In primary school our class teacher would send us to the field every time we forfeited our routine prayers in the morning. She had this uncanny ability of discerning lies but then again we did have a tattle tale so if you really think about it, we stood no chance against her. We would come up with a fool proof deceit about how we had earnestly prayed but in the end she would smoke one of us out. A lip would quiver, an eye falter and twenty minutes after the intense interrogation we would be covered in sweat while fighting the urge to throw up.
Before we fully adopted to the prayer routine, our calf muscles saw hell as we sprinted around the field not once or twice but five times! I am honestly surprised we didn’t birth a Kipchoge prodigy. The last one would suffer yet another two laps, it was a matter of running for your life as you prayed for one of your classmates to get stitches. That way you were positive not to come last as you pass the unlucky pupil clutching their sides, gasping for air. It used to be one of those rare occasions where you feel pity and bliss at the same time. I hated running.
Years down the line, I found out that running was really good exercise since it takes care of the body as a whole. Even with the knowledge of its benefits, the work out proved extremely difficult. Turns out that I was missing some vital information on the opus. Like any other activity, running has a strategy.
Here are some of the guidelines for novice runners;
Get the right gear
One of the perks about running is that you really don’t need much for the activity. All you need are some well fitting running shoes, a light comfortable outfit and a fanny pack. The latter is not a necessity but it will make the experience simpler. When going for a run you might want to carry along your phone and keys. Maybe even a bottle of water. Using your hands or carrying a rucksack might prove cumbersome. Having a fanny pack that goes around your waist will be more convenient, you will even forget you had brought along some of your possessions for the run.
Running shoes play a major role in ensuring you have a successful run.
Having shoes that don’t fit or are too tight might lessen your motivation by inserting discomfort. Running shoes should be light and firm at the same time.
As for the outfit, choose clothes that are light and fitting. Also consider the weather before you decide to abandon your jacket. Ladies, a sports bra is more suitable for runs.
Running gear is all about using things that will make you as comfortable as possible while burning calories and losing breath.
Find your cues
It’s important to find your running niche. These are things that fuel your running drive. For example, some people like listening to podcasts during their runs. Other people enjoy upbeat music while others like to listen to medieval instrumentals. Some like a serene atmosphere with birds chirping and roofs crackling. It is a matter of preference, find yours.
There is also the matter of where to run. It is vital to choose a running surface that works best for you. If you are running on a pavement you will find yourself less susceptible to ankle injuries but more inclined to joint cramps since pavements do not cushion your legs upon impact. If you choose woody/ forested areas then you are likely to get entangled with unruly vines, entwined roots and strewn rocks. If you choose to run along a road, you are in danger of a road accident. Each surface has it’s pros and cons, you have to choose what is convenient and safe for you.
Make running a habit
In order to form a habit you have to actively recruit it into your system through consistency. The best way to make running a habit is by sticking to a specific routine.
Listen to the same music or podcast, follow the same route and run at the same time every day. By doing this you are creating neural pathways that are adopting this activity as a habit. This way you need less willpower to nudge you into running, it becomes a part of you.
There is a reason why renown teams have their own cheering entourage. Hearing the name of your team being spelt with a bit of spunk followed by an insanely flexible routine does something to increase your productivity. You become more zealous, you feel invincible.
As a novice runner, it is important to feel motivated. Devise a system that makes you feel good about running. You can come up with rewards that you only grant yourself after a run. Make a tradition of preparing smoothies or blended juice or pancakes after a successful run. Conjure a treasure map for your runs. Let it involve you getting a reward every time you add a mile to your usual running distance. As you run, picture that strawberry milk shake in your fridge waiting for you to gobble it down when you add another mile. It works wonders.
With technology revolutionizing with every waking moment, runners now have various apps at their disposal. You can now track your miles and time, get the best route to follow and check your heart rate as you run.
There is even an app which recruits you for a virtual zombie apocalypse.
That way when you are running, you are doing it for your life! All these apps are a motivating factor as you trail your progress and at the same time have fun. The most recommended app is the Runkeeper GPS Track.
Just like Batman had Robin, you need your own sidekick. Find someone or some people to run with. That way if you are feeling too lazy for a run you will have a jab at your side reminding you you are not alone.
Before you can run, learn to walk. Walks are vital predecessors of running. Allocating time for brisk walks will go a long way in helping you ease into running. Brisk walks do not entail speed walks or leisure walks for that matter. Let it be a determined walk that will stretch your muscles and heighten your joints endurance. Your body will also learn to adopt these regular motions. Ensure the walks last up to 30 minutes going to an hour.
It is also important to do warm ups before running. Do a little light jogging on a transfixed spot. Do some lunges or jumping jacks. Get your muscles stretched before an actual run.
So you have been doing regular 30 minute walks and have mastered the art of warm ups. By the power vested in me, I pronounce you ready.
Begin your runs as naturally as possible. Run at a conversational pace while properly breathing. Let your steps be small and your pace slow. Don’t be ashamed of walking in between your runs. With time it will be ancient history but for now your body needs to adjust to this foreign activity. Try to alternate between two minutes of running and two minutes of jogging.
When you start off at a fast pace and with high expectations you will wind up being frustrated and in immense pain, you might even get injured.
An exercise psychologist stresses on the importance of starting where you are and not where you think you ought to be. If you run at a faster pace or cover a long distance as a novice, your body will throw a coup against you. Your joints will fire weapons against your core and you will feel as if you have been tossed in a burning furnace.
Always remember to run at a pace in which you can hold an actual conversation. If you begin gasping or feeling a piercing pain at your sides, reduce your pace.
To eat or not to eat
Some people believe that if you don’t eat before a run you will run out of energy. Others believe in ingesting light foods such as fruits and power bars before a run. Some don’t eat at all.
James Hamilton, an expert in exercise, recommends eating 2 hours before running and that water should be taken during the run in miniature amounts.
All in all, other experts argue that eating before running varies heavily from one person to another. One fact still remains, do not eat just before running. This will lead to you having excruciating pain at your sides each time you breathe.
Involve other exercises
Humans tend to dislike monotony. We enjoy a variety of activities, a change in structure. It’s woven in our DNA.
Involving other forms of exercises in our work out routines will wade away boredom and at the same time alleviate tension from the joints and spine, areas which are mostly hit during running.
Give your body time to recover
In order to avoid injuries you need to let your body take a vacation. Do not take advantage of this by resting 6 days a week and running just for one day. If you choose to do this, your body will have a hard time adapting to running.
Rest is vital for the wear and tear in your muscles. If you ignore the pain your cardiovascular system will work overtime thus leading to at times fatal injuries.
And there you have it! Now you are ready to introduce your legs to gravel or the pavement or asphalt or a grassy area or even a treadmill. It’s not going to be easy and the burning sensation in your nose can be very annoying but guess what? With time you will graduate from a beginner runner to simply a runner.
Remember that pupil from my introduction? The one who would sometimes get stitches and come last? Yes yes it was me.