As people pour into their local gyms and stock their homes with trendy superfoods like quinoa and kale to negate the effects of holiday binges, it’s time to think about fitness goals for 2015. If the gym hasn’t proven its worth in the past, perhaps it’s time for a change of pace.
Running is more than a killer workout. It’s an easy and effective exercise that contributes to a more positive overall attitude and healthy future. According to Runner’s World, research has shown that running can help prevent heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers and a variety of other ailments. It may also help those with mental health live longer and healthier.
Health benefits aside, running also provides countless opportunities to be social. Local running stores and websites such as meetup.com are valuable resources for finding a running partner or group in town.
Of course, it’s not always love at first run. Many first-timers quickly abandon the sport and claim running is boring, lonely or hard. To help combat those negative feelings, here are a few key steps to gently ease your body into running and turn it into a favorite healthy habit.
Buy the right shoes.
It’s tempting to buy cute sneakers that perfectly match all your trendy new athletic apparel, but function trumps fashion when it comes to running gear. Investing in the wrong footwear can result in shin splints, knee pain, tendonitis and a host of other issues. A good place to start is a specialty running store. Employees are trained to monitor customers while they run on a treadmill so they can recommend shoes that complement the way the foot strikes the ground. For more on buying the right running shoes, click here.
It’s common for new runners to boost their mileage before their bodies can handle it. This often results in injury and frustration. Start out with slow-paced 20 to 30-minute jogs three times a week, and increase the time and distance by 10 percent every two weeks, to build endurance.
Learn the proper form.
Runners should maintain a relaxed, upright posture to release tension in the neck and shoulders, and prevent muscle strain. The head should be held high, back straightened and gaze focused about 30 feet ahead to prevent neck and shoulder fatigue. Also relax the jaw and neck, as tension in this area can lead to tension in other parts of the body and result in an inefficient and exhausting run.
Sign up to race!
Setting a goal to complete a race is a fantastic way to stay motivated and dedicated to running. Local road races, or themed races, like The Color Run, provide a fun and supportive racing environment. First timers may want to download the Couch to 5K app for an easy-to-follow training plan.