How to start running like a pro
Why should I start running?
- It helps improve cardiovascular health, reducing your risk cardiovascular disease by 45%
- It makes your brain healthier, improves cognition and reverses cognitive and neural decline
- It helps relieve stress
- It improves sleep quality
- It makes your bones stronger and improves motor skills
- It boosts your confidence
All you need is a good pair of running shoes and you’re set to go!
How can running boost brain power?
- An experimental study conducted at the University of Muenster (Germany) found immediate beneficial effects of running on cognition. You learn new information 20% faster after a run.
- A study by Jim McKenna from the University of Bristol showed that running improves work performance, time management, and mental sharpness. When your brain is performing at full capacity, you can focus, concentrate, and make better decisions – just what you need to be more productive and efficient.
- 30-40 minutes of running stimulates the creation of new nerve cells and blood vessels in the brain, says Karen Postal, president of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology. This means running is good for your mental health as well.
- Running promotes the release of endorphins that have effects similar to antidepressants. Running for over 20 minutes can reduce anxiety. You can also find that your outlook is more positive after a run and that things that were troubling you no longer feel so bad.
How to pick the right shoes for running?
- Consider what type of running you will do
Road or rail running? Road shoes are designed to support repetitive strikes on hard surfaces. Trail-running shoes have more tread and offer more traction for gripping rocks, mud and roots. If you do a lot of running, consider getting a high mileage shoe, which should have more cushion and support compared to shoes for shorter distances.
- Define your running style
Dr. Tan recommends looking at an old pair of shoes: Are the soles worn evenly? Is one side of the shoe more worn than the other? Is the padding on the inside worn away in areas? Over-pronators wear down the outside of the shoe first and need a motion control or stability shoe. Under-pronators wear down the outside of the shoe and need a neutral or extra-cushioning shoe.
- Get new shoes
Replace your shoes every 500 miles to maintain continued structural integrity of the shoe and its support to your foot and ankle.
Finally, if you are experiencing any pain during running, it may point to a more serious problem. Plan to visit an orthopaedic specialist.
What should I wear?
Don’t wear cotton T-shirts and shorts. Cotton retains moisture and doesn’t allow your body to properly regulate temperature. You’ll freeze in the winter and overheat in the summer. Go for synthetic fabrics instead (try CoolMax or Dri-Fit).
Be careful not to overdress. Extra body heat will make you feel 15-20 degrees warmer when you’re running. If it’s above 55 degrees outside, you’ll probably be fine wearing a t-shirt and shorts.
For hot weather
- Light-colored, loose-fitting clothes
- Running sunglasses help protect your eyes from the sun’s damaging rays
- Sunscreen (at least SPF 15)
- Wear a visor, not a hat
- Don’t forget to bring a water bottle
For cold and rainy weather:
- Wicking base layer. Try DryFit, Thinsulate, Thermax, CoolMax, polypropylene, or silk. This will wick the sweat away from your body, keeping you dry and warm.
- Insulating layer for very cold weather. This layer must continue wicking moisture away from the skin, keep you warm and help avoid overheating. Try Akwatek, Dryline, Polartec, polyester fleece, Microfleece, Thermafleece and Thermax.
- Wind- and waterproof outer layer. This layer should protect you against wind and moisture (rain, sleet, snow), but at the same time allow both heat and moisture to escape to prevent overheating or freezing. Try ClimaFit, Gore-Tex, Microsuplex, nylon, Supplex, and Windstopper.
- Gloves/Mittens. You can lose as much as 30% of your body heat through your extremities.
- Tights/running pants. Go for synthetic material like Thermion, Thinsulate, Thermax, Coolmax, polypropylene, and/or silk. If it’s below 10 degrees F (temperature or wind chill), you can wear a wicking layer of tights and a windproof layer such as track pants.
- A fleece or wool hat. Wear a hat with a brim on a rainy day.
- A neck gaiter or bandana on a frigid, windy day to protect your neck and face. You can also use a ski mask.
