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Running for Beginners

October 5, 2017 by HealthyFamiliesBC

Running for Beginners

Running is one of the simplest activities you can do. It’s a great way to achieve 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity weekly and to keep your bones strong.

If you haven’t run in a while or are starting out for the first time, it can be a bit intimidating. Take comfort in knowing that our bodies are super adaptable.

So what steps do I recommend you take if you want to start running?

Start slowly. Give your body enough time to adjust and recover while slowly increasing how much you do. Your body will become stronger and more resilient. I know you might be an eager tiger, but you can always add more running time as you progress. How much to begin with is individual. For example:

  • If you’re already active in other ways and do not have health problems, you may be able to start with three 30 minute runs per week while continuing to cross-train in other sports. Gradually increase your time spent running.
  • If you’re not currently active, start with a walk/run program. Run for two to four minutes and walk one to two minutes for a total of 20 to 30 minutes. Repeat this three to four times twice per week. You can gradually increase the running part until you no longer need to walk. Give the Qualified Exercise Professionals at Healthlink BC a call by dialing 8-1-1 to get advice specific to you.

Other things to consider:

  • Equipment. You need a good pair of shoes. Nope, your grade 11 gym class sneakers won’t cut it. I look for comfort and support when buying shoes. Here are a few other hints. I know some people who purchase clothing specific to running, but it’s not a necessity. Wear comfortable clothes that are non-restrictive.
  • Clinics. Consider attending a “learn to run” or “running for beginners” clinic. Groups like these will help with basic techniques, setting a schedule that works for you, and they’re a great opportunity to meet like-minded people. Being part of a group often helps people commit to sticking it out in the long run.

Running is fun, but being injured isn’t; here’s how to stay on the road and out the doctor’s office.

There’s sometimes a perception that running is bad for your knees and may cause conditions such as arthritis. Of course if you go from zero to six runs per week, it is more likely that you will get injured. But on the reverse, studies (here and here) show that seasoned runners aren’t really at risk for osteoarthritis.

Ways to prevent injuries and keep running for the long-term:

  • Try starting your runs on “softer” surfaces like rubberized tracks, or dirt paths. Concrete, brick, and stone are quite hard.
  • Put a day of cross-training in between your running days. For example, ride your mountain bike, go for a swim or go sailing.
  • Consider doing core work and mobility work to stay strong and limber.
  • If something hurts, STOP and go see a physiotherapist or sports medicine physician. It’s normal to feel some muscle pain initially, but it’s best to seek professional help for severe muscle pain and stiffness.

Do you want to start running? Being gradual and seeking the appropriate help and resources will help keep you healthy and injury free. Call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 if you have questions!

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