Fall is almost here which means cooler weather, gorgeous outdoor scenery, and peak season for races. Tired of seeing all of your friends post pictures on Facebook and Instagram from their Tough Mudder or recent 5k? There’s no reason why you can’t join them– but you’ll want to pace yourself and follow these tips for new runners.
Tips for New Runners
Though there is plenty of information out there telling you how to get started, getting into a running routine can take time. “As I tell my patients training isn’t always quick and simple,” Rahul Kapur, MD, CAQSM, a sports medicine physician at Penn Medicine says.
Gradually increase the intensity of your run to avoid injury and burnout. Taking it slow allows your body to adapt and recover; once you have built endurance, you can focus on increasing speed and distance.
Before anything else, I tell runners—especially new runners— that it’s extremely important to focus on maintaining the right running mechanics or techniques,” Dr. Kapur says. “You should be able to keep your pace and form through the entire run without getting fatigued or injured.”
If you can finish your run, but you’re limping on the way home, that’s not a successful run”.
Make it Fun
Overall, running has been on a decline for the first time in decades. Many believe this to be due to the rise of millennials taking a wider variety of fitness classes. Simply put, many millennials are bored with running.
Running the same route at the same time every day for the same duration of time will quickly become tedious and feel more like a chore. If this is what your running routine looks like, it’s time to change things up. Try running with a friend (or a few!) and try a new route for a change of scenery. Sign up for fun races that include a theme or obstacle course to make things more interesting and so that you’ll have a goal to work towards. When you find new ways to make running enjoyable, you’ll be less likely to grow bored of it and give it up.
Make Time for Running
Even if it’s a challenge, Kate E. Temme, MD, a sports medicine physician at Penn Medicine encourages individuals to carve out some time to run or do another type of physical activity. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, exercise can give you a health boost in numerous ways, such as:
- Keeping your weight under control
- Reducing your risk for cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease
- Making your bones and muscles stronger
- Improving your mood
You’ll be doing yourself a favor if you exercise. “Getting regular physical activity can also make it easier to do everyday activities, and may even extend your life,” Dr. Temme says. “Finding time to care for yourself is critical to your health.
Take Care of Your Body
While running is excellent exercise, it’s important for new runners to be aware of injury risks and how to avoid them.
There are three main areas to be aware of: the knee, lower leg, and foot/ankle area. “Your lower limbs absorb major force when you run,” Dr. Kapur explains. Here are some of the most common types of injuries, according to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS):
- Runner’s knee: Pain from overuse or misalignment of the kneecap
- Shin splints: Pain in the muscles and bone tissue in or near the shinbone
- Foot and ankle injuries: There are many types, such as a stress fracture (a small crack in the bone) or an ankle sprain (overstretching of a ligament)
Strengthening your core can help prevent injuries and make your form more efficient. Incorporating other forms of exercise into your routine will help keep these muscles strong and your body balanced.
Proper training can dramatically reduce running-related injuries. Be sure to:
- Do warm-up and stretching exercises
- Whenever possible, run on a smooth and even surface
- Wear properly fitting shoes and avoid putting on excessive clothing
- Keep yourself hydrated
Ready to start your running routine? You don’t need to wait until you have an injury to see a physician.