Image by: Dave Gingrich
By Robert Spencer
Staying active is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. Walking, jogging, and/or running is a great option if you don’t have a gym membership. Unless you live in an extremely dangerous neighborhood, you can run around the block for a few laps every morning and at night and all you need is a good pair of running shoes and the right clothes. It’s a cheap and easy option that doesn’t require too much of you.
However, because it is becoming more popular, more people are jumping into the hobby/sport without the proper know-how. Sure it can be easy but you still have to know a few basics in order to avoid injury. Let’s go over some simple rules in order to keep you safe.
#1) The Health Benefits of Running
A study performed by the Researchers at the University of South Carolina and the Ochsner Health System in New Orleans found that running 20 miles a week (more specifically four miles a day, five days a week) is the perfect distance to gain the most out of running as an exercise routine.
They found that runners who ran for longer distances a week or ran more than five days a week didn’t live as long as those who kept to that schedule (four miles a day, five days a week). Their study was done on over 53,000 runners who were diabetes, cancer, and heart disease free.
Of course, only your doctor can tell you what’s best for you, so check in with him before you start a running regimen. He can tell you exactly what’s good for you when it comes to how long to run when you start.
#2) Going Long
As of 2012, 0.5% of the American population had run at least one marathon. It’s a popular sport and is only getting more widespread attention. With 570 marathons held annually, it’s not hard to find one near your hometown.
Just because you can’t, doesn’t mean you should. When I say this, I mean that just because you think that you can run a marathon tomorrow, it doesn’t mean that you should run a marathon tomorrow. You should increase your monthly running goals by 3-5 percent (especially if you are accident prone). That’s one of the reasons why you have to (HAVE TO) train for a marathon instead of diving in headfirst.
The average marathon trainee runs about an average of 40 miles per week. Don’t get discouraged if that looks like a huge number for you right now. Every runner had to work up to that number. If you run six days a week, that averages out to about six and a half miles per day. That seems a little more manageable, right?
Keep a running journal. Even if it’s just a couple notes that you jot down, recording your running activities is important. At the very least, record your weekly milage and how you feel after every run. If you run for a half an hour one day and run for an hour the next day, note the differences in your mood and physical disposition. Are you more tired? Did you run out of breath halfway through? Did you drink any water?
#3) Five Finger Shoes
A lot of people jumped on the Five-Finger bandwagon (“Five Fingers” is a brand of shoes which fits your feet the same way that gloves fit your hand) after reading Born to Run by Chris McDougall. However, while he has some valid point in the book, the fact remains that we’ve spent 20 years in shoes. For some of us, it’s more like 30 or 40 years.
Our arches aren’t used to running on pavement. If you decide to swap to Five Fingers (on a whim) and just start running, you’re going to be in for a dangerous and painful surprise. You will most likely cause damage to your arches and your ankles, not to mention the pain that resonates from those injuries will cause massive effects on your knees as well.
If you’re determined to wear “barefoot shoes” check out this tutorial on how to get started without hurting yourself.
#4) Possible Injuries
UK Lifestyle reported that about 70% of runners will get injured. 40% of those injuries are knee injuries. You also have to watch out for shin splints (especially if you’re new). Shin splints are a pain around your shin bones that is caused when you exercise too vigorously without warming up or when you’re not quite ready for it.
The easiest ways to prevent injuries are as follows:
Listen to your body. If you start hurting, your body is trying to tell you that something’s not right.
If you are excessively overweight, ask your doctor before you start a running regimen. Heart attacks and knee pain/injury are the biggest worries for men who are overweight who begin running because running is such a high impact sport.
Start slow. Walk before you jog, and jog before you run. I’m not just talking about a running session, I’m talking about starting your running regimen.