Picking up an inexpensive pair of cute running shoes at your local discount store might be cost effective and convenient, but getting properly fitted is important. Running shoes are designed to correct biomechanical issues, provide cushioning and protection against hard surfaces like cement, and choosing the wrong ones can lead to problems. Visit your local running store to get measured and talk to an expert.
DON’T – Get discouraged if running feels hard
Running is hard. If you’re new to the sport, you might think you’re just not cut out to be a runner. Be patient, because it takes a little while for your body to adapt. Take it slow and stick with it for a few weeks – you might find that it gets easier quickly if you don’t expect yourself to be perfect at it right away.
DO – Use an interval timer
Using alternating intervals of running and walking is an awesome approach for new runners. But just running until you’re tired and then walking doesn’t set you up for success. Download a free timing app for your phone, or pick up an inexpensive interval timer such as the Gymboss and start out with 30 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking, 10 times. After that starts to feel easy, you add 15 seconds of running to each interval, and progress from there.
DON’T – Try to increase more than 10% from one week to another
Doing too much too soon is the number one cause of injuries in new runners. Just because your body will let you go 5 miles on your second day, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Add distance slowly from week to week to ensure your body has time to adapt.
DO – Run facing traffic
This one might not seem obvious, but you should never walk or run in the same direction as the traffic next to you. When you have your back to oncoming vehicles, you are at risk of getting hit because you can’t see what’s coming. Cross the street if you need to, and run facing the traffic coming at you so you can take evasive action in time.
DON’T – Lengthen your stride to go faster – take shorter steps instead
Lengthening your stride might make it seem like you’re going faster, but by allowing your heel to strike the ground too far in front of your body, you set yourself up for injury. Take shorter steps, and more of them, if you want to go faster. Aim to have your foot land almost directly below your hips.
DO – Warm up with 5 minutes of walking before you start running
A warmup walk eases your heart, lungs and muscles into the effort of running. This can help with your breathing, prevent side stitches and shin splints, and make running feel a lot easier.