How to Train for a Run (Without Running into Problems)
Whether you’re gearing up for your first ever 5K, or even pushing toward a half marathon or marathon this summer, running and racing is a great way to improve your fitness—and your outlook on life. For most of us, to train for a run isn’t about competing against others. It’s about setting and completing a personal goal, crossing that finish line, and doing your best—whatever your best may be. But it can also be really hard to get started running, and common training mistakes can have you sore, swollen, injured, and wishing you never started in the first place. We don’t want that! Here are some tips to help you train as comfortably and safely as possible:
- Get a good pair of running shoes, matched with your foot shape and pronation style. If you have no idea what that means or how to find one, relax! Most specialty running stores can help you make a good choice. We can help too, and on top of that, assess whether you might benefit even further from orthotics.
- Don’t try to do too much, too soon! If you’re really starting from zero, don’t try to work yourself up to race length and intensity right away—you’ll only burn yourself out, and quite possibly injure yourself. (It’s the main reason most would-be runners quit.) Start with a sustainable mix of jogging and walking, at a level that provides moderate intensity but not pain. (Try talking during your run—if you’re gasping for air, you’re going too hard.) Then, ramp up the difficultly and mileage slowly—no more than 15 percent per week.
- Always warm up and cool down. We recommend a good five minutes of walking before starting that jog. Do the same at the end to let your heart rate descend slowly and bloodstream flush toxins out of the system.
- Resting is an important part of the training cycle. Don’t run every day, as this simply adds more pressure and stress on the feet without giving them a chance to heal and get stronger. Listen to your body.
- Cross train in other fitness disciplines. Strength training not only protects muscles and joints from injury, but helps them use oxygen more efficiently. You can do additional cardio if it’s low impact—for example, riding your bicycle.