Are you starting to run but don’t know which plan to follow? Here some tips to keep going!
Regardless of your age and body composition, running is a quite straightforward activity that doesn’t require special equipment or professional skills. However, from experience, I know that as a beginner you have many questions and doubts that often find no specific answers.
Should I run fast or slow? How long my training should last? How many times a week should I train? These are just a few examples of the type of questions I asked myself when I started training. And I honestly struggled in getting the information I was looking for on internet. Indeed, some fitness journals tend to focus too much on long-term goals that at the beginning are completely out of your interests! You rather need practical information to start out and stay motivated.
I won’t be able to clarify everything, but the list below should be a good starting point for anyone who wants to lace his/her running shoes!
Define your running goals
Before start looking for any specific plan you should ask yourself one simple question: why do I want to run? While setting up one main goal may help you in not giving up soon, identifying multiple reasons for running will provide the right support in critical moments, like an injury, the inability to train for family or working reasons or, more simply, a stressful period. For example, I run to stay fit, healthy and competitive. This allows me to fuel my motivation in different ways so that in those days when my performance sucks (and it often happens!) I focus more on nutrition or the mental benefits of running.
Your goals should be not too small and not too big: are you aiming to run a half marathon? Great, but how about aiming for a 10k first? By moving in small steps you keep your sense of accomplishment always alive.
Remember: your goals are your personal goals! Do not let others discourage you!
Buy a pair of running shoes
This might sound so obvious, but the worst mistake I made when I started to run was to wearing a generic pair of sneakers. Result? I got injured in one month!
Shoes are the most important accessories of your running equipment. They fall into 3 categories: neutral, stability and motion control.
Neutral shoes are thought for runners with high arch, mild pronation and light body frame. I usually run on neutral shoes and I am currently training with Brooks Ghost 10.
Motion control shoes are for heavy runners who need maximum cushioning and ankle stabilization. For a short period, I ran on Hoka Bondi 5 and I think they are great if you are looking for maximum shoes.
Do not choose your training shoes for aesthetic or brand reasons. Go to a running store, test your running biomechanics and ask for expert advice. Choosing the right pair of shoes is the first step in preventing injuries.
Find your running form
The majority of runners are heel strikers while other tend to land on their toes. Neither form is better than the other.
Heel striking is often associated with slow cadence. Slow cadence depends on a poor relationship between the forward movement and the foot contact on the pavement. Take a few seconds and try to focus on your running movement: the more time your feet spend on the ground the more energy is required to move forward. Increase your cadence by trying to reduce your strike frequency.
Compared to heel striking, forefoot running often leads to calf and achilles tendons injuries. Sometime it is also connected to overpronation.
My suggestion is to try to land on your midfoot. Midfoot striking reduces stress on the foot and makes landing a lot softer.
Find your training plan
Once you set up your goal, you probably will start googling for a training plan. You will find a confusing world, a lot of “experts” and conflicting advices. If you are a beginner, what I tell you is: stop searching! You are not going to win a race in a few weeks, so just focus your efforts on making a running a good habit.
There is no shortcut to start running: you need to walk! Follow a very simple run-walk method: walk 3-4 times a week, start with a 20’ workout and add 10’ to each session for a maximum of 90’. Proceed in this way for 4-5 weeks. You will prepare your muscles and tendons to support a real running exercise.
At this point, you should start running. During the first weeks, try to apply the same method as above. Start with a 20-30’ running session and add 10’ every week. After 4 weeks you should be able to run no stop for 1 hour.
If you signed up for a race and you are looking for your first training plan I suggest you to try MyAsics. I used MyAsics to prepare my first 10k and I can say that it is fairly good. It is an easy to use app that allows you to track your run, take a diary and train with 3 different types of workout: easy run, temporun and longrun.
Many will argue that the only way to become a runner is just running. Well, despite the fact that running all the time may be boring, by not working out the muscles that support your exercise you are more prone to injuries. A good approach is to run 3-4 times a week and cross train the other two. In this way, you give time to your body to recover from your running workouts, you can include variations (and fun!) and train a total of 5-6 days a week.
I am not a gym enthusiast (I cannot image myself working out indoor, especially during summer) but I always crosstrain. I think the best way to target the most important muscles is to exercise with bodyweight and band elastic routines.
Every runner has something to tell! Inspire and motivate others! Share with The Running Journey your running story and it will be published in the next post! 😉