- Chapstick or vaseline to protect your lips (nose, cheeks) from windburn and chapping.
Be visible! Select outer layers that are very bright or light-colored and have reflective strips, since running in the rain often means poor visibility.
Protect your electronics from getting wet in a Ziplock bag or a waterproof carrier.
How do I get started with running?
- First, make sure you can walk 3km in 30 minutes. Download an app like Runtastic, RunKeeper or Endomondo or one of the many other tracking-apps and go for a 30-minute walk along a reasonably flat path or road you like, then look at how far you got.
- Second, make sure to talk to your doctor about your plans if you haven’t exercised in a long time or have health problems.
- Third, run on soft surfaces like grass or sand if you can. This will help protect your joints, which is especially important when you’re just getting started.
- Fourth, figure out what your goals are. Do you want to lose weight, run a marathon, or just blow off some steam and get in better shape?
Once you’ve figured out what your goals are, you can pick a program that helps you meet them. For example, there is a popular and simple program for beginners called Couch to 5K.
What should I eat before running?
Scientists recommend 150-220 calorie, low glycemic index snacks to improve your running endurance:
- Banana and a small handful of cashews
- Whole grain crackers and hummus
- Small bowl of cereal
- Half a fruit-and-nut bar
- Cheese stick and carrots
- Vegetables, including leafy greens, asparagus, cauliflower
- Reduced-fat yogurt
How and why I should warm up before a run?
Start your run by walking for 3-5 minutes. Walking is especially helpful for runners who are coming back after an injury. Then, add five to six 100-meter strides to help your body transition from walking to running mode.
Here’s how to do them:
- Jog easy for at least two minutes—preferably more.
- Gradually accelerate over the course of 60 to 100 meters, then gradually decelerate.
- After each stride, walk around and shake out your legs for 90 seconds.
- Then stride back in the opposite direction.
- Strides should not be timed, and the exact distance of each stride is not critical.
Be sure to keep your steps short and quick, keeping your feet and legs underneath your torso. Do dynamic stretches: skipping, side step/shuffle, weave step (also known as “the grapevine”), backward jogging, and butt kicks.
The best long distance running techniques?
- Keep your front leg landing right under your center of gravity.
- Landing on your mid-foot will reduce chances of joint pain after running on a hard surface.
- Do not over-stride, changing the foot landing from heel to mid-foot.
- Keep your head upright, shoulders square, chest lifted, and arms swinging closely to your body. Your head, spine and hips must be in line with the point of contact of your foot.
- Run tall and look straight ahead to the horizon. Lean your body forward slightly.
- Don’t forget to breathe through your nose. Take long, deep breaths.
Think of a reason to run and keep it in mind when running.
The negative consequences of running?
Additionally, incorrect weight distribution can put too much pressure on the spine, resulting in back pain. If you plan to do a lot of running, make sure you’re using the right technique.
Medical Coordinator to the Boston Athletic Association Chris Troyanos warns that running is not necessarily good for everyone.
Here are some examples:
- Overweight people have a higher risk of running-related injuries.
- People with asthma should check with their doctor before taking up running and keep an inhaler on hand just in case.
- Overpronators have a higher risk of running-related injury because overpronation puts a lot of stress on the feet and knees. Make sure you have the right running shoes.
- People with hyperextended knees can also run into trouble. Start with a walking program and work up to running gradually to avoid injury.
- Running makes for great rehabilitation for people with heart disease, but it’s important to stick to your target heart rate.
Finally, it’s important to listen to your body. If you start feeling knee pain when you go from 5 to 7 miles a day, that could be your threshold. If you have any type of pain or discomfort in your legs and back, stop running, use myofascial release therapy and make an appointment to see your doctor.
Why is running so hard?
- Don’t avoid warming up before running
- Don’t eat heavy meals, avoid it at least 3-4 hours before running
- Your running style can be wrong. The right techniques let you avoid excessive workload and injures. Think about your posture and leg motion, cadence, upper body/lower body coordination, breathing habits and proper bend in your knees and elbows.
