With summer around the corner, many of us are going to turn to running as a form of physical activity. Running is an excellent cardiovascular activity that you can enjoy all while soaking up the sun and getting some fresh air – Is there anything better during the summertime? However, for novice runners, or even runners who are returning to the sport after a prolonged hiatus, it can be difficult to know how to achieve your personal goals in a safe and efficient manner. Here are a few tips that will help you start running on the right foot:
→ Have a clear goal
When you start running, it is helpful to set up clear and reachable personal goals. The goal you set up for yourself can be based on a specific running distance or even a duration of time. It is important to make sure that the goal is achievable and realistic for your level. A realistic goal often chosen by beginners is to run a 5K or 30 minutes of continuous running. Once you’ve established your goal, it will be easier to choose an appropriate training plan to ensure that you achieve it.
→ Begin with an interval running program
An interval running training program is a program that alternates between walking and running, including multiple running outings per week. Why? This will allow your body to gradually get used to this new activity. For example, for a 10 minute outing, the program might suggest alternating between 1 minute of running and 1 minute of walking. For the following outings, the program will gradually increase the running versus walking ratio as well as the duration of the outings. If your personal goal is to be able to run for 30 minutes straight, your interval program will gradually increase the duration of continuous running and decrease the frequency of walking intervals.
Here is an interval running program designed by La Clinique du Coureur which is appropriate for a novice runner:
→ Listen to your body
Interval programs are simply guidelines to help you reach your goal. However, everyone is different and individual tolerance to specific activities will vary from person to person. For this reason, it is essential to listen to your body as you increase the length of your outings to prevent overtraining injuries. For example, if you notice ankle pain that starts to set in when you arrive on the 3rd day of week 3 of your program, this may be a sign that you are not ready to continue progressing to the next phase of the program, and to revert to the distance that you were able to run pain free.
With a clear goal, an interval program and a good awareness of your body, you’re ready to start running! Stay tuned for our upcoming topics that we will be covering in this series of articles on running; including warm-ups, common running injuries, pain management, types of running shoes and more.