By Melissa Kay, Contributing blogger
Running is a popular form of exercise that can be done nearly anywhere. No matter your fitness level, running provides an all-around excellent cardiovascular workout, and incorporates all the major muscle groups as they work simultaneously. As you run, you develop strength and stamina, pushing you through each run, making you stronger as you continue to strive to reach the next level.
If you are new to running, these five tips are crucial for a safe and effective run. Those who are already avid runners can review them as a reminder to remain diligent and determined to make each run as rewarding as possible.
1. Well-Fitting And Supportive Sneakers
You don’t have to spend a fortune to find a decent running shoe that will protect your feet, absorb impact as you pound the pavement, and support your stride. Not any old sneaker is ideal for running, so seek out a pair that is designed for running specifically. There are many excellent options to peruse online, and if you are able to go to a sneaker store, talk with a sales associate about options that will best suit your shape, size, and running endeavors. Try on a few pairs to test the differences, and go for comfort and quality before tapping into trends. Fashion is fun, but functionality comes first.
2. Find A Safe Running Route
If you are an outdoor runner (meaning not on a treadmill at home or at the gym), finding a safe place to run is highly recommended. Whether you live in a small town or a big city, the path you choose is critical. Living near a park has its perks, as does proximity to running trails, and even tracks at a school or recreation facility. If you have to find your own route, be sure it is not secluded or sketchy. Run during daylight hours if possible, or be sure to wear reflective clothing for nighttime runs. If you can run with a partner, or a group, even better, and always let someone know when you’re off for a run and where you plan to be, just in case.
3. Listen To Your Body
Aches and pains, as well as soreness and stiffness are signs that you may be overdoing it. A slight cramp or a bit of tightness is expected, but when you do not seem to recover in a timely fashion, take a cue from your body and rest. Perhaps pick a day or two each week where you don’t go for your usual run, or cut down on the distance or duration. Running through a potential injury could create a longer-term problem that will impact your greater goals. Warm up before runs, stretch afterwards, and see a doctor if something seems especially concerning.
4. Stay Well-Hydrated
Your body needs plenty of hydration to function properly during your runs. Drink water before, during, and after each run, and up your intake on hotter days and when you’re pushing harder. If you have reached a point where you already feel thirsty, it means your body is already in a state of dehydration. Along with hydration, be sure you are well-fueled with nutritious food so your energy supply is substantial.
5. Set Attainable Goals
New runners may want to gear up for grand accomplishments, but take things one step at a time…quite literally. You need to build up your endurance over time, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t clock in or cover the miles you’d expected to right off the bat. Longer-term runners seeking to step up their workouts may find that it is more difficult than it seems to run faster or longer, even if they have been running for years. Take your time to reach new stages in your running journey by setting goals that are actually achievable. There is always room for improvement, but that doesn’t mean it’ll come in an instant.
Have fun running! Be safe, smart, and strong. Your running will do amazing things for your body, mind, and soul.