Look, we get it. You want to start running. Sort of. But you’re not sure how to because you never have before. At least, not since the last time you were a kid – or late for work. And now you’re worried you’ll suck. That you’ll be one of those people that hop, skip and jump awkwardly down the sidewalk, arms flailing, eyes bulging. It’s entirely possible that could have happened to you. But it won’t now. Because these (surprisingly simple) tips will help you master running long before you hit the sidewalk.
Get that running form right
If you want to run effectively, having the correct form is really important. (It also prevents you from looking – and therefore, feeling – stupid.) A good form helps you add more time and mileage. Here are some steps you can take to keep your running form on point.
- Keep your head up and avoid looking at your feet or tilting your chin. Your ears should be in line with your shoulders. This basically helps you stick to the correct posture while running.
- Open your shoulders. Don’t tense up. Ideally, they should move independently of your torso and in opposites. So when you put your right foot forward, your left shoulder moves forward. Your right shoulder stays slightly behind as does your left leg. Repeat the pattern with every step of your run.
- The way you move your arms has a direct impact on your speed. Keep them at a 90 degree angle with your palms or fists moving from chin to hip, propelling your body forward. Your elbows should remain close to your sides.
- There are plenty of running devices that can help improve your form. For example, ARION smart soles are loaded with sensors that track every footstep, revealing an incredible range of running metrics like length, balance, contact time, pace, impulse, stability and flight time. (Click here to see our roundup of the best running gadgets for beginners.)
It’s all about patience
The truth is, if you’re not used to running, you’re probably not going to do a 10 mile jog that first time. Or the second. Before trying to run longer, figure out how long you can run. Keep going even if you feel tired and your legs ache. Set goals that first day – if you managed to run four minutes without stopping, aim for ten minutes by the end of the week. It’s more important to run a little everyday than to run for an hour once a week. When you’re setting your goals, just keep these three rules in mind:
- Run slower than you think you should.
- Don’t run as far as you think you should.
- Run more frequently than you think you should.
The run-walk method
Invented by Jeff Galloways to help marathon runners, this method is simple and effective for avoiding injury, boosting motivation and improving endurance. It’s also a great option for people who are just starting to run.
- Warm up starts with a five-minute walk and some basic stretches. After you’re done warming up, run for a short time and then take a walking break (before you get too tired). If you’re a beginner, stick to shorter run times and longer walk times – like one minute of running followed by seven minutes of walking. Keep repeating the pattern until you’ve covered your goal distance or time.
- Start your walk before you’re feeling too tired to run more. This lets your muscles recover instantly, extending the time and distance you can cover. If you’re exhausted by the time you switch to your walk, you won’t be able to walk quickly and it will be hard to start running again.
- Keep a good pace when you’re walking. It’s not a leisurely stroll. Use good walking form and pump your arms (to keep your heart rate elevated). It helps make the transition back to running easier.
- Slowly, over a period of time, extend the amount you’re running and reduce your walking time.
The right shoes
If you start running, you get to go shopping. Yay. That’s because the right running shoe is incredibly important. The wrong shoes won’t just feel uncomfortable. It will also add pressure to your joints, causing problems in the long run. There are three important categories to consider:
- Weight (lighter shoes are faster but heavier shoes are better for distance)
- Drop (how much your toes drop below your heel)
- Cushioning (for impact absorption)
The right shoes are so essential that we’ve given them their own article. Read it here.