Here are 5 tips to help get you started!
Written by: Dr. Patrick Schroeder, PT, DPT
Running is one of the most popular recreational exercise activities in the world, but it can be tough knowing how to start or what the appropriate amount is for you. Everyone has heard about the tremendous effects that running has on health, including decreasing your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and coronary heart disease.(5) Contrary to popular opinion, running a moderate amount has even been shown to decrease your chances of developing arthritis in your knees!(1) In order to set yourself up for the optimum amount of success when starting a run program, here are 5 tips to help you along the way.
1. Set Goals
It is important to set a goal for yourself prior to starting running. This can help when comprising a training plan. There is a big difference between training to run a mile, 5k, or longer races such as a half or full marathon. Setting an appropriate goal can help keep you motivated and on track to perform.
2. Start Slow
For multiple reasons when beginning a running program it is important to start slow. It can be tempting to push yourself hard right away to work up a great sweat and get your heart rate pumping, but this is not the best method for training. It is important to start at a low intensity to develop a strong aerobic base, which will allow for better endurance performance down the road. This means keeping the majority of your running at a pace where you could comfortably hold a conversation. This ensures that you are burning fat, rather than carbohydrates as your main fuel source. This fat burning will improve your body's endurance capabilities the more you train.(4) If it is hard to maintain a conversational pace while jogging, it is ok to start out by walking for several weeks before progressing to jogging.
3. Increase Gradually!
Starting a running program can feel daunting, especially for those who have none or little experience, have taken a long break from running, or are recovering from an injury. If you find yourself in one of these scenarios it is important to take things slowly in order to decrease your chances of injury by ramping up too soon. As a result it is important to gradually increase mileage each week. It has been shown that novice runners who keep their weekly mileage progression to less than 10% have a significantly lower rate of developing a running related injury than those who increase their mileage by more than 30% in the weeks leading up to an injury.(3) This means that if you run a total of 10 miles one week, you should ideally not run more than 11 miles the following week.
4. Keep it Fun!
The most important part of any exercise program is being consistent and sticking to the plan. This is often made easier by having some company on your runs. This can include running with friends or even joining a local running club. This can also help to keep you motivated on days when you are not totally feeling it!
5. Mix in some Resistance Training
Doing some resistance training can also be a very helpful addition to a run training program. This can help provide your legs with the strength to prepare for the loads placed on them with running. Research has also shown that increasing strength in your legs can also improve running performance, particularly at the end of a race or long run.(2) Here are some examples of some beneficial exercises you can work on with video links:
Lateral Band Walks(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PNlcgLyuUk)
Single Leg Heel raises(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6pKPV3MYvk)
Single Leg Deadlift(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtHxnWmMgzM)
These can be modified to be more or less challenging depending on your experience and level of fitness.
Good luck with the training, and don’t be afraid to reach out to a physical therapist at The Green Room for help along the way if needed!
1.Alentorn-Geli E, Samuelsson K, Musahl V, Green CL, Bhandari M, Karlsson J. The Association of Recreational and Competitive Running With Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. 2017;47(6):373-390. doi:https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2017.7137 2. Mikkola J, Vesterinen V, Taipale R, Capostagno B, Häkkinen K, Nummela A. Effect of resistance training regimens on treadmill running and neuromuscular performance in recreational endurance runners. Journal of Sports Sciences. 2011;29(13):1359-1371. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2011.589467
3.Nielsen RØ, Parner ET, Nohr EA, Sørensen H, Lind M, Rasmussen S. Excessive Progression in Weekly Running Distance and Risk of Running-Related Injuries: An Association Which Varies According to Type of Injury. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. 2014;44(10):739-747. doi:https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2014.5164
4.PhD RL. The Science Behind Zone 2 Exercise. Zero Longevity. Published May 16, 2022. https://zerolongevity.com/blog/the-science-behind-zone-2-exercise/
5.Williams PT, Thompson PD. Walking versus running for hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus risk reduction. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology. 2013;33(5):1085-1091. doi:https://doi.org/10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.300878