I met up with a fellow military spouse this week to give her some guidance on running. She is a beginner runner and had some questions on how to get started, mechanics etc. so I met up with her and spent some time reviewing it all! There are many factors like core strength, hydration, form and prior injuries that can effect someone’s running, but for starters, here are some of the tips I gave her!
1. Shoes – make sure you have a pair of running shoes. This sounds silly but I see a lot of people running in shoes that really are not meant for running and this can lead to discomfort or injury. Forget style here (sorry) and go for comfort, functionality and a shoe that fits your needs. For example, if you have average arches a stability shoe would be good for you whereas if you have flat or low archers a motion control shoe may be good for you – especially if you find your foot rolling slightly inward (pronating) while you run. A good running shoe store should be able to help identify a good shoe for you.
2. Stride - is literally the step you make while running. Naturally the faster you go, the more your knees will lift. Your feet should land directly underneath your body and your knees should be slightly flexed as your feet hit the ground, so they can deal with the impact. Ideally you want to strike the pavement with the part of your foot between your heel and midfoot. Your feet should not hit the pavement loudly, good running should be springy and quiet. Proper form while running is important to decrease injury risk and also make you an efficient/faster runner.
3. Foam rolling is really helpful to do – always, and especially for new runners. New runners may feel sore in new areas and foam rolling can help get blood flowing to those areas and break up “knots.” Work the foam roller from down by your calves, all the way up your legs, glutes and even your back. Sometimes new runners will find their back or areas behind their armpits are sore (teres minor/major, deltoid, infraspinatus and supraspinatus).
4. Breathing – for beginner runners (and for myself when I started) I found it helpful to inhale for four steps and exhale for the next four steps. At first it seems kind of robotic but it helps to, make sure you are taking deep breaths which can us not to get those runner cramps, helps the diaphragm from spasming, and also helps us focus! As you become more accustomed to running your breathing will naturally change.
5. Just go! Don’t worry about pace or mileage, just get out there. Take some of the pressure off! I always hear, “I’m not a runner”, or “I am so bad.” You are what you want to be, so get out there and try it. Like with anything else, running will get easier the more you work at it!
A personal trainer can help you take a look at your stride and running mechanics, help you correct form and work with you on all the other factors that can help you become a stronger runner!
Sources: NASM, Runners World, Women's Running.