Healthy Minute: 5 Tips for Starting a Running Routine

Healthy Minute: 5 Tips for Starting a Running Routine

Want to start your own running routine but not sure what to do? Try these 5 tips from Rich Green, a physical therapist and DMOS Orthopaedic Center’s Director of Physical and Hand Therapy, and you’ll be off to the races in no time!

Start Slow

If you are feeling great, you might be tempted to run hard on that first day, especially if you’ve been a runner in the past. But it’s important to build a base first, Green advises.

“The challenge people have is they get really excited to start running hard right out of the gate, but then they get so sore that after a few weeks they quit,” he said. “If you start slow and build that base, you’re less likely to injure yourself and more likely to stick with it. It’s important to combine walking and running in the beginning, and especially important to take rest days.”

One simple routine Green recommends is starting with a 30-minute run/walk every other day. Run until you start to feel tired (likely a minute or two), walk until you feel recovered (likely three or four minutes), and repeat for 30 minutes.

Buy Good Shoes

You don’t need to buy a lot of fancy gear before you start running, but you do need a good pair of running shoes. Make sure you buy running shoes – not walking, aerobic, or cross-training shoes.

Before you buy your shoes, you may want to obtain a gait analysis from your physical therapist. This analysis can help you determine if you should buy a special shoe to help correct any issues with your gait or help you best train for a specific type of race. If you’re not able to get a gait analysis, make sure you buy your shoes from a reputable store that specializes in running shoes.

Train for Something 

Green suggests training for a short race – usually a 5k for new runners – to help you keep motivated. You can find many training programs for all race distances and any level of runner online. Two sources Green recommends are www.halhigdon.com and www.desmoinesmarathon.com.

Even if you’re not a competitive person and would never consider running a race, Green advises training for one to help you stay motivated.

“If you really want to stick with your running program, let’s find something for you to do,” he said. “On a rainy day or an afternoon when you’re just feeling tired after work, you won’t want to get out there and run. But if you’re training for something you’ll be more likely to stick with your program.

“Des Moines is such an active community and there’s always some kind of race you can get involved in. Running is the one sport where 99 percent of the people who show up know they have no chance of winning. But they continue to show up for the fun and the camaraderie and the motivation to help them stick to their goals.”

Find a Running Partner.

Another way to help you stick to your workouts is to find someone to run with. If you don’t have a friend or family member to run with, join a local running group. To learn more about running groups sponsored by the Des Moines Marathon and the YMCA of Greater Des Moines, see www.desmoinesmarathon.com.

Listen to Your Body.

When you first start a running program, you’re probably going to feel some soreness, Green advised. If you have mild pain or discomfort while you run, it’s generally safe to run through it. After your run, ice any sore areas for no more than 20 minutes on, followed by an hour off. Be sure to do some gentle stretching after you run as well.

“Stretching and icing should make your pain manageable,” Green said. “But if the pain persists or has caused you to change your gait, rest for a few days. When you take a break from running, you can continue another activity like swimming or biking that doesn’t strain your injured area. If the pain is severe or doesn’t subside after a week, consult a physical therapist.”