Beginner's Guide to Jogging: How to Get Started and How to Avoid Injury

So you have decided that you want to start jogging. This is great, as jogging has many, many benefits for both your health and emotional well-being. I find that when I am jogging regularly, my stress levels are extremely low, I feel great and I have an amazing capacity to sort out my life in my head while jogging. I have a number of tips and pieces of advice for you before you set out. Here they are, in no particular order:

1) Before doing anything, go out and buy yourself a good pair of running shoes. Don't go to the Nike store or Walmart to buy your shoes. Go to a proper running store, such as The Running Room or Kintec. Go to a place where the workers all run, and all have extensive knowledge about running and can hook you up with the proper shoe for running. Different people require different types of running shoes. Do you have a wide foot or narrow foot? Do you need some sort of arch support? Will you be running outdoors or indoors? How much? These are all questions that you should be asked. Do yourself a favor and spend a bit more money and buy your shoes at a running store.

2) If you are planning on dieting at the same time, delay the diet until you are in a jogging routine. One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they wake up one day and decide to go on a big crash diet and start jogging outrageous distances all in the same day. You can't do that, your body won't allow it. Do me a favor and go out jogging regularly for two weeks before starting to adjust your diet. I don't care if you are eating pizza every night still; as long as you are running, you will have a natural tendency to not eat junk food after a while. I mean, you slog out a 3 mile run, you are not going to really feel like wasting all that effort on pizza. Just start exercising, and the diet can start later.

3) If you are running outside, wear reflectors. It is much too easy to get hit by a car, especially if you are running in the dark.

4) Buy a decent water bottle. I prefer one of the "camel" water bottles that rests on your back. The water bottles that you hold in a hip strap get a bit annoying for me, especially if the water bottle is full of water. It tends to bounce all over the place when I am running. You can buy one of these water bottles at the running store.

5) Gradually increase your distance. On your first few nights, try this. Run a block, and then walk a block. Run a block, and walk a block. Start small. Just go around the neighborhood. I don't care if it takes ten minutes. Just get into the routine of going out every night. The first few days will be hard "But Friends is on" "But the big game is on".. etc., but after a few days, you and your body will crave the fresh air and it will become a regular part of your day. After you feel comfortable, try running two blocks and walking one block. Then, after a couple of days of that, try running around the entire block. After that, try increasing the distance slightly that you are running. Just make sure that you don't increase the distance by more than 10% at any time. You don't want to burn out! Keep increasing as you feel comfortable.

6) Don't get discouraged by bad days. I run every day, and some days I feel great, and some days it's a struggle to finish. Really dedicated runners still feel pain when they go out and run; they still get pains in their feet and stitches in their stomach. The only difference is, they are able to overcome this pain due to their experience. it is normal. Don't get discouraged.

7) Make sure that you stretch before running, and cool down after your run. You should do a proper ten minute stretch of your body before you go out running, or else you might pull a muscle. When you are done your run, make sure that you walk around for at least ten minutes before sitting down. If you finish your jog and then directly go and plop yourself down on the couch, your body doesn't have a chance to cool down and you can do some serious damage to yourself. You can easily faint in this circumstance.

8) Try for a slightly longer run on the weekend. Let's say you are running 2 miles per night on the weekdays. Try for a 3 mile run on the weekend. You should always be attempting your longer runs on the weekends (if you work throughout the week) as it will give your body more time to recover.

9) Take at least one day off per week minimum. You really should take two days off per week from running. It is too easy to burn out and harm your body if you are running everyday. It is just like working out; you need to give your body a chance to repair itself. There is nothing worse than starting out for a long jog and feeling that your body is in the process of breaking down.

10) Eat about an hour before your run. This gives your body a chance to digest. I always advise eating an hour before your run so that you don't run out of energy halfway through your run. There is nothing worse than being 3 miles into a 6 mile run and running out of energy. Stick to high-carb foods that will burn slow and give you a lot of constant energy. Try eating pasta with chicken before your run. Avoid sugary foods that will give you a temporary boost but leave you without energy at the end of your run.

Filed under: Health + Fitness | General Knowledge

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