With gyms closed, regulations changing every week and the importance of a strong immune system during this pandemic, people are looking forward to enjoy outdoor workouts this spring, especially running. If you’re considering this sport to stay active, here are 7 tips to avoid the most common beginner mistakes.
Benefits of running
A difficult as it may be to start depending on your fitness level, running is one of the sports that adapts the most to everyone’s condition, this way you can decide how long and at what intensity you want to go for during your running sessions. In addition, it is a sport where you don’t need to wait too long to see progression! Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of running.
Just like every other cardiovascular exercise, running improves endurance, heart health and overall wellbeing. Running helps raise the levels of good cholesterol, improves lung function, and boosts the immune system. It also helps preventing blood clots, improves the health of arteries and supports a proper functioning of the heart.
Beyond physical benefits, running comes with a great benefit on mental health. For instance, it boosts confidence and self-esteem, improves your mood, relieves stress, reduces headaches and has power to battle depression and memory loss.
Need more? The upcoming months have an extra benefit, the sun! Running outdoors is a great way to get vitamin D and support the immune system, taking advantage of that extra boost from sun exposure.
Helps to lose weight
In order to lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit, meaning that you need to burn more calories than the amount you consume. Although dieting is one of the steps of reaching that deficit, limiting the amount of calories you consume, another part of it is regular cardiovascular exercise with sports such as running. Running is in fact one of the most effective exercises when it comes to the amount of calories burned per minute.
Relieves stress and helps to sleep better
Digging deeper into the benefits of running for mental health, running is an excellent way to relieve stress and zone out of one’s thoughts. This sport is considered to be meditative, not to mention that the brains releases chemicals that makes us happy and can give us what people call “runner’s high”, referring to that state of satisfaction and euphoria that comes after a prolonged period of exercise.
Most common running mistakes to avoid for beginners
1. Wrongs shoes
Although one of the good sides of running is that it can be done any time, anywhere, and does not require equipment, it does not mean that it is as simple as putting on your everyday shoes and going out for a run. In order to avoid injuries, it is recommended to get the adequate shoes specially chosen for your running style and type of foot.
Remember that, in general, it is recommended to replace shoes after running 300-350 miles with them, as they will lose their cushioning and firmness. And extra tip is to have another pair of shoes and rotating them, so they have time to decompress after each workout.
2. Training too much, too soon
Your motivation might be telling you to challenge yourself and go for that extra mile today, but it doesn’t mean it is a healthy thing to do. Running too much, too soon, can actually slow down your progress and make you feel sorry, either from horrible pain in your joints and muscles, or from blisters on your feet because of a friction they aren’t used to.
It also goes without mentioning that although going for a marathon sounds like a great challenge, you might want to take some time to slowly progress and train properly for it before you consider debuting on the field. Don’t let your ambition take over your practice.
3. Bad upper body form
Running sounds like a very good workout for the legs, but there are more muscles involved than you might think. Working on strengthening your back and keeping proper upper body form is essential for consistency and progress in your running.
Keep your hands at waist level and your arms forming a 90-degree angle, rotation and arm movement should come from your shoulder instead of your elbow, your head should be held high, while your back remains straight and your chest pokes out.
4. Too long strides
You may want to go far and fast, but longer strides are not the solution as they are one of the most common causes of injuries in runners, and also a waste of energy. To avoid this, don’t lunge forward with your feet and make sure to be landing your steps mid-sole; keep your strides short and close to the ground, and your arms swinging low.
5. Running too fast
Running is a sport of consistency, not speed. A common mistake in beginners is to start running to fast at the beginning, meaning that they will reach exhaustion much sooner and will put their bodies at a very high intensity. It is much more recommended to start that first mile at a lower pace and then increase it a little from time to time.
If you see yourself running too fast, don’t be afraid to slower it down; the key is to maintain a pace that you can sustain throughout the course of the run, instead of burning yourself out during the fist mile and then not being able to remain consistent for the rest of the way.
Running every day does not mean you’ll be getting better and faster. The goal is clear, the motivation is high; but don’t let those keep you from taking time to rest and recover properly.
Take a day off in between running sessions, and give your body the time and fuel it needs to recover. Rest weeks are also recommended every four weeks, in which you still run, but you drop your mileage by half for one week.
7. Miss warm up
Taking some good 5-10 minutes to warm up before a running session helps to prevent injuries and improve performance. Warming up should be focused on targeting every body part (not just the legs), gradually increasing heart rate and loosening the joins so they are ready to take the high intensity workout.
As an extra tip, add also extra 5-10 minutes at the end of the workout to cool down and stretch. It will stimulate recovery, help the muscles start regeneration and let the body temperature lower down slowly.
8. Not fuelling properly
As most people run as a hobby or a casual way to stay active, it happens often that they forget to pay attention to their nutrition, failing to tailor their diets to provide the body with the fuel it needs to perform during the run and to recover after an intense session.
Something as easy as whole-grain bread with peanut butter or a banana is perfect for a pre-workout snack that will give the body the energy to function. While having a proper post-workout meal gives the body what it needs to start recovery, regenerating muscle and nourishing the body with high quality nutrients.
It is important for you to keep track of your calorie intake to make sure you are not going for a deficit that is too high, below your daily needs. In this case, using a sports watch will also help you see how many calories your body burning and use this information to adapt your diet.
Sport supplements are also an excellent alternative to keep the body properly fuelled:
IsoTonic: This refreshing isotonic drink helps you replenish fluids, restore energy and replace nutrients lost through sweating. It absorbs fast, fuels the muscles with ideal carbohydrates and replaces minerals lost during the workout. To use, simply mix it with a 500ml bottle of water and consume throughout the training. Some other recommendations for endurance sports include energy gels.
Iso Whey Zero: Regular protein intake after long and intense training sessions helps accelerate muscle growth and speeds up recovery, as it helps to rebuild muscle fibbers that are broken down during exercise. A protein shake is a fast and convenient way to consume protein as soon as you finish running.
Zero Bar: This effective hit of high-grade protein can add to your intake on the go and be a great pre or post-workout protein boost. The zero sugars in this bar mean you can focus on your lean shape, while the protein intake can help with maintaining muscle mass.