- Don’t try running too hard. Your distance and speed should depend on your level of health and fitness.
- When you’re starting your run, just jog. Don’t run too fast until you’ve reached your target heart rate
- Take deep, slow breaths. You need to be working hard and feel tired when you’re running, but you should still be able to speak a few words at a time in between breaths.
- When you do feel winded, slow down to a jog until your body feels better and don’t stop until you’ve reached your goal.
How do I calculate my target heart rate?
When you run, your target heart rate should vary depending on what you want to get out of your workout:
- Training at 50-60% of this intensity will boost your recovery and get you ready to train at higher heart rates
- Training at 60-70% improves your general endurance
- Train at 70-80% to improve the efficiency of blood circulation in the heart and skeletal muscles
- To improve your speed endurance, run at 80-90% of your maximum heart rate
- 90-100% of max heart rate is when your heart and respiratory system are working at their maximal capacity
The best way to track heart rate is with fitness trackers that have built-in optical heart rate monitors:
How do I measure my running effort?
The best way to track your progress is with fitness trackers that have built-in optical heart rate monitors. Many of them also have GPS, can count steps, distance and lap time.
You can also try apps like Runkeeper, Runtastic, Strava, Google Fit, Moves. They will help you monitor your physical activity by tracking steps, distance, and more.
Make sure to use the Welltory app to check your stress and energy levels and heart rate every morning.
How to recover effectively after long distance running?
Follow these steps:
- Hydrate as soon as possible after your run with an electrolyte drink. Check your weight before and after running, then drink 150 ml of fluid for each 100g lost.
- Roll out muscles with a muscle roller or a tennis/lacrosse ball.
- Jog to cool down and stretch major muscles thoroughly.
- Take an ice bath.
- Eat a healthy meal, ideally within 30 minutes after running
- Sufficient sleep will help you recover. Track your sleep and use the Welltory app to understand how much sleep you need to recover.
- Avoid caffeine and caffeinated drinks for 2 hours after running.
What can I do to increase my running stamina and strength?
- Run as long as you can at your preferred pace the first week, then increase your pace or distance by 10% per week.
- Do not run without a good warm-up. Stretch your muscles with dynamic stretching exercises to warm up your body before a run.
- Interval training (high-intensity interval training) is used to improve your aerobic capacity and involves alternating your running pace and style. For example, run as fast as you can for 30 seconds and then slow down to 75% for another 2 minutes. The entire session may last between four and thirty minutes.
- Pool running and cycling challenge your body in similar ways to running and can greatly enhance your training efforts and increase endurance with very little risk of injury.
- Eat food with low glycemic index 2 to 3 hours before a run.
- Music will help you keep moving to run an extra mile or two. Make a playlist with songs that make you move.
- Sufficient sleep before a run will improve your endurance. Make sure to use the Welltory app every morning to understand how much sleep you need
How long should I run to increase my cardiovascular endurance?
How to prepare for a marathon?
- Give yourself plenty of time to accomplish your goals. Set aside 16 to 20 weeks to train for a marathon.
- Schedule running one long run a week and start with 10-11 miles.
- Run 3-5 times per week.
- Alternate long runs with short (3 or 4 miles) or medium (7 or 8 miles) runs.
- Do no more than 40 percent of your peak weekly mileage.
- During the last three days, concentrate on eating carbohydrate-rich foods, such as pasta, potatoes, bread, fruit and fruit juice, and sports drinks.
- Eat a 150 – 220 calorie snack with low glycemic index 2 -3 hours before you run.
- Drink water with lemon and honey and eat banana 30 minutes before you run.
- Jog lightly for 10 minutes, finishing about 15 minutes before the start of a long run. Precede and follow your jog by stretching your muscles gently.
- Keep in mind that marathon running can have a cardiotoxic effect. Make sure to consult your doctor before running a marathon and give priority to distance rather than speed.