8 important things to know before you start running

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Whether you’re running just for recreation or you have goals to break personal bests, success  (however you may define it) will require some trial and error; figuring out what does and doesn’t work for you.

This applies to everything from your training program and apparel to nutrition and recovery techniques. That said, there are also some universal running truths; rules or guidelines that, for the most part, are essential for successful running.

And unfortunately, many runners don’t learn these lessons until long after they’ve been involved in the sport. Here are 8 important things you need to know before you start running:

1. Patience

Patience is everything. New runners, no matter their fitness levels, are bound to feel some soreness. But by slowly and steadily increasing mileage, your goals will start to manifest. Don’t run too fast, and eventually, your body will tolerate longer distances and more powerful sprints.

2. Consistency

You don’t chance your cardiovascular endurance from a job once in a while. A minimum of three days a week is necessary for change to happen. You don’t have to run a marathon – this can be a quick 20 minute run every day, but don’t take long gaps unless you’re injured or sick.

3. Rest

It might be tempting to keep on going on going, but recovery days are a huge part of every runner’s life. This doesn’t mean cheat days – don’t eat a stack of pancakes on every rest day, but let your muscles repair and develop. An extra day off is never weakness – it’s listening to your body and letting it heal.

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4. Buy a foam roller

While rest can help you heal, sometimes, nothing can get to those tender muscles like a foam roller. This simple recovery tool is the best form of self massage we know, and it helps you become more flexible and mobile by getting into those knotted up muscles.

5. Nutrition

Eating well is the foundation for your energy. Food is our gas – it keeps us going and fuels us forward. If you eat a balanced and colorful diet with complex carbs, veggies (lots of dark green), and fruits, you’ll perform your best as a runner.

6. Motivate with music

Unless you simply enjoy listening to the natural sounds around you, you might be motivated to keep running if you have on your favorite playlist, or even an audiobook. That being said, running with music can sometimes be distracting, so make sure you’re still tuning into your body and being aware of form. In fact, the right beat can help you bring more attention to steps and breathing.

7. Become acquainted with a lacrosse/golf/tennis ball

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Running is hard on your feet – there’s no question about that. Since the feet are such a hard area to stretch, you can loosen the muscle tissues at the bottom by rolling a small ball from the heel, to the ball of the foot. This is called flossing. Complete it for 30 seconds twice a day, if possible.

8. Slow down your breathe

Even experts and long distance runners are breathing too much. This might sound contradictory. When you’re running, you’re getting winded, so maximize that O2 intake, right? Wrong. Trying to bring in air so fast doesn’t let you eliminate the C02 in your lungs, so you’re starving them rather than infusing them with air. Slow down your breathing and relax.

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