A Beginner's Guide to Improving as a Runner
If you are just starting off in the world of running, even going out for a short jog can seem quite daunting. But if you have a particular distance you would like to run or time you would like to attain, you will want to see some improvements pretty quickly. Half the battle in running is overcoming the mental barriers which stand before you. Keep at it and you should notice that you start to enjoy the success that you are looking for. So, here is a beginner’s guide to accelerating through the gears as a runner.
Start Off Slow
Even if you are an impatient person, you are unlikely to be able to run for miles and miles on your first time out. An easy way to get into the sport is to make a schedule and stick to it as closely as you can. You need to aim for a sense of consistency if you are hoping to achieve success as quickly as you can. Some days are going to tough, but if you have the mental fortitude to keep at it, you may well be surprised by just what you can achieve. There is nothing wrong with starting off slow with a mix of running and walking to start off with. Gradually build up the amount of time spent running over time and you will help yourself to develop a sense of cardiovascular conditioning.
Run with Proper Form
Running can put a lot of strain on your body, and the last thing that you need is to run with poor form as this is much more likely to lead to some injuries. To start off with, you should avoid letting your arms cross over your body. Instead, they should be relaxed at your side, moving comfortably from front to back. When you are hitting the track, you should be putting the pressure on the balls of your feet rather than striking the heels.
Master Your Breath
The way that you breathe makes such a big difference to your performance on the running track. One of the keys is taking deep breaths to maximise oxygen inhalation. Short, shallow breaths are going to end with you feeling exhausted by the end of your run. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you can’t talk while you are running, it is likely that you are going too fast and you need to slow yourself down a bit.
Invest in the Right Shoes
The most important piece of equipment that you can buy as a runner is your shoes. Don’t simply stroll into your local sports shop and buy the first ones which catch your eye. If you go into a proper running store, they can conduct a gait analysis in which the way you run is analyzed and a pair of shoes is selected based on the results. You need to ensure that they fit correctly, and there is no uncomfortable rubbing anywhere. Potentially, these shoes could serve you for hundreds of miles, so you need to ensure that they are just right.
Set Yourself an Achievable Goal
One of the best ways of improving as a runner is by entering yourself into a race so you have something to work towards. Once you have entered the race, start telling people about the challenge that you have set for yourself Pick a charitable cause that is close to your heart, start raising some money, and you will have even more of a reason to achieve your goal. If you have never entered any kind of race before, a 5km fun run is a great starting point. It is achievable for a new runner to be ready for a race of this kind in just a couple of months.
Work On Your Strength Training
To keep your body strong and stop yourself from sustaining an injury, you should start doing some strength training to support your running. The most common area to get injured is the knee, and poor hip strength is a primary cause of this problem. Bridges, squats and hip extensions are just three of the exercises which can help you out in this area. And to stop yourself suffering from shin splints, ankle extensions are what you should focus on doing.
Keep Yourself Flexible
Flexibility is another central part of being a great runner, and you should always make sure to stretch properly both before and after completing a run. Not only are you likely to reduce the risk of sustaining an injury, you are also helping to reduce the chances of suffering from any tightness or soreness the next day. This is because you are helping to move the lactic acid away from your muscle tissues.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
The lifestyle you lead and what you put into your body can make such as huge difference when it comes to improving your running performance. Staying hydrated before, during, and after is one of the central aspects of running well. You should also try to eat a balanced diet and consume food and liquids which replace the sodium and potassium lost through sweating. You may find that running causes health issues like diarrhea or constipation which have various treatment options - the latter can be treated with Magnes. The amount of sleep you get on a nightly basis can also make a huge difference to how well you recover from your runs.
Give Yourself Time to Recover
There is no doubt that regular training helps you to become a better runner, but it isn’t going to do you any good at all unless you give your body enough time to recover. So, you should take days off which help you regain your strength both mentally and physically. If you don’t, you are much more likely to suffer from a muscle injury or something more serious. The amount of recovery time that you need depends on your experience as a runner and how far you have run. Even the pros need to give their bodies a bit of time to recover from the intense physical activity that they have put them through.
Avoid Overexerting Yourself
It may not make a great deal of sense, but there are some days which are going to to be harder than others. Over time, you should get used to listening to what your body is telling you. Sometimes, this means slowing down or cutting a run short. If you tell yourself that you need to finish no matter what, this approach is much more likely to result in an injury of some kind. On the flip side, there will be other days when you feel great and you feel like you could go much further if you had to. These are the times when you can really appreciate what has brought you to running in the first place.
If you have never been a runner before or you are just getting back into the sport after a long time off, there will be a host of obstacles in your way which you have to overcome. Hopefully, these tips have given you some basic techniques to follow which will help you to improve as a runner. Although you may want to up your skills as quickly as possible, you should also avoid overexerting yourself and causing any damage to your body. Keep putting one foot in front of the other on a regular basis, and the improvements will come!