Running is a quintessential part of a basic exercise routine, owing to its benefits as a full-body aerobic exercise. It’s one of the most popular forms of physical activity due to being low-cost and time-flexible. Starting a new habit might feel intimidating but running is one of the easiest and most fool-proof ways to get yourself that much-needed exercise to improve your physical health and feel mentally good about building a habit and being consistent.
To new or aspiring runners, running can seem daunting. Seeing athletes run long distances and sweating profusely in sports films such as Chariots of Fire can make the sport seem daunting. Running is an exercise, that like all good habits, is mastered through consistency and most importantly, the courage to commence. Here are some tips that novice runners will benefit from keeping in mind:
- Slow, steady and safe wins the race –map out routes with minimal traffic. If not possible, take extra precautions and tread with caution. Begin each run at a slow, controlled pace and run for short intervals. This is not a hard and fast rule but subsequent acceleration is possible and pushing yourself right from the start might have detrimental effects.Taking short strides reduces the chances of tiring yourself out quickly and allows your body to acclimatise. Take particular care on slopes to avoid nasty injuries such as twisted ankles and remember, taking walk breaks is okay. There is no shame in doing that and you are definitely not cheating. The run-walk method is even endorsed by decorated Olympian, Jeff Galloway in his 2013 book, “The Run Walk Run Method”.
- The right gear and anti-chafing products are essential – running is attractive mainly due to its reputation as one of the most inexpensive and effective sports. However, investing in well-suited, quality gear will save you many bucks and frustration in the future. Select shoes that won’t cause you unnecessary soreness, blisters or shoe bites and that the clothes you wear are not made of super-absorbent fibres. Breathable, snugly fitting clothes work best as they minimise a phenomenon known as ‘runner’s chafe’ wherein skin-on-skin, fabric-on-skin or hair-on-skin friction in moist environments causes abrasions. A simple solution to avoiding painful bumps and rashes is a barrier gel or a good quality anti-chafing product. Vaseline is commonly used but is greasy, often staining clothes and isn’t long-lasting.
- The right surface makes all the difference – the kind of running surface you select depends on the particular workout you want to engage in and your level of comfort. Be well aware of the impacts running on various surfaces can have on your body. For example, running on concrete is good for running fast but it puts a lot of pressure on joints because there is less cushioning and the risk of injury is much higher than on soil or sand.
- Listen to your body – it’s okay to feel sore all over. Your body needs recovery time; taking rest days is completely okay. Don’t let aches and pains discourage you, it is just the beginning of a beautiful journey. There is no harm in slowing down if you feel your body struggling to keep up and how far or fast you go does not matter. Your main aims should be consistency, focus and self-care.
- Cooling down is the way to go – your body requires care post-exertion. Create and stick with a consistent routine that stretches all your muscles and helps relax and de-stress your body.
- Cross-training– incorporating a wide range of physical exercises into your routine will reduce your risk of injury, improve your form as well as strengthen the muscles used extensively while running. A strong core will stop you from drooping forward as you start to tire.
- Make running a social activity – having enjoyable company is a mood booster and encourages a competitive spirit so you can perform better. One important thing to remember, however, is that comparing your pace and form to anyone else’s is not going to help. You have just begun, treat it as an opportunity to feel proud for being brave enough to undertake a challenge.
- Create a tangible goal – choose the date of a real-life race as your target date. That way, you will have a clear objective and something to look forward to and feel motivated by every day.
Lastly, kindness towards yourself goes a long way when building a habit that you initially struggle with. Don’t pin ridiculously high hopes onto yourself only to be disappointed and lose motivation when they are not met. Running, like anything new, feels hard to do at first. All runners have experienced that burning sensation and intense fatigue. Make running your new normal, become comfortable in uncomfortable situations and keep yourself nourished. Chef Auguste Gusteau (Ratatouille, 2007 reference) said, “anyone can cook…”; we say that anyone can run!
Ease into your running journey with a good anti-chafing skin essential - SkinEasi’s activ silicone second-skin technology-based gel, made exclusively for runners & athletes. Go for long runs without any discomfort and remind yourself to congratulate yourself for the leaps of progress you have taken. Remember, choosing discipline and quality is always rewarding in the long run!