APEX SPORTS GUIDE TO RUNNING FOR BEGINNERS
Congratulations on choosing to start running, one of the most progressive (in more ways than one!) individual sports you can do.
Almost anyone can do it, its (mostly) a matter of discipline and motivation which we all have, and once you overcome this and get fitter, you will notice results almost immediately, seeing yourself continually progress by the ability to run that bit further and/or that bit faster. The positives the sport can offer far outweigh any negatives.
This document is to try and help with some of the basic principals of running. You may be a complete novice with some vague ideas of running, so this should be a useful document and used alongside other, more in-depth, reading matter you may wish to consult about running.
You may be someone who used to run and is returning to the sport after an absence; hopefully this will re-ignite some of the knowledge you had from before. Who knows, it may even show you where you possibly may have gone wrong in the past!
To re-iterate, this will list some of the basics and anything you feel is useful to you should be found in specific Running books which will explain these in more detail.
I hope this goes a long way to helping you in a long and prosperous running career.
Some of the benefits a running life can offer:
- Running can help stimulate the brain; giving you the feeling of doing yourself good; it can (almost always) build self-motivation; help with confidence and a greater self-respect.
- It can help prevent muscle & bone loss which can occur naturally with old age; may help to fight disease; strengthen heart and the whole cardiovascular system.
- Perhaps more importantly, it can help with weight loss, which means you can be (within reason!) more flexible with what you eat!
It may take great motivation & discipline to survive the first three months before running becomes a habit and your fitness levels increase and body adapts. As a complete novice this foundation period need never to be repeated again as the body adapts through this learning phase, be it a break from running of months or years and regardless how unfit you become,this base period is a one-off. Think of it as riding a bike! There is much to learn about yourself during this beginning period.
Some General Pointers
- CHOOSE APPROPRIATE FOOTWEAR! You should have this point sorted already after a visit to Apex Sports! Shoes with inappropriate cushioning (particularly fore-foot cushioning) often lead to painful knees and shin-splints
- Set (realistic) Goals be it from running consistently round a field to a 5k race, or further. This helps with motivation
- Try to run with a group or club. See in-store or on our website for clubs near to you
- Try maintain positive self-talk methods: I'm doing well today Nearly half-way etc. Self-congratulation is beneficial
- Decide if you need medical clearance beforehand
- Choose appropriate clothing running clothing will breathe; while the body sweats and heats up, the appropriate clothing willnot form a barrier and allows the body to perform naturally without hindrance.As insignificant as it may seem, proper running socks, which wick sweat &breathe, help the feet to stay as dry as possible, avoiding potential athletes foot. Some also help with avoiding blistering
- Keep hydrated, not only before your run, but during the day as well, and also on the run if possible. A general rule of thumb is while out running, if you feel thirsty you're already dehydrated
Some Safety pointers:
Some Safety pointers:
- Carrying a phone/alarm on your person can be extremely useful should something go wrong and can also help with confidence (just knowing its there in case of emergency due to attack or injury)
- Let someone know you're heading out, giving them a rough location you'll be going and estimated time you expect to be out for
- Put on Sun-block in Summer
- Wearing headphones can limit the ability to hear approaching traffic, or other people
* In Cold Weather:
- Eat (even) more carbohydrates the cold increases the rate which muscles use up glycogen stores
- Wear thin layers of clothing to possibly remove as the body warms up
- Wind chill can reduce body temperature noticeably; try run into the wind in beginning of run if possible
- Hoods limit lateral vision, check before stepping into road
- Try to run facing oncoming traffic if running on roads
- At the same time, try to avoid running too much with traffic pollution & fumes are likely to affect breathing
* In Dark:
- Run with buddy if possible
- Wear reflective clothing
- Avoid running in the road
- Try avoid poorly lit / less populated areas
- Know your route if possible be aware of hazards: manholes, broken concrete slabs
- Take care of uneven surfaces
- Try to vary your route / time of run through the same park due to vulnerability
- Be wary of dogs if approached, slow down, stop if necessary, avoid a chase if possible
- Other people look out for cyclists, recreational users who might not hear you approaching
Some Basic Training Principals:
- Start gradually & train gently A run/walk program goes hand-in-hand with the Foundation period as discussed above,preferably until a level is reached whereby you can run a fair distance at a comfortable
- Only think about Speed training once this foundation has been laid; Train First For Distance, Only Later For Speed
- Dont set your daily training schedule in stone,allow some flexibility due to unforeseen circumstances; rather have a weekly schedule and distance to aim for; listening to your body is one of the factors(more on this later)
- Avoid Over training rest days can be just as useful as a training day. Allowing the body to recover for at least a day (if not more in beginning stages), if in a heavy training program, will avoid injury and allow better performance.
- Stiffness in the leg muscles is natural as the body and muscles become accustomed. Resting usually sorts this out and the stiffness recedes as the body and muscles adapt; these are the muscle fibres breaking down and strengthening
- Exercising every alternate day when first starting out will also help the body to cope and adjust to this new form of exercise you're putting on it.
- Train the Mind Stamina is just as much a mental attribute as a physical one; making your mind healthy will go a long way to a healthy running life
- Keep a detailed logbook; an Excel spreadsheet works well, or even a notebook making notes of how the run felt, effort rating, enjoyment rating Date the entries to reflect later to see how you've progressed
- If you have some devices to measure your distance while out running, make notes of how far you ran & your time. There are also websites to measure distance: www.walkjogrun.net
- Try train frequently, all year round
Some pointers to try Avoid Injuries:
The first point here is to have the correct footwear.Incorrect footwear with inappropriate cushioning can cause injuries, mainlyknee pain & shin splints as they don't provide the necessary cushioning for the pounding.
Intrinsic factors within the body: age, sex, disease.
- Biomechanical factors: Muscle weaknesses, inflexibility, joint instability, leg-length discrepancy
- Extrinsic factors: environment weather, traffic, surfaces;training errors, incorrect footwear
- If you feel an injury, follow the popular RICE method: Rest Ice Compression Elevation
- Resting an injury sooner rather than later could help with rapid recovery
- Ice the area as soon and often as possible for short periods of 10-15 minutes.
- To Compress, tie a bandage or similar around the area to reduce further swelling
- If possible, Raise the area above heart level for a short while, i.e. while watching TV
- Listen to your body if you're feeling particularly achy, sore and/or tired, take a rest!
Some pointers on the more common Injuries, with potential causes and some self-treatments:
- Achilles Tendonitis The initial inkling of discomfort in the Achilles area is usually with the first step out of bed, enough to limp but soon wears off. It's well-localised and tender to touch. Can be caused by worn-out or inappropriate running shoes, wearing high heels at work, sudden increase in training, tight calf muscles.
Solutions: RICE; Calf-muscle stretches done each day; cut the heel part of an old inner-sole and place it under the affected heel to raise it, raising the heel can go a long way to helping the issue. You can also buy specific heel pads. Visit your physio should the injury continue
- IliotibialBand Syndrome The band extends from the hip to the outside of the knee. The classic feature of this syndrome is a sharp pain on the outside of the knee, and usually occurs during exercise. Some main causes are a tight iliotibial band, worn-out or inappropriate running shoes, running on the same side of a cambered road, excessive downhill running, sudden increase in training, too much racing.
Solutions: RICE; a specific stretch for this injury is to be seated with legs out in front, bend and cross the affected leg over the other pushing it across (see 3rd stretch diagram below). You should feel a stretch in the band below the hip.
- Runners Knee (Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome) localised pain around the kneecap. Hurts running, walking up & down steps or squatting and sitting with knee bent for a considerable time. Some main causes can be training too hard, too fast(and too soon); worn-out or inappropriate running shoes; running on the same side of a cambered road; muscular irregularities in the quadriceps
Solutions: RICE; stretching the quads, hamstrings and calf muscles; strengthening the quad muscles.
