Yesterday I asked your opinion on what the fitness topic of the day should be and I got an overwhelming response for "running" (those of you who wanted strengthening exercises don't worry, next week we'll be back to building muscle). I want to talk for a minute about how I got into running. I literally started running to impress the husband. We had just met and were spending time together, I knew he ran a lot so I suggested we get together to run in order to spend more time with him. When he agreed I went out to my local Nordstrom Rack and bought a puma tracksuit, and puma shoes that were cute. If he didn't know that I was a poser when he saw my outfit and non-running shoes, he most certainly figured it out when we were .02 miles into our run and I couldn't breath and almost passed out. So, my relationship with running started out more than "rocky". Fast forward almost three years later and I can run without dry heaving which is a small miracle. Coupled with my doctor husband's tips (he is a DPT in case any of you are new here-- which is a doctor of physical therapy) I am going to note his comments in purple italics so when you see that, he is talking! I am going to try and help you a)begin running b)improve your running c) or simply not throw up when you run further than the length of a driveway.
The Basics: GEAR
Last year I wrote about how important it is to find the correct shoe to run in. Not all feet are the same and thus, not all running shoes are created equally. If you have any hope of being a successful runner you are going to need the right shoe--just like a chef needs a quality set of knives or a competitive swimmer needs spandex. The last thing you need it to injure yourself because you don't have the right amount of support. Unfortunately, when I began running I chose shoes based on which colors I liked and which were the "cutest". I also made the mistake of not doing my research and trusting the sales associate at the local Foot Locker. My first tip is to find a specialty running shoe store. Most runners choose to run in Brooks, Asics, Mizuno or New Balance. You might find some people who prefer Nike or Adidas but honestly, these brands are more focused on trendy sneakers or what I like to call "kicks". The brand is not so important as the fit. You should be choosing shoes based on your gait. At most specialty shoe stores, employees are trained to access gait either by watching you walk barefoot or watching you run on a treadmill in the store.There are three categories and everyone falls into one of them. (*Note: You should replace your shoes every (roughly) 500 miles. The reason? Support breaks down and materials degrade and you need to maintain the correct support. To extend the "life" of your running shoe do NOT wash it in the washing machine! Try not to get them wet at all and my no means put them in the dryer! If your shoes get wet place them in the sun to dry. And also unlace your shoe and take them off properly, do not push them off your heel as this will break down the support faster!)
Pronation is the inward rolling of your ankle when you are walking or running. A "neutral" foot absorbs the impact of a landing evenly from the heel to the ball of the foot. This is what everyone ideally wants to happen, and if your foot isn't naturally like this you either supinate or overpronate, which can be fixed with corrective footwear!
|neutral foot, via|
The Basics: Starting Out
I am not kidding you when I said that I felt like puking when I started running, and that meant running to and from the mailbox. If you have never ran before you are going to have to start slow. Like really, really, r e a l l y slow. Once I realized that it took letting my body adjust and get strong I found Hal Higdon's Couch to 5K program. (A similar one that other people really like is Jeff Galloway's which you can find here). You should always, always, always stretch before you do any workout! I wrote about stretching during week four of this series, and I hope you read it because it is so important! Another key aspect to a successful run is breathing. So many times I would forget to breath and make myself dizzy! Big breaths in and out!
Assuming you are all stretched, warmed up, in the correct shoes and hydrated, you are ready to go...so now what?
Good Form Running
Last year I had the opportunity to attend a Good Form Running clinic put on my a local athletic/running store in town. They filmed us running in our running shoes, and then filmed us running with bare feet. In every case, running barefoot automatically corrected bad running form because the body's natural instinct is to protect itself from injury. When you choose the correct shoe, hopefully it will help you get one step closer to running "correctly" (yes there is a correct WAY to run!) but there are also some other things you should keep in mind to get the most out of your running wether you are running track, training for a marathon, or just running to stay in tip-top shape. Take a look at the chart below and then I will discuss them below.
1. Posture-- When you run with your neck bent down and gaze toward the ground you naturally slouch over. Not only is this bad for your back but you also start working against yourself. Think about it, gravity pulls things down so when you are bent forward gravity is pulling you down too. If I feel myself slouched forward I will pause and reach my hands over my head and pull my shoulders back and then resume running. Keep your gaze forward and chest up, you will get more oxygen to your lungs that way!
2. Landing/Heel Striking-- I am a repeat offender of the heel strike. Heel strike is when you land on your heels when you run. If you have shin splits and are running in the correct shoe, chances are you are heel striking. Not only is this bad news bears for your body (talk about OUCH!) it is also working against you much like having bad posture. Think about this, when you are running fast and start to slow down, what do you do? You start to land on the heel of your foot to slow yourself down which is the way we put on the brakes. If you are running and landing on your heel you are "braking" the whole time you are running which is making you work extra hard. If you think you may be doing this there are a few ways you can correct it. The easiest and quickest fix is to shorten your cadence, or stride. Taking smaller steps makes the feet move faster and doesn't give you as much time to land on the entire foot. You will start to land on the middle area of your foot which is the correct thing to do. Another thing you can try is to lean forward (while maintaining a tall posture!) Let gravity work for you and use that pull to propel you forward!
3 & 4 I kind of already talked about these thing in 1 and 2...
I know this seems like a lot to remember while you are running. When I started to practice GFR I would pick one area to concentrate on on every run and after a while, it starts coming naturally!
The Basics: Strength Training
You might be surprised by this, but strength training is key to being a successful runner. If you have weak muscles you are going to struggle when you run, you might hurt yourself if you over-do it and you will psych yourself out. Add lunges, calf raises and cross training like cycling or the elliptical to your workout routine!
The Basics: Let Go of Stereotypes
One thing I have had to get over are the stereotypes that you couldn't be a real runner if you had to stop and take walking breaks. I still to this day take walking breaks if I feel like I need them. Taking short 10-15 second walking breaks to catch my breath increases the distance I am able to run by 50-100%. My heart rate stays pretty elevated, even when I slow down for a short time so my body is still working hard. Letting go of stereotypes that you have to be able to run x amount of distance in x amount of time is so important because everyone is different and some people are just naturally inclined to be "better" at running. Just like some of us are naturally artistic or musically inclined. It's just the way it is, but it doesn't mean anyone and everyone cannot do it!
I hope you got something out of this terribly long post on running--- these are just my thoughts for beginners, if anyone has further questions please feel free to e-mail me! Last thoughts? Running takes time, it takes building muscle, conditioning and endurance. Do what you can and forget the rest! If you feel sick, power walk for a minute or two and then try and jog again. Increase your distance by .01 miles at a time. Stretch and cross train. You will be running before you know it!
* no nutrition or recipe this week since this post was already so long!
ASPAERIS RUNNING SHORT GIVEAWAY!
Aspaeris is an awesome company that designs shorts specifically for women. In fact, they only have on product which is designed to help prevent ACL injury in females. Females are more prone to ACL injury because they have wider hips than men, this carrying our weight lower. It's true, as we age and out hip size increases we are that much more at risk. It is important to keep muscles strong and flexible and be cautious during repetitive motion like running. This week TWO ladies will win a pair of Aspaeris shorts of their very own (size medium) one in navy and one in red! Follow the steps below to enter!
Over & Out, A