With the scenic changing of the leaves and cool, crisp air, autumn may be one of the best times of year to come through on your vow. Perhaps you’ve thought about it many times before but now is finally the time you’re going to make it happen: the day when you get outside and start the process of becoming a runner.
The benefits of running regularly are numerous and varied. Running can strengthen your cardiovascular system, increase bone density and bone mass, and improve mental and emotional wellbeing. Studies have also shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers and a host of other dangerous conditions.
Best of all, to become a runner, all you need is a good pair of shoes, a place to run and the will to commit and stick with it, especially in the early stages. The toughest part is simply getting motivated enough to get out there and start the process.
It takes new runners some time to build up enough endurance to run for a short period of time, but once you get to this point, everything will become much easier. For this reason and because it takes the body some time to adapt to the physical demands of running, it’s extremely important to start slowly to avoid burnout and injury. To help safely guide your entrance into the field of running, ARS Hand and Physical Therapy recommends these important tips for new runners:
- **If you’re over 40, not accustomed to any exercise, or are more than 20 pounds overweight, talk to your doctor before starting to run**
- Having the right pair of running shoes is of utmost importance; go to a running store and get fitted for shoes that support your individual foot
- Though not essential, having some running shorts and clothes with breathable fabrics will make you more comfortable while running
- If necessary, start by walking with some running mixed into your walks; gradually increase the amount of running in each workout and focus on going further rather than harder once you get more comfortable
- Listen to your body for pain while running and use the “talk test”—being able to have a conversation—to ensure you’re going at a good pace
- Don’t overtrain and allow your body sufficient time to rest and recover
- Schedule your runs and do your best to stick with your plan
- Don’t rush: be patient and go slow at first; expect bad days and don’t get discouraged; it takes time to feel comfortable running for a while
- Eat well-balanced, smaller and more frequent meals with lots of fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, lean protein and good fats
As a beginner runner, a good goal is to be able to run for 30 minutes (about two miles or more) at a slow, relaxed pace. From there, the potential for improvement is endless. For more advice on how to safely and efficiently get started as a runner, or for any pain you might experience in the process, ARS Hand and Physical Therapy can help. Call 973-379-7006 for more information or to schedule an appointment.