Rules for New Runners
About 50 per cent of newbies get injured in their first year because their bones, ligaments, and muscles aren’t used to the stress of running. When you’re just starting out, forget about speed, and boost volume more slowly than you think you can to stay healthy and consistent.
CHOOSE SHOES WISELY
Your feet absorb two to four times your body weight with each step, so the wrong footwear could lead to injury. Go to a specialty running store late in the day (when your feet are a little swollen, as they will be midrun) and have a salesperson watch you run. He or she can suggest shoes that work with your gait and body type. Buy a comfortable pair that feels snug in the heel, with a thumb’s width of space above your longest toe.
If at any point during a run you can’t carry on a conversation, take a walk break – even if that means more walking than running. Walk breaks allow you to stay out longer and build cardiovascular stamina as your bones and muscles adapt. Over time, you’ll need shorter breaks.
RUN BY TIME, NOT DISTANCE
You won’t be tempted to speed up to finish faster, which can lead to injury. Add five to 10 minutes of running per week. Back off slightly every fourth week to let your musculoskeletal system adapt.
MAKE A COMMITMENT
Accountability to others can be a stronger lure than self-motivation, sports psychology experts say. Meet a friend for a run or join a group.
EAT BETTER, NOT MORE (OR LESS)
Many people who take up running to lose weight overcompensate for the kilojoules they think they’re burning. Others cut kilojoules while adding kilometres, which saps energy and boosts the risk of injury and illness. At first, keep your intake as is, emphasising whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein.