15 steps to becoming a runner

LETA SHY
Last updated 05:00 13/01/2014
Running

GET TO IT: Running isn't easy, but if you focus, prepare and set goals - success will be yours.

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Ever wanted to be a runner but didn't know how to start? We've rounded up 15 beginner running tips to help you start strong and stick with it. If you've ever been discouraged by how hard running seems, then read our tips for going from walker to runner without a hitch.

1. Invest in shoes

It's extremely important to find the right running shoes for your body; otherwise you'll be prone to running injuries that will derail even your best intentions.

Don't pick based on style or colour; go to a reputable running shoe store to get a professional gait analysis and recommendations; keep these expert tips on how to buy the right running shoe in mind as well.

In general, your running shoes should feel comfortable from day one. And while running shoes may not be cheap, they'll last a while.

2. Be prepared

As with any workout, you need the right gear to help you stay comfortable, safe, and happy while you run.

Planning for a run takes a little bit of forethought - when to go, what to eat, and what to wear should be part of your daily running checklist.

Keep sweat-wicking running clothes clean and ready to go, and check the weather so you know what to expect if you've planned a run that day.

You'll also need to plan your meals so you're not running when you're too full or when you're starving.

3. Start slow

Don't expect to be five kilometre-ready as soon as you begin your new running hobby.

At the beginning, running for even a minute without stopping can be hard - which can discourage even the most enthusiastic new runner.

Keep your expectations realistic, and move at your own pace, walking when you need to.

4. Warm up, cool down

Every run should begin and end with a few minutes to prime and soothe your body.

Start each run with a slow jog before your ramp up your speed, and before you hit the shower make sure you do a few post-run stretches to help relieve soreness, increase flexibility, and prevent injuries.

5. Fuel up

Feed those leg muscles with the right post-workout snack; it'll ensure that you're helping your muscles build and repair themselves.

After every run, make sure you eat a snack or meal that's high in carbs and protein, and ensure that you drink enough water after your run (as well as throughout the day).

6. Know your terms

Do you know how to fartlek? Are you an over- or under-pronator? Make like you're a marathoning pro by talking shop with the best of them.

These 10 terms every runner should know will help you understand your new hobby.

7. Variation is key

Once you're able to run for 30 minutes without stopping, it's time to step up to the next level. You should'nt run the same route at the same pace all the time; doing so will increase boredom and can lead to workout - and weight-loss - plateaus.

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Keep your workout varied by alternating routes, mixing treadmill time with outdoor runs, and incorporating intervals to keep things interesting and turn you into a bona fide runner.

8. Increase distance slowly

Now that running feels easier for you, you're probably ready to go for a longer run.

Make sure you adhere to the 10 percent rule, however; ramping up your distance too fast will cause overuse injuries like runner's knee or Achilles heel issues. Instead, increase your distance by no more than 10 percent of the previous week's total.

9. Make goals

Like any workout plan, it helps to have goals to keep you motivated.

You'll be more likely to stick with your running routine if you make a realistic goal, like signing up for a race.

Even if you run to lose weight, don't make that the entire reason why you run - doing so could cause you to become discouraged if you aren't seeing results fast enough.

10. Go outside

If your entire running career has been spent on the treadmill, then it's time to transition outside.

Outdoor running makes you a better runner, because the varied terrain strengthens different muscles than just treadmill running alone.

Note, however, that running outside is harder than on a treadmill, so be prepared wo work.

11. Stay safe

No matter where you choose to run, think about your safety first. This is especially true if you run outdoors without a buddy.

Pay attention to traffic, tell a loved one where and when you are going, and wear reflective clothing and a head lamp if you are heading out at night.

You should also learn how to tie your running shoes correctly so you won't trip over loose laces; the ingenious double knot ensures your laces stay put while still being easy to untie when you're done.

12. Fix your form

Noticing that your running form is far from perfect? Working on better posture and alignment while you run can help prevent overuse injuries.

Keep your form in mind when you run - relax your neck, raise your knees, engage your abs, and keep your arms parallel to the ground as you stride.

13. Strategise

Once you've gotten used to running, it's time to work on running strategies that will make you a faster, better runner.

Here are some strategies you should work into your running routine; aim for one of these strategies during most of your runs during the week:

- Sprinting intervals: Mix up your workout by sprinting at one-minute intervals; you'll help increase your speed and endurance 

- Tempo runs: These are runs where you run slightly faster than you're used to (but slower than a sprint); this helps you become a faster runner.

- Hill work: Go ahead - find an incline. Running up a hill is an amazing way to increase your endurance and become a faster runner.

14. Cross train

If you want to become a better runner, then you're going to have to do more than run.

Cross train with other complementary workouts to strengthen muscles that running neglects. A beginner's yoga sequence, for example, will help you stretch and strengthen. Aim to do some sort of strength-training workout twice a week.

15. Stick with it

There's no secret to becoming a runner; it's just a matter of sticking with your workout.

Once you've followed our tips to build your endurance, speed, and running confidence, don't undo your hard work with an extended bout on the couch.

Schedule your runs every week so you'll be sure to do them. And when someone asks you if you're a runner, remember to proudly say, "Yes!"

- PopSugar

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