft tissues need to prepare for strenuous activity to be better prepared for it. A sudden thrust from a relaxed state into one of intensity can cause damage such as Achilles tendinitis or plantar fasciitis.
Taking some time to perform some stretching exercises before you head off can be a great help to your comfort. What kind of stretching you can do varies.
Many people automatically think of static stretching. This is the type that usually involves you touching your toes or pulling each leg back from a fixed position. This can be helpful toward preventing injury, but it’s also not the only type of stretching available.
Dynamic stretching is more kinetic. It involves exercises like lunges, squats, and light jogging—things you are more likely to see many runners doing before a race.
A mix of both types of stretching tends to be most effective, as long as you don’t hold your static stretches too long. If you have any questions about the best ways for you to warm up before a run, just let us know.
Be Patient with Yourself
No matter how much you stretch beforehand, running too far or too hard is going to lead to an overuse injury if your body is not conditioned to take the strain.
When starting out, set a small, realistic goal for yourself and build up to it over time. Your increases should never be more than 10% per week. For distance, that would mean going from 1 mile to 1.1 miles. For time, that would mean going from 12:00/mile to 10:48/mile (1 minute and 12 seconds off).
Regardless of your goals, however, listen to what your body is telling you. If you feel your breathing is out of control, slow down for a bit. Don’t be afraid to walk part of the way as your body improves.
And if you feel pain, something is wrong. Stop and give yourself a break. If pain persists, and it’s in your foot or ankle, it’s time to give us a call.
Keep on Running
There is more to learn about running, but so much of it depends on your individual goals, running style, and health.
We’re always happy to speak with runners who have concerns about their foot and ankle health, whether they are currently having a problem or want to prevent one from developing down the line.
Our offices in Ebensburg and Johnstown are ready to hear from you. Give us a call at (814) 472-2660 or fill out our online request form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.