Injury Summary: you'll notice some of the same reasons crop up for numerous injuries, as well as doing too much too soon, insufficient preparation for event, not resting or treating an injury. Avoiding these errors could help you to an injury-free running life. It is highly recommended to see a physio should the injury not relent.
Regular (sports) massage also helps to manipulate and stimulate muscles, keeping them supple and helping improve circulation, and probably reducing injuries.
The diagrams below represent some of the main stretches which may be beneficial after a run. Hold each stretch for approximately 10-15 seconds and preferably after your run when the muscles are warmer.
Consult the internet or running books for more detailed stretches.
Electrolyte supplements (such as SiS powder GO and gels, PowerBar gels, Nuun tablets) can be used during exercise to replace lost (and vital) salts and electrolytes through sweat to aid performance. May help to reduce cramp.
Recovery Drinks and bars (SiS powder REGO, Buzz Bars, High5 Protein Bars) contain Whey protein and glutamine (amongst others) to help muscles recover quicker. Nuun tablets also aid recovery by replacing salts for quicker recoveries.
Glucosamine tablets have also been known to aid runners joints.
Food as much of a cliche as it is, it still applies here: eating a healthy balanced diet,mostly of carbohydrates & protein. Carbs are the body's preferred energy source, as well as regular vitamins and minerals. Pasta and potatoes are the preferred carbs. It is generally recommended we also take our carbohydrates from foods that contain a range of other nutrients as well, such as bread,grains & cereals, fruit & vegetables and dairy products.
Proteins are important for new cell growth and repairing cell tissue. Common protein can be sourced from some animal products: meat,fish, eggs, cheeses, milk, yoghurt
Also from plant foods: peas, beans, soya, pulses, lentils,cereals, grains, nuts and seeds. Some of these proteins may be high in fat, which can be a good for you if you're exercising regularly and burning off more calories. Fats provide a storage form of energy so we can sustain exercise overlong periods. But be sure to eat fats in moderation!
Cross Training can supplement your training well. You'd need to approach it methodically by planning what sort of activities you'll do, choose activities you actually enjoy!
Cross Training includes gym work, playing tennis, squash,cycling, etc These activities will use slightly different muscles to those you use when running, thereby resting those muscles. Regular Cross Training will build up other muscles which should help with your running, but don't push these activities to exhaustion.
Cross Training also breaks up the monotony of running if you find it becoming tedious.
If you've bought your shoes from Apex Sports you may well have been shown the effective Loop Lacing system:
If not, or if you have forgotten, try this lacing system with your shoes:
There are, usually, two vacant lacing holes at the top of each shoe. Make a loop by threading the lace up to the hole above (without crossing at this stage). Thread both laces through their opposite loop and pull down and away, ensuring the loop is flush with the shoe. Tie the lace as normal and this reinforces the shoe around the foot, usually preventing the foot from sliding forward in the shoe or preventing the heel from slipping. Feel free to pop into the shop if this explanation doesn't make sense!
A final word on caring and cleaning your running shoes:
They have a complex design with varying forms of cushioning,glues and materials. Being submerged in water for prolonged period (even in cold water) does not do the shoes any favours, with the potential of shrinking the uppers and warping the plastics. By all means put the laces through a normal wash load in the machine.
One of the better cleaning methods is to dip them in a basin of lukewarm water and scrub with a soft brush; an old toothbrush works well,not stiff enough to tear the soft uppers of the shoe. Remove the inner sole and clean this as well. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water.
Allow to drip-dry for a while before leaving the shoes to dry naturally, Do NOT place them in an oven or on top of the radiator!! This too can affect the plastics. Stuff the shoes with newspaper, paper towels or rags to absorb moisture and to keep their shape. Change frequently for more rapid results.
I hope this has (and will) help you in your running life.Further reading can be obtained via a reference book such as The Lore of Running (Prof Tim Noakes), Runners World monthly magazine is ideal for beginners.
Good luck with everything and please call in or contact the shop if you have any queries relating to running and well try our best to answer.