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6 Steps to Make Running Work for You

April 19, 2020


With the pace of the world having slowed a bit over the past several weeks, there is no better time than now to up YOUR pace via running. Very likely the world’s oldest sport (our ancestors had to chase down food and flee from threats, right?), running is a global phenomenon (one of Atlanta’s nicknames is now Running City USA) that can help you in more ways than you realize. While crafting your physical dimension, it can also lend strength to your mental, spiritual, emotional and social dimensions (the latter on hold for the moment). Running allows you to turn yourself loose; with running, you have pretty much complete control over everything you do. You choose how fast you want to go, where you want to go, when you want to run, etc. And running doesn’t mean sprinting all out for hours on end. Make running work for you.

With that said, here are several tips for new runners:

  1. Set Goals
    • We all have our individual fitness levels so set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) goals that work for you. Start small, via short routes and/or times, and then build up to longer runs and times. Write these goals down and keep track of your progress. Consider having a family member or close friend keep you accountable. It will keep you focused and eager to stay the course (literally and figuratively).
  2. Invest in Your Feet
    • Once you set your goals, choose a good pair of running shoes. Your feet deserve the best comfort you can provide them, especially for exercising. I have personally been a New Balance fan since high school. Many of their shoes are made right up the coast in Massachusetts and they offer a multitude of special sizes and fits for everyone. However, go with whatever brand you prefer. There are many to choose from but just remember that comfort and quality should be given priority over color and the size of the company’s logo. Pair your shoes with a good set of running clothes. The fewer layers, the better, especially as it heats up.
  3. Identify Routes
    • Use Google Maps or any other online maps application to set up some preliminary running routes and make modifications as needed. Neighborhoods, parks, schools and other public places are a good start. If you have to run in a street to get to a sidewalk, run against the flow of traffic. Google Maps has a feature for measuring distances and times via walking and has gotten better at recognizing established pedestrian corridors (i.e. popular trails and greenways). Or, even better, go out exploring and set up routes the old fashioned way… by a spirit of discovery and mental note taking. You never know what kinds of old trails or tucked away roads you will find while on foot. Just play it safe.
  4. Take Care of Your Body
    • Before you take off, make sure you’re truly ready. Have you hydrated prior to your run? What did you eat for breakfast? You and only you decide what goes in your body; treat it with respect (it’s the only one you have), especially when you begin to incorporate running and any other forms of exercise into your lifestyle. Additionally, did you complete any warmup exercises? Are you feeling healthy today? Any nagging injuries? If needed, consult a medical professional.
  5. Lose the Ear Buds
      • We all love our technology but let running be your freedom, your opportunity to disconnect for a brief moment in time. Ditch the ear buds. In addition to being a mental distraction, they are also a safety distraction. Folks become so tuned out when they are focused on music, texting, phone calls, conference calls, etc. instead of the busy stretch of pathway in front of them (and then they get mad because they think you tried to run into them). Be aware of yourself and your surroundings. By all means, keep your phone handy for emergencies but focus on the pathway, the nature and your fellow humans around you. This is your time. When the crisis subsides, if it suits you, consider running with a family member, friend and/or group.
  6. Rotate Exercises
    • Running should not be your only form of exercise. Mix it up and as time goes on, build out a weekly exercise schedule that includes other activities such as walking, intervals (also known as fartlicks for us long-time runners), stretching, yoga, Zumba, bicycling, weight lifting, meditation, soccer ball dribbling and so forth. The list goes on. Running should complement your exercise routine, not be a tiresome burden.

Again, you decide what works best for you. Running is not necessarily for everyone but should at least be considered as part of an exercise routine. It has been around since the dawn of time and has helped countless folks overcome all sorts of personal challenges, especially in recent times. These tips are by no means an exhaustive list of everything you need to know to get started but hopefully they will inspire you. Let running lend you a hand as we work to overcome this crisis. Be encouraged. We are in this together and we will survive.

View additional safety measures in Runner’s World.