Ultimate Beginners Guide to Running: Techniques, Weekly Plan & Everything Else
Domlur, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
Running is the best exercise for all around fitness. Not only does it keep our bodies fit and active, it also contributes to mental well-being by relieving stress. More people today feel the need to be fit than ever before. The dependence on fast foods and sedentary work profiles has, over the last decade and a half, created a society which is physically unfit. As a result, diseases collectively known as lifestyle diseases have become commonplace.
Benefits of Running:
1. Running makes one healthy. It is one of the best ways to strengthen the body, lose weight and exercise your heart.
2. Once you fully commit to running, you realise that a new way of life is beginning. You start paying attention to the food that you are eating and consciously start eating better as clean eating gives you more energy than junk food, which makes you sluggish and lethargic.
3. You can find time for yourself, which is very important for a healthy mind. It can be difficult to find alone time in our daily busy lives. Running gives us the space where we can spend some time with ourselves, away from the bustle of life.
4. Stress levels are lowered by running as endorphins or the feel-good hormones are released during any exercise.
5. Running gives us time when our brains are not engaged in any other activity and are totally clear. This rest period is necessary for the brain to function better. It is a good time to think and solutions to many problems may come up when the brain is relaxed and not active in multiple areas at the same time.
6. Once you are used to running, you can enter races. There is a lot of camaraderie among runners in these races and you can also find you running buddy.
As a beginner, running may be difficult. There are some rules that must be followed if you intend to become a lifelong or long-term runner.
1. It is advisable to get a clearance from a doctor before beginning any running schedule. You can still run, even if you have health problems such as a heart or lung problem, diabetes or blood pressure. But in such cases a doctor can recommend how far or how fast your progress should be.
2. If you have been mostly sedentary or only used to a low activity level or exercise, then you need to begin slowly. Going too fast or too far right at the beginning can cause injuries to a body not adapted to running.
3. It is very important that you enjoy yourself while running. You will only continue if you are enjoying a task. So make sure you do everything to make it enjoyable. Choose a scenic route that you would love to run on and have your favourite peppy music playing through your headphones.
4. To make yourself accountable, get yourself a running partner. It makes the time go faster and you are less likely to bunk if there is someone else waiting.
Steps to becoming a runner: Each step has a timeframe, but it is not necessary to strictly adhere to it. Only when you are comfortable in each step should you proceed to the next.
1. Start walking regularly. Three times during the first week and four times during the second week. The first week you can walk about 20 to 25 minutes. Increase this to thirty minutes in the second week. After that you can increase the time in the following week or if you want you can continue the thirty-minute walk for the next week, too. The third week can be thirty to thirty-five minutes and the fourth at forty minutes four times a week. Only when you are ready and comfortable then go on to the next stage.
2. In the next stage, you will walk interspersed with a slow jog. Do this stage very slowly and gradually. Continue with the four-day a week routine for this stage. Start by walking for ten minutes. This will serve as a warm-up before you begin the jogging. After warming up do a walk/jog routine for thirty to sixty seconds and then walking for two minutes. Do this for twenty minutes and then walk for ten minutes to cool down. Again, continue with this step as long as required, ideally for two weeks or longer if needed.
3. When you become comfortable with running intervals of sixty seconds several times every time you do your routine, you can try running for longer intervals. Continue exercising four times a week. Increase running to one-and-a-half-minutes and then walk for the same time. Do this for fifteen minutes or less if you tire. When you can do it for fifteen minutes without getting tired, increase the running time to two minutes and walk for a minute in between. Then run for two-and-a-half minutes and walk for thirty seconds. If any step feels too arduous, go back a step for a few days before proceeding to the next again.
4. Now that you are mostly running with short walking intervals, it should get easier for you. Not at once but eventually it will. A golden rule is the commit-to-nine rule. If you can commit to doing nine workouts of the third step, things get easier and more enjoyable.
5. Now increase the running time slowly a little at a time. Keep this up until you can run thirty to forty minutes every time four days a week. The increase in time should not be for more than five minutes a week. Once you can run for thirty to forty minutes, you can sign up for the 5K run.
Now that you are officially a runner, the next step is to build endurance so that you can run faster and longer. This can only be done with consistent adherence to a routine to build endurance over a period. It is definitely not something that can be achieved quickly. Endurance building exercises are done even by seasoned runners of marathons so that then can lower their times even more.
1. To build endurance for running, you need to combine cardio (which is the running) exercises with strength. You can do some bench presses and pull ups before your run and after. Or if you are not running, then jump rope for a minute, followed by squats, bench press and then sit ups.
2. During the running sessions when you were reducing the intervals of walking and increasing the running, you were building endurance. To increase the endurance even further, do the same exercise sets without any breaks between them and only take a break when you are physically not able to continue. A set of exercises consisting of ten pull-ups, ten squats, ten push-ups and ten sit-ups is a good example. If you can do three sets of these exercises back to back without a break this, would build endurance over time. However, do not try doing the whole thing right from the first day. Gradually build up to it.
3. Fast paced, high intensity lifting is a great way of improving strength and building endurance. It is one of the best ways of improving the metabolism and building muscles.
4. Compound movements that use more than one joint such as squats, step-ups, push-ups and pull-ups are better at improving endurance than exercises like bicep curls and leg lifts which exercise only one joint.
Diet for Runners
A healthy diet tailored to their requirements is a must for runners. It is important both for maintaining good health and to deliver the best performance in a run. A balanced diet should include all the essential nutrients - carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in the correct percentages.
1. Carbohydrates should comprise 60 – 65% of the total calories. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for everyone. Carbs are better than fats or proteins for both quick and long lasting energy. Whole grains, brown rice, potatoes, starchy vegetables and fruits are good carbohydrate sources.
2. Proteins are needed to repair the wear and tear that the athlete’s body undergoes. It is, therefore, very important that the diet includes good sources of protein such as lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy products and beans.
3. Fats, vitamins and minerals are also essential for the proper functioning of the body and the diet should contain all these in the proper amount. Excess fats should be avoided as that can lead to packing on the pounds. Calcium and iron are important and should be incorporated in the diet through milk products and green leafy vegetables. Sodium and electrolytes lost through sweating should be replaced.
Running is one activity that does not require any gear except a pair of running shoes suited to your style of running. Any well-fitted clothes that do not hinder movements and allow the skin to breathe is good enough for running.
A good pair of running shoe is essential. Lack of proper shoes can cause injuries. When buying running shoes, ask for recommendations for the shoe that is for you. A good shoe should have a balanced contact, which means the heels, balls of the feet and toes are balanced while running. This gives stability to the body. It should be flexible and not stiff in the middle. The width should be aligned to your foot. The toes should not be compressed. It should not be too soft or too thick
Cotton is not a good fabric for runners. It chafes the body, absorbs and holds sweat and cotton socks cause blisters in the feet. It is always better to get a fabric that absorbs the moisture away from the body and keeps the body cool. The best athletic attire is made from technical fabrics which are comfortable, not bulky, lightweight and stretchy.
So now that you have all the information, just do it! Run for a better life.