How to Become a Runner!
If you're anything like me then you were definitely not born a runner. I dreaded running that mile in PE class as a kid and admittedly endurance sports have never been my forte. So… why bother you might wonder? There are plenty of other forms of exercise that are as effective as running, if not more so. Well, here is the short and simple answer – running is free and you can do it anywhere at anytime. So whether you are running a 5k on your off lifting days, running sprints for a quick HIIT workout, or running a marathon because it’s on your bucket list, the following are simple tips to help you become the best runner you can be.
1. Form. Form is critical. I see it everyday in the gym – crappy form. People bouncing around on the treadmill, pumping their arms, swinging their hips, and even going with the old school heel strike. No bueno. So let’s go over the basics:
- Make sure your head is over your spine and not jutted forward. Keep your eyes on the horizon to help keep you in alignment.
- Keep your shoulder blades back and down so you don’t get tension in your traps or your neck and make sure they stay directly above your hip bones – not hunched forward.
- Keep your arms from swinging across your body. They should only move front to back – not across.
- Hands should be relaxed and aim to carry them between your hip-bone and bottom rib.
- Keep your abs engaged to help avoid lower back pain by drawing your belly button in towards your spine.
- Land softly on your mid foot, then roll forward and push off the ground.
2. Learn the proper breathing strategy. Often, people get stitches in their side when they run. One of the best ways to manage this is to focus on proper breathing. Make sure to breathe deeply into your belly and not shallow chest breathing to maximize the amount of oxygen you take in. Contrary to popular belief you do not need to breathe in through your nose. You can and should breathe in through your mouth and if your nose wants to join in, then great! Exhale deeply. Follow the proper breathing rhythm. When doing lower intensity runs, aim for a 3:3 pattern (3 steps while breathing in and 3 steps while breathing out). For moderate intensity try a 2:2 and for high intensity short duration sprints try a 1:1
3. The proper support is also very important. We all have varying imbalances that create nuances in our stride and how we strike the ground when walking and running. Utilizing the best shoe for your gait can help. If you pronate (roll in), supinate (roll out), or have a neutral stride, there is a specific shoe for you. You will find the right shoe can help tremendously with runners knee, tight hips, shin splints, etc.
4. Balance your regimen. Running is ultimately a lot of repetitive motion. Be sure to mix up your routine with strength training and proper stretching. The 5k program in my app does this by alternating strength days and running days as well as making sure to stretch out properly after each workout.
Ultimately, conditioning your body for any physical activity takes time and consistency. Be patient. Stick with it. And if you are serious about learning to run, possibly consider a running program. As mentioned, the 5k program in my app is just one option of many out there.