Going for a Run
Five things to remember when getting started
If you want to start running – whether it’s to get in shape, try something new or get outside more – the fall season with its moderate temperatures is the best time of the year to do it. Here are some simple, concrete tips to crutch you through the beginnings of a life-long love of hitting the pavement.
Go far, not fast
Early on, we’re all taught that the most important thing about running is speed – but really, it’s much more than just beating a watch.
Though it can be nice to beat a personal record, the fun is in going for distance. Not only do you get to travel – even if it’s just down the street and back – distance running isn’t regimented like a workout. Think of it as a free pass to go explore outside and get healthy. Avoid making plans after runs and get lost – stop to see sights and digest stress.
Catch a rhythm and truck along – it’s also a fine way to listen new music, an audio book or even just put away the technology for some peace.
Ignore the aches and pains
Running can make your muscles tired, especially if you weren’t an avid runner and you jump into a six-run-per-week schedule.
Drink extra water, get a lot of sleep and give your legs some TLC with a massage, stretching or an ice or hot tub. Do those things before giving up your daily run. It may take a bit of hard-earned wisdom but you can learn to distinguish a debilitating injury from soreness.
If it is an injury, pull back on the intensity, improve your form and research safe ways to heal. Cross-training with swimming, cycling or a traditional gym trip can fulfill your exercise needs in the meantime.
Go outside and get on trails
Treadmills, ellipticals and other forms of gym equipment are not recommended for beginner runners.
Instead of fussing over the elements, go get dirty and stay off those hamster wheels. Although pavement has some perks, trail running is more natural.
A trail is far kinder to your legs from the squishy ground versus a rock-hard sidewalk. Not only do you have the strange sensation of flying, but also getting a whole forest, river, or ridgeline all to yourself isn’t uncommon with WNY’s ample trails to explore.
Prescribe yourself a muddy trail run at least once a week – if not for physical health then mental. Take it easy your first few times because trail running comes with a steep energy curve due to more inclines and obstacles in the trail.
There will likely be an adjustment period, but eventually you’ll be turning your nose up those playing it safe indoors and welcoming the mud, critters and branches instead.
Plan a rest day
Though this may sound contradictory, sometimes the best part of the running week is the rest day, which I choose as an unconditional Saturday.
No matter what, I don’t run on Saturday opposed to the other six days of the week because I need at least one day for my muscles and mind to catch up.
It’s like a holiday, where I shamelessly eat and sleep in.
Why? Because I deserve it. I don’t think many people respect relaxation time and their lives pay the price. You’ve sacrificed all the other fun days to work towards your goals. Take some time to celebrate and reflect on what made that last week possible.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
What’s more inspiring than seeing someone with a bright, wide smile plastered across their face while running in the worst conditions, in the rain or up a hill?
What you’re witnessing in those people is a small miracle, which is overcoming odds in any shape, form or size. You can be a part of that miracle, too – inspiring others and yourself by going for a daily adventure and only expecting to have fun.
So don’t get let down about missing a day, dealing with a cramp or having a bad run. All of us are learning, whether we know it or not.
Don’t give up because things aren’t going according to plan. Just relax and tell yourself, “I can do this.”
Aubrey McLaughlin is a features staff writer. Features desk can be reached at email@example.com.