Today I just wanted to share a few tips for those who want to build a more active lifestyle. Although I’m not a personal trainer, I hope my experience in running several races, two of which were full marathons, will inspire you to build a foundation for a healthier lifestyle. I thought of this title for my article because we all start from somewhere. Running may not be for everyone and there are plenty of other activities that you can also do to stay active, but I just wanted to focus on how you can progress from ground zero to the runner you aspire to be!
1. MOTIVATE: This step isn’t very physical so relax; it’s an easy one, for now. First of all, turn off Netflix (you can catch up with your shows later) and brainstorm why it is you want to be a better runner. Is it to improve your health? Are you trying to have a leaner body? Maybe you just want to let go of some stress at the end of your day. Whatever that reason is, let that motivate you to become better. If you have your reason down, it will be much harder for you to want to give up later on.
2. SHOES: I can’t stress this enough but finding the right shoes is SO important. When I first started running I would get shin splints because my body hadn’t adapted to running yet and I was wearing the wrong kind of shoes while running on hard asphalt. Thankfully, I don’t have shin splints anymore and I run outside all the time now. My body not only adapted, but I learned my lesson and picked the right shoes. I personally alternate between the Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 and the Zoom Pegasus 32. It’s good idea to alternate shoes if you want them to last longer. But I did my research and I talked to the guys from Nike and they gave me great advice for what shoes would be best for me. Your activity, foot type, prior injuries will all help determine what shoes you need. Do your research and ask for advice before making the purchase!
3. OUTFIT: Living in Florida, I don’t have to worry about layers when running outside. In fact, I’m thinking just the opposite: less is more. If I’m running indoors on a treadmill, I like wearing leggings and a crop top. If I’m running outside I’ll probably do running shorts with a light top. When you’re running your body is constantly in motion so definitely pick an outfit that is comfortable and that you don’t have to keep adjusting. If you live in the colder weather, I would suggest protecting your ears with a headband. I ran in Chicago in November and I ran a marathon in San Francisco. Of my two experiences in running in really cold weather I noticed that the air pressure is much different than in Florida and I wasn’t used to it. Know your environment and dress accordingly.
4. NUTRITION: This step is actually not one step, it encompasses an umbrella for your training period. Nutrition is so important for your body to work more efficiently. First and foremost comes timing your meals before you run. Don’t run right after you eat as you will feel very nauseous, but don’t wait too long without eating because you will be lightheaded. I suggest running 2-3 hours after eating. Also, do your body a favor and put a little more thought into your meals. Yes, it’s about moderation and there’s no such thing as perfection but be more attentive. If you’re training for a race, carbs are actually your friend! There, I said it. It’s recommended that 70% of your calories comes from carbs (healthy kind of course). There are other formulas to figuring out these details but don’t stress too much about it.
5. PICKING A MARATHON: This is the fun part! I love picking which races I want to do. My sister and I started with the Color Run and we were hooked ever since. We often use races as an excuse to travel. What better way to explore a city or town than your own two feet?? A logical way to start off is by first picking a 5k (3.1 miles). There are PLENTY of 5ks out there and many of which are really fun! These “fun races” usually revolve around a theme like the Color Run, or Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. A lot of races support a cause as well which goes back to step number one of this article in why you may want to run. After a 5k, you can sign up for a 10k (6.2 miles), then a 10 mile race, then a half marathon (13.1 miles), then a full marathon (26.2 miles). You don’t have to go in that exact order (I didn’t), but make sure to give yourself enough time to progress and get better. I wouldn’t suggest signing up for a full marathon until you can easily do 3 miles running nonstop. If you are eager to sign up anyway, make sure the race is months ahead so that you give yourself enough time to train. A lot of injuries happen because the body can’t adapt to the long mileage fast enough so give yourself enough time to get more comfortable with running.
6. TRAINING: A normal marathon training period is usually 4 months. This may vary if you are a more seasoned runner or just starting out. This website is great for helping you come up with a training plan; or you can do what I do and use the Nike Running app on your phone to find a training plan. Training plans vary whether you are going for speed or focusing on distance. There are several beginner, intermediate, and advanced plans out there. Do a little research and pick one that goes well with your schedule and running experience. You will notice that most plans consist of the “tapering” weeks towards the very end. This is to allow your body to save as much energy as possible for the race since you already been through the peak of training.
7. CROSS TRAINING & RECOVERY: This is another fun step! Cross training just means conditioning your body in other forms rather than running. If you are training for a race, take it a little easier with the cross training as you don’t want to over exert your body. Cross training workouts can be swimming, yoga, biking at moderate level, etc. I always enjoy switching up my workouts a bit because it prevents plateauing. Also included in this step is recovery, because we all need it. Your body needs time to rest and recover after all that training so kick your feet up and watch that last episode of Netflix (if that’s what floats your boat).
Well, there you have it! Those are some quick tips to kick off your running lifestyle. Disclaimer: You may get addicted and sign up for many other races in the future. Not a bad thing to enjoy doing though! Comment below on what are your favorite ways to stay active and any other tips you can think of!