How to Start a Running Routine
You don't need to train for a marathon to start running and enjoying the benefits that come with it – anyone can start running! Lifters may take on this intense cardio session during a cutting phase or they may just take it up to build better stamina and endurance. Whatever the reason, there are many benefits of running aside from weight loss.
However, for many, running can seem intimidating and even impossible... we're here to tell you and motivate you to go for it! Trying something new always causes a certain level of anxiety, but with that comes excitement and feeling accomplished once you prove yourself wrong. As intimidating or difficult as running may sound, getting started is quite easy, especially when you know the right tips and tricks!
Keep on reading to learn more on how to get started running and incorporate it into your weight training routine effectively!
Try the run-walk method first
The first and most important thing when it comes to getting started running is to start slow and work your way up! You might be highly motivated at first to hit the pavement running, but doing so can put a lot of pressure on your joints if they're not used to it. Plus, you don't want to burn yourself out within the first few weeks and then give up running forever!
Instead, take things slowly by implementing a run-walk method. This involves dividing your run into intervals with running and walking. You can start by walking for 2-5 minutes (to warm up), run for 2-5 minutes, and keep alternating. You can run longer and implement short walks, or walk and run for an equal amount of time – find a pace that works for you. This will help you build endurance as you make progress, and allows you to work your way up to longer running intervals at a steady pace.
Practice good running form
Just like with weight lifting, good form is a must! You can't just put on your running shoes and start running – you have to learn proper running form to avoid injuries.
To run properly, follow these tips...
- Keep an upright posture: Make sure that your posture is upright, meaning your head is lifting, back is upright, and shoulders are relaxed and leveled.
- Don't round your shoulders: This goes hand-in-hand with the tip above, but it must be emphasized! Make sure that your shoulders are relaxed because rounding too far forward can tighten the chest and restrict your breathing.
- Naturally swing arms: Have a 90-degree bend at the elbow and using your shoulder joint, not the elbow joint, naturally swing your arms. Don't forcefully swing them.
- Keep hands closely cupped: Keep your hands relaxed by gently cupping them closely. Avoid flinching them because that can lead to tension in your arms all the way to your neck.
- Focus your eyes 10-20 feet in front of you: Your head should be slightly forward with chin tucked slightly, do this by focusing your eyes a few feet ahead of you. This will also help ensure that your shoulders aren't rounded.
- Breathe normally: Find a good, natural breathing pace by breathing through your mouth and/or nose with mouth slightly open.
Learn the different running workouts
Once you get the hang of your running routine, keep things fun by trying different running workouts! Running the same number of miles a few times a week might get boring after a while and lead you to quit running altogether, so by trying different running workouts you'll stay motivated on your running journey.
Here are the most popular running workouts you can try as you make progress:
- 30 minute hill run: Intensify your run and burn more calories by running uphill. You can do this either outdoors on an actually hill or set your treadmill at an appropriate incline. Warm up for for 5-10 minutes with a walk or easy jog and increase your speed and incline gradually after your warmup. For example, on a treadmill, increase the incline around 4-5% (depending on your fitness level) and run for 2-5 minutes. Then reduce the incline back to 1% and reduce your speed slightly for a recovery interval of 1-2 minutes (or until your breathing is back down to normal). Repeat work and recovery intervals for a total of 7 times or until you've completed 30 minutes.
- 30 minute sprint interval workout: This is another intense running workout that burns a lot of calories, but doesn't require you to run uphill. Instead, you'll be alternating between sprinting and recovery intervals. Start with a 5 minute easy jog, and after increase the speed so that it is fast (not sprinting for the first two times), and run for 30 seconds. Decrease the speed and recover for one minute. Gradually work your way up to a spring as you alternate run/recover cycles. Cool down with a 5 minute walk.
- Tempo run: Tempo runs are similar to a sprint workout in that they require you to push yourself to 85-90% of your max heart rate, alternating with a recovery period. The exception is the running pace is typically 5-15 minutes. For example, a 40 minute tempo run requires 3 x 5 minute runs at a tempo pace (fast) with a 3 minute recovery in between each cycle. You can increase the intensity by doing a 60 minute run with 3 x 8 minutes at a tempo pace and a 4 minute recovery, or a 90 minute run with 3 x 15 minutes at tempo pace and an 8 minute recovery.
However, remember you want to gradually work your way up to more intense running workouts! So, only try these out once you've mastered running and need something to spice up your workouts.
Stretch before and after your run
Lightly walking and jogging before your run could be considered a good warm-up and cool down, but take the time to actually stretch too! Before you hit the pavement (or treadmill) take five minutes to do a few dynamic stretches to help loosen up your muscles and joints. Dynamic exercises are great for a warm up because they prep your body to move through a full range of movement. For example, you can do arm swings, hip rotations, and leg swings to warm up your upper and lower body.
Static stretches are best for after your run because they help relieve muscle cramping, can help decrease muscle soreness, and even improve range of motion in the joints. So, after your run do a few lower body stretches, like the figure four stretch, standing quad stretch, and calf stretches.
Find the right balance with your workout routine
Most people that run also follow other workout programs, like lifting weights! Weightlifting and running are both high-intensity workouts, so not setting up your running program accordingly can lead to a serious overuse injury. To avoid that, balance your workout routine! You can either schedule your running workouts separate from your lifting sessions, meaning on completely different days or do it on the same day.
But, is it better to run before or after a workout?
It really depends on what your goal is! If your main fitness goal is to build serious muscle, lift first and run second. Lifting requires a lot of energy and you want most of your energy going towards that, running beforehand will only leave your muscles fatigued before your lift.
If your main goal is to lose weight, alternate between running and lifting first! Lifting is just as good as burning fat as running, so you can either lift first or after your run – it's up to you!
However, if your main goal is to build endurance (or your training for a marathon), run first! Lifting first will lead to you feeling fatigued and can interfere with your aerobic capacity, therefore you should prioritize running over lifting.
Don't overdo it
Don't be afraid to take rest days! Some runners tend to overdo it and run every day, but doing this can lead to an injury overtime. Running, especially on pavement, is taxing on your joints and overdoing it can lead to a lot of wear and tear over time – so keep that in mind!
Beginners start with two runs a week, and as you make progress you can increase that number to three to four runs a week. Make sure to balance your workouts accordingly, as we mentioned above, by allowing your muscles and joints to rest for at least 24-48 hours. So, don't run on back-to-back days. Instead, do active recovery or work your upper body a day after your run!
Consider what you eat before (and after) a run
Take your pre and post-workout nutrition seriously! What you eat before your run will supply you with energy, while what you eat after will help your recovery process.
At least two hours before your run, eat something light. Make sure it has adequate amounts of carb and protein to fuel your muscles. For example, Greek yogurt mixed with some fruit. It's light, contains simple carbs to fuel your muscles and high-quality protein to prevent muscle breakdown.
However, if you prefer to workout on an empty stomach, take a pre-workout supplement to boost your energy. Just like with lifting, there are pre-workouts for running available that help give you an energy boost and improve your endurance.
For example, look for a pre-workout with adequate amount of beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is known to reduce lactic acid build up (which can interfere with your run) and improve your exercise capacity so that you're less fatigued! Also, make sure that your pre-workout has optimal doses of each ingredient. This will ensure you're getting more of the actual stuff you need, and less unnecessary fillers and additives!
Follow the tips above and you'll be on the right track to becoming the runner you've always wanted to be! Remember, slow and steady wins the race, so take it slow and balance running with your other workouts accordingly to avoid an injury.
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