For the most part, I've always done my best to live a healthy lifestyle. I've been a vegetarian since I was 15, I have a green smoothie for breakfast every morning, I've done yoga for years, and I try to walk as much as possible. But recently, in an effort to drop these few remaining pounds of baby weight and get stronger in general, I came to the conclusion that it was time to take it up a notch. So I decided to start running. Or at least try it out.
I should preface this by saying that I am not a "woohoo, let's hit the gym!" type of person. At all. I loathe cardio. I was in track in middle school, and it ended up being one of the only activities in my life that I quit half way through. I am not a runner by nature. But I am determined.
I am also not a running expert. My husband, however, has been running on and off his entire life, and in the past year, has started running marathons and half-marathons. He runs several times a week - sometimes everyday. So I asked him to share some tips with me, which, as a beginning runner myself, I've found to be incredibly useful. I thought I'd share them here as well, in case any of you have been thinking about starting a running routine of your own.
1. Get a pair of good running shoes. This is probably the most important tip of all, and the one on which I'm going to go into the most detail. My first run was earlier this summer and I ran with shoes that weren't designed for running, against the advice of my husband. I ended up with shin splints and horrible pain in my knees that kept me from running (or even going for walks) for almost two weeks. Thankfully, I wised up, did some research on women's running shoes, and ultimately chose a pair of Nike Women's Flyknit Lunar 2 trainers from JD Sports. (And in a world of ultra bright running shoes, of course I chose black. I'm not predictable at all in my fashion color choices, am I?) The difference with these shoes, both during and after running, is astounding. They're probably the lightest weight shoes I've ever put on my feet, but they're also incredibly supportive. My joints immediately felt the difference when my feet hit the pavement - rather than harsh shocks up through my legs, I felt cushioned and comfortable. The fit is ideal as well - the upper hugs my feet without feeling constrained. After a couple of wears they started to feel like they were custom molded to my feet, which was beyond cool. Whereas my other shoes felt like they were taking away from my run because I was constantly aware of them (as were my joints - ow!), these feel like they're supplementing my run (and feel weightless on my joints). Even if you're only planning on going for the occasional run, your body will thank you for investing in a great pair of shoes meant specifically for running. (Note: Robbie also suggests going up a size in running shoes from your regular shoes, as your feet actually increase in size when you run. True story.)
2. Follow the 'slow and steady wins the race' mantra. Don't push yourself to go fast or for too long at first. Running at a gentle speed and slowly increasing distance will allow your body to develop the proper muscles and more easily convert oxygen to energy over time. You can also run/walk/run/walk (this is what I do). And don't forget to stretch afterward.
3. Change things up. Running the same route every time will eventually become boring. Try running in different places. It makes for more interesting runs, which will ultimately motivate you to continue more than if you followed a repetitive routine. It will also work out different parts of your body since you'll be running on different terrains.
4. Allow time for rest and recovery. I tend to get really pumped about new things, and I want to go all out immediately. Even after my first run and the intense pain that my bad shoes caused, I wanted to go again the next day. Robbie encouraged me to be patient and allow myself to recover, so I did. And he still has to remind me between runs to take time for rest. This is important for building muscle and also to avoid injury, especially if you're just starting out like I am.
5. Stay hydrated. This one might seem obvious, but it's something I tend to forget, and it's imperative. If Robbie is going on a long run, he will drive to a half-way point in advance and hide a bottle of water so that he doesn't have to run with it, or he'll plan to run by a park with drinking fountains. If he's running with our baby, he puts a water bottle in the jogging stroller. We always remember to drink extra water throughout the day on run days too. (Note: Robbie says to freeze a water bottle the night before a run if you plan to stash it half way. That way it will be nice and cold when you run by and pick it up!)
I hope that these tips are helpful to those of you who are beginning runners or thinking of starting a running routine! Now that I finally have a pair of great running shoes, I'm planning on making it a regular part of my life as much as possible. I'd love to hear any tips or suggestions you guys might have as well!