Have you decided to improve your fitness? A well-structured running program is perfect for beginners to build up their strength and endurance. Before lacing up your shoes, check out these 8 extremely useful tips from running expert Sascha Wingenfeld.
1. Start with short running intervals
Are you super-excited to start your running training? As a beginner, you shouldn't plan on running the entire distance in one go. "Break it down into intervals and try to keep them short at the beginning. Walk between the intervals so you can recover a little," recommends Sascha Wingenfeld. After some time, you can start lengthening the running sections and reducing the walking: begin by alternating between 2 minutes of jogging and 2 minutes of walking. Increase your running intervals by one minute per workout until you can run the entire distance at a stretch without having to walk.
Expert tip: "Run the first few sessions naturally and without any expectations. Otherwise, you're likely to lose your motivation."
2. Don't start out too fast
Your body has to get used to the new stresses and strains of running. Many beginners start out running too fast and pay the price for this mistake within just a few minutes. Frustration, overexertion, pain or even injuries are just some of the consequences. Therefore, run your first workout at a moderate pace, i.e. where you can easily hold a conversation. "Even when you feel like cutting loose, you should maintain the same pace for the entire distance. Only those who give their body time to gradually get used to the new demands will have long-term success."
3. Your body needs time to recover
Your first run went well and you want to head out again right away? Great! :) But you should wait a day before attempting the next workout: your body needs to rest so it can recover from the first running session. "It must adapt to the new demands on the cardiovascular system and prepare your muscles and bones for the next run," says Sascha. Schedule your training so you run one day and rest the next. This simple training plan can help beginners achieve the greatest training effect and avoid overuse injuries.
4. Run easy and take short steps
Running is a technically challenging sport. Many beginners don't have the proper technique and make jogging harder than it has to be by wasting a lot of energy. Your body develops the coordination necessary to perform the complex sequence of movements with every kilometer or mile that you run. "Try to run relaxed and effortlessly as possible. Short, easy steps are more effective than long, powerful strides that act as a brake, slowing your forward momentum with every footfall."
5. Choose the right surface
Many beginners wonder what kind of surface they should be running on. "That depends on the particular workout." As is often the case, a mix of different surfaces is the right choice:
- Running on pavement is ideal for fast running – there is very little danger of turning your ankle. "However, it's hard on your joints because the pavement does not cushion your steps," explains Sascha Wingenfeld. "Therefore, running on this surface is only for very light runners with good form."
- A forest or park floor is soft and provides excellent cushioning. However, the risk of injury increases due to roots, rocks and bumps.
- A sandy surface trains your muscles and makes you lift your feet. But be careful because it's easy to overwork your calf muscles.
- Tartan (an all-weather synthetic track surface) is springy. One drawback: it puts a lot of stress on your Achilles tendon."
- The treadmill allows you to train year round with good cushioning. "However, this type of running training requires you to alter your form because the belt moves beneath your feet."
6. Don't get worked up about side aches
Many people suffer from side aches when jogging. Sascha's advice is to avoid eating anything solid about two hours before your workout and only drink in small quantities. When a side ache does strike, take a break and walk. "Breath calmly and in a relaxed rhythm. Press your hands against the side that hurts." Don't start running again (and then only slowly) until the pain has gone away.
7. Take care of your body
Running is a full-body workout. "Your core is the control center. Through it, your arm swing influences every movement from your hips down, including step length and cadence." In order to run tall, you need a strong, healthy, stable core. The rest of your muscles should also be in good shape so you can run light on your feet. Plus, a well-conditioned body helps prevent overuse and compensation injuries. This applies for all the body parts involved in running. "Regular strength training leads to better running performance."
8. Make sure to cross train
Your heart loves variety, and doing different types of sports also reduces the stress running places on your joints and spine. Plus, it keeps things from getting boring. "And this helps keep your love of running alive," says Sascha in conclusion.
Register to iLuvRun races today and start your running training!