Running late, running a tight ship, staying in the running – you probably do a lot of running, but do you ever run for fun?
This June celebrated Global Running Day, a worldwide celebration of the sport. Whether you’re looking to join the celebration or you’re just interested in the cardiovascular benefits, running doesn’t have to be a sport just for gazelle-like marathoners. These tips can help even beginners ease into running by preventing both injuries and boredom.
Lace up your kicks
Your worn-down sneakers in the back of your closet probably won’t cut it. Although many runners swear by barefoot running, making sure you have properly fitted running shoes can help prevent injuries and may make your running gait feel less laborious. Dartmouth-Hitchcock, an academic health system in New Hampshire, says people varying foot structures that need different kinds of support, such as a specific arch support. Ask an athletic specialist at a shoe store to help you fit the right fit.
Wear the right gear
100% cotton socks may trap moisture and lead to blisters. Try wearing lightweight fabric that wicks sweat, like polyester and nylon blends. In the winter, wear several light layers instead of one thick coat so you can tie jackets around your waist as you warm up. Protect your skin from cold wind with gloves, headbands, and scarves in the winter; in the summer, try wearing a hat with a brim to protect your face and eyes from sun damage. If you’re in doubt, Runners World has an excellent tool where you can enter weather conditions and find the best outfit.
Even if you are eager to push through your first run, being too ambitious can lead to injuries, according to Darthmouth-Hitchcock. First, check with your doctor to see if you have any medical conditions that can be exacerbated by running. Then, incorporate walk/run intervals and gradually increase your mileage as you feel comfortable. The Couch to 5K program is a popular resource for novice runners to transition from walking to running.
Mix up your workout
To challenge your body, develop cross-training, and prevent boredom, try other exercises. You can challenge your cardiovascular health and rest your joints by swimming, and you can develop the muscles you need for running by strength training your legs.
Change the scenery
Do you get bored staring at the numbers on the treadmill for a half an hour? If you have the chance, try mixing up your route. Take a weekend trip to a park or running trail for some green space. If you usually go north on your route, wake up your brain by going south.
Occupy your mind
I personally hate the sound of my feet hitting the ground and my heavy breathing gasping for air, so I like to drown out the sounds of my fatigue with music or podcasts. Some runners like listening to birds chirping and water splashing, some runners let their mind focus on projects they’re trying to finish, and some runners use their morning jog to meditate and clear their heads. Whatever you do for your mind, as long as you’re not thinking about your fatigue you probably won’t feel it as much.
Cool down and drink water
The run isn’t over when you slow down your stride. Set aside some time to cool down by walking and stretching. Don’t forget to rehydrate with the water you just spent sweating – yes, even in cold weather.