Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Starting a Running Program?

I don't know if it's last week's heat wave, daylight savings, or both, BUT, I've been getting a lot of questions about 'what type of sneakers to buy for running'.  For that reason, today's post is dedicated to starting (or improving) a running program.  There are a few key factors that should be kept in mind when thinking about becoming a runner. Here's what I have... in a nutshell!

First things first, sneakers.  It's important to understand pronation (the way in which your foot hits the ground while running).  Overpronators typically have flat feet.  Underpronators typically have high arches.  Over and under pronating can cause issues in long distance runners including, but not limited to; uneven shock absorption, ankle strain, and total body stabilization.  Getting the right pair of sneakers from a proper running store, will make all of the difference.  I go to Marathon Sports in the Boston area.  The employees watch you run, check your gait and your arches and then recommend a few pairs of sneakers that should work for you.  I had a sales associate recommend a pair of Mizunos for my high arched, narrow feet 3 years ago and I still buy the same pair as they upgrade.  They rock! 

Next, warmup and cool down.  It's important to get your body ready for a run.  I like this sequence: jog in place for 30 seconds, 15 leg kicks (kick left leg up to about hip height, then right leg, switch, repeat), a few runners lunges, walking lunges, then calf stretches.  For cool down, walk a bit and then stretch.  Make sure you stretch hamstrings, calves, quads, hip flexors, back, and abs.  So important!  Revert back to my "old injuries" post to understand WHY it is so important to stretch.

Third, distance and schedule. Running (believe it or not) can become a bit addicting.  Make sure to take break days... lift, cross train.  It's easy to just head out for a run every day, however, this is a fast track to an injury.  Break up your training with long, short, and medium runs.  Also, to start working on speed (and get an extra calorie burn) add in SPRINTS.  It doesn't have to be measured perfectly, just use light posts, street signs, whatever.  Sprint between two posts, jog the next, repeat.  This is a great tip for building speed in long distance runs/races and also torching calories.  

Lastly, and I put this last on purpose, wear the appropriate gear. Some running gear can get a little pricey, but, it's important to wear wicking material to keep your body cool (or warm) depending on the weather.  Sunblock (my mom will be so proud if she sees that I added this).  Running shorts - they rock because they have a little pocket inside for keys/license, etc.  In the winter, running tights/leggings - makes it way easier to move. Finally, IF you are going to run in the dark, put on some reflective gear. It is so easy for a driver to miss a runner wearing all black in the dark.  Oh, and one more thing, wear appropriate socks... you don't want blisters.

I obviously am a huge fan of running.  For me, it's the fastest way to get a calorie burn in the shortest time.  It's a stress reliever.  It doesn't require equipment and the scenery can be pretty awesome.  Lastly, if you are starting to love running, sign up for a race.  The race atmosphere is amazing and you'll feel so proud of yourself when you are done.  Big fan over here... plus I love the competitiveness!

That's all I have for tonight - have a great week and happy runninggggg!

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