Running 101: How to get started

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Creating and sticking to a running routine isn’t difficult, but it will require some time and patience

Perhaps you want to shake up your workout routine, or perhaps you’d like to train for race just so you can say you’ve done it, or maybe you just want an excuse to take advantage of the great weather. Whatever your reason for want to start running, there are certain step you need to take before you take off down the running track.

Running is a relatively simple sport – it doesn’t require equipment and almost anyone can do it so planning a routine might seem a bit silly. But getting to grips with a couple of basics will ensure that you get the most enjoyment out of it while making your workouts effective.

Visit your doctor

Before starting any new exercise program, particularly if you haven’t been very active, it’s generally advisable to get a medical check-up beforehand. Aside from monitoring your cholesterol and blood pressure, your doctor might be able to offer some advice. If you’ve had an injury or you take medication regularly, your doctor will be able to give you specific guidelines.

Get the right gear
The most important invest you will make when it comes to running is your shoes. Make sure they suit your foot and your running style. They should fit comfortably and give your foot a little bit of room.

An optional extra is clothing made of moisture wicking fabric to keep the sweat off your skin, but if you’re an absolute beginner then making this purchase immediately isn’t necessary, but nice to have.

Avoid injury and stay safe
You wouldn’t walk over to the squat rack and suddenly start with 100KG, and the same principle applies to running. Make sure you do a proper warm up to avoid any injury – do a light five-minute walk and include some light stretching before you increase your intensity.

If you are road running, make sure that you go against the traffic – run on the side of the road with oncoming traffic so you can see what is coming towards you. Also, make sure you carry some form of ID with and emergency contact number in the event of an accident.

Plan your schedule
It’s generally accepted that most people benefit from exercising for 30 minutes three to five times per week, so this a good starting point. However, don’t think that you have to break into a run and keep it up for the full 30 minutes – that is the quickest way to injure yourself and put you off running.

Alternate walking for two minutes and running for one. As your fitness and stamina improve, extend the time you run and reduce the time you walk. Soon you’ll be able to run for longer stretches and before you know it, you’ll manage for the duration of your workout. As a beginner, focus less on the distance you’re running and more on the amount of time you can run before taking a break.

Expect a bit of discomfort
With any new training program your muscles will hurt as you build your strength. Your legs will be stiff and sore in the beginning, but with regular workouts it will subside quite quickly. The most common injury is shin splints – pain along the shin bone – and generally occurs when you overdo your training or wear the wrong shoes. Pay attention to your body so you are aware of the difference between being tired and being injured, and make sure you’re not encouraging overuse injuries.

At the end of each workout, make sure you cool down properly.

Set goals
Once you’ve hit your stride with your running program, consider reaching out to your local running club so you can join them for social group runs. If you feel like testing your abilities, you can always train towards a 5K, 10K or even a full marathon.

Running may seem a little bit daunting at first, but it’s worth developing the habit if it interests you. Doing it regularly can reduce your risk of long-term illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, while boosting your mood and keep your weight under control. Plus, it can be a great social activity that gets you outdoors and helps you meet like-minded people.

Healthy Living is a frequently updated content section brought to you by the Saudi Sports for All Federation. In the spirit of supporting our #HealthyActiveCommunity, we’re sharing tips around wellness, physical activity and more!

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