Get ready for running season

As the weather gets warmer and we start to think about getting more active outside, you’ll begin to see 5k races popping up around the area. Maybe you’ve been thinking about walking, jogging, or running in a 5k race this year, but you’re not a runner and don’t know where to start.

Check out the Healthy & Fit Magazine 5K race list for March and April.

Here are 10 tips from Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists for getting started with running:

1. Start With Shorter Distances

Just because you’ve signed up for a 5k, you shouldn’t try to go out and run 3 miles or more the first time you lace up your shoes. In fact, it may be a few weeks before you should even consider adding distance to your training. 

2. Try Interval Training to Build Endurance

Rather than focusing on distance the first few weeks, focus on building endurance through shorter intervals. Try running for 2 minutes then walking for 2 minutes, and as the running intervals become easier, increase them by a minute or two until you’re running more than you’re walking.

3. Take It Slow and Set Realistic Expectations

Run your first few sessions naturally and without any expectations, otherwise, you’re likely to lose your motivation. If you set the bar too high, you’ll fall short and struggle to want to try again. Give yourself space and grace.

4. Listen to Your Body

While it’s OK to feel sore at the end of a workout, pain is a sign of a mechanical issue that should be corrected before moving forward. Frustration, overexertion, pain or even injuries are just some of the consequences of pushing too hard too fast. 

5. Plan Time to Rest

Especially when you’re just getting started, having rest days built into your workout schedule is important. Your muscles are learning new movements and being stretched in new ways. Schedule your training so you run one day and rest the next. This simple training plan can help beginners achieve the greatest training effect and avoid overuse injuries.

6. Take Shorter, Easier Strides

Beginners can struggle to develop good running form, causing them to work harder and waste energy. Running with a relaxed form and short, easy strides will be more effective than trying to develop a long, powerful stride. If you’re not sure how to establish your stride, schedule a running consultation at the ORS Foot, Ankle, and Running Center in Jackson Michigan or any ORS physical therapy clinic location in mid-Michigan.

7. Alter Your Running Surfaces

Running on a variety of surfaces during your training provides a wide range of benefits. Road running is ideal for fast running, and there is very little danger of turning your ankle. Trail running is generally less impact, but the risk of injury increases due to roots, rocks, and bumps. Running on a treadmill creates the most cushion, but beware of an altered stride due to the moving belt. 

8. Strengthen Your Core

You might not think about your core muscles as being important when it comes to running, but running is a full-body workout. A strong and well-conditioned core helps you to run tall and helps to prevent overuse and compensation injuries while running.

9. Consider Crosstraining

When it comes to cardiovascular fitness, your heart loves variety. In addition, doing different types of exercise reduces the stress running places on your joints and spine. Even if running is your main focus, be sure to add in a non-running workout or two each week.

10. Add Accountability

Too often we set out to meet a new goal without accountability, and we find ourselves losing focus and failing to succeed. Accountability can take several forms when you start running. You can join a running club, run with a friend or two, use a fitness app to track your workouts, and even sign up for an upcoming race.

When you’re ready to put your training to the test, visit orsraceseries.com and sign up for one of our upcoming 5k, 8k, 10k, or 10-mile races. Runners (and walkers) of all levels are welcome to join us as we get outside and get active across mid-Michigan!

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