Are you ready to start running?

Many people turn to running when they want to lose weight. Running can be a great way to burn calories and as a bonus – going for a run can be a great way to clear your mind, get fresh air and relieve stress.

For a beginning runner, it’s important to get a few tips on the right way to get started. We know… when you feel that motivation to start something new, you just want to dive right in. In some ways, that enthusiasm is great and will translate well into your workout routine. However, when it comes to running, jumping in too vigorously could cause you to risk injury or burnout.

Here are some tips to start running safely and effectively.

The importance of good running shoes

To begin, get fitted with running shoes. You may not need to see a specialist for this. Investing in a good pair of shoes designed for running is good enough. If you’re at a loss on how to choose a good running shoe, then visit a store like Road Runner, or other specialty running store. Most of the staff there are used to questions about running and they would be happy to direct you.

Focus on your running form

Stand up, keep your back straight and roll your shoulders back and down. Avoid excessive leaning forward from the waist – especially when you are feeling tired. If you feel yourself slouching over, press your chest out. Keep your eyes level, looking ahead of you, not at your toes. Relax and swing your arms gently front to back, making sure you focus on relaxing and establishing a pace.

Focus on your breath when running

Breathe in through your nose and out your mouth. That may seems a bit awkward to begin, however, it will keep you from holding your breath. Believe it or not, many people who don’t practice this type of breathing end up holding their breath during the high energy portion of their workout. Many people end up giving up precisely because they expend more energy than necessary doing the wrong breathing technique.

Beginning runners should start with interval training

Start with this walk/run interval training routine twice a week. You can do choose to run outside or on a treadmill. If you are outside, choose a softer surface like dirt or a track rather than concrete or pavement. Don’t worry about how fast you go, the initial plan is to build up endurance – then you can focus on speed. Start by warming up by walking for 3-5 minutes with a couple of dynamic stretches of any tight areas. After your interval set, focus on cooling down by stretching each of the major muscle groups in your legs (quads, hips, hamstrings, glutes and calves.

Week 1-2: 1 minute run, 2 minutes walk x 7 rounds = 21 min (plus warm up and cool down)

Week 3-4: 1 minute run, 1 minute walk x 10 rounds = 20 min

Week 5-6: 2 minute run, 1 minute walk x 7 rounds = 21 min

Keep lengthening the time you run and shortening the time you walk until you can run for 15 minutes straight.

Let your music motivate you to keep running

Once you have good running shoes, establish proper running form and breathing, you’ll be ready to really start pushing yourself. Load some tunes onto your iPod or any device you can run with safely. Creating a list of faster and slower paced songs will help you vary your run.

Motivate yourself to go farther

Another great tip is to set a landmark to run to before you slow down to walking again. The distance from one tree to the next, one stop sign to the next and so on are great ways to establish personal goals in your run. If you’re running indoors on a treadmill, use your watch or interval timer to establish interval times.

Toward the end of your run, try challenging yourself to pick up the pace for a few minutes. Take longer strides and really go all out toward the end of your run. Once you approach the end of your run and you’ve pushed yourself faster, slow yourself down to a moderate paced walk and begin to relax your body. Again, roll your shoulders away from your ears to loosen up and finish by taking time to stretch out your all muscle groups in your legs.