Category: Health

Tips for New Runners: How to Start a Running Program and Remain Injury Free

As the New Year approaches, many people’s thoughts turn to New Year’s resolutions. Losing weight is often at the top of those resolution lists, and starting a running program is often the weight loss vehicle of choice. For individuals who are new to running, initial enthusiasm often turns to overtraining and injury. Here are a few tips to help new runners avoid the injury bug:

Get Professionally Fitted for Running Shoes

Although there will be temptation to grab low priced running shoes off the sales rack when one is new to the sport, resist this urge. The only cushion between a new runner’s irreplaceable knees and feet is the soles of his or her running shoes. Low priced shoes often lack adequate cushioning and support that new runners need. Specialty running stores can be very helpful in recommending proper shoes for a new runner’s unique gait and size. Buying from a specialty store will be a little more costly than buying from the local discount store, but it will save money on doctor’s bills in the long run (no pun intended).

Walk Before Running

New runners should really start as new walkers. For individuals who have never run for distance before, walking for a time should precede running. When the new trainee can fast-walk continuously for 30 minutes, he/she is ready to begin light jogging. At this point, one minute of running, alternating with one minute of walking, for 20-30 minutes total duration is reasonable. The walking breaks will allow the legs to recover from the new stress of running, and will decrease injury risk.

Run on Softer Surfaces

Softer surfaces, such as cinder tracks (such as those seen at most high schools), are far more forgiving on the feet and legs, and will help runners, both new and experienced, avoid injury. Asphalt roads are relatively soft as well. Concrete (the material used in most sidewalks) is hard and unforgiving, and should be avoided if possible.

Warm up and Stretch – In That Order

Stretching cold muscles can actually increase, rather than decrease, the risk of injury. Training sessions should always begin with an easy warm up, consisting of 5 to 10 minutes of brisk walking. Stretching is done only after the warm up. Stretching should be performed with slow, steady movement. Bouncing into a stretch should be avoided, to prevent over-stretching or tearing muscles and tendons.

There is No Shame In Resting – In Fact, It’s Mandatory

New, enthusiastic runners may feel the need to run every day, to prove they aren’t slacking off in their training. This attitude is nothing more than a fast track to overtraining and injury. Rest days are vital to staying injury-free. New walkers/runners should limit running to 3-4 days per week for the first 3 months.

Don’t be a “One Trick Pony”

If overall health and fitness is the goal, new runners should incorporate some cross-training activity into their program. Resistance training/weight training, especially for the upper body, is important in order to maintain all-around fitness. Yoga and stretching are also important components in a well rounded fitness program.

Trainer Answers Fitness Questions

Have you started training for a marathon with out the proper information or guidelines?

Or are you attempting to get fit or stay fit but continue to feel like a misfit in the gym or on the track.

If so it maybe time to consult a personal trainer.

Trainers can show the way to better fitness while avoiding injuries.

Amy Dixon is an exercise physiologist who writes a monthly column for Women’s Health magazine and stars in the magazine’s two new DVDs, “Total Workout in 10!” and “Ultimate Fat Burn!”

She offers a few answers to common fitness questions posed by readers:
Q: I’m having a problem getting rid of my “muffin pouch,” “love handles” and inner-thigh bulge. I’m an avid runner, but don’t have much time for strength training. Please help!

A: Sounds like your body has reached a plateau and it’s time to change up your fitness routine. Vary your workouts by running three days a week and up your intensity with speed work and different terrain. Add cycling and stair-climbing into your workouts and try weight lifting, too. But it’s also time to take a serious look at your diet. Chances are you’re eating more calories than you think. Start a food diary and check out the calorie and fat contents in the food and drinks you consume.

Q: Do you have any suggestions to curb late-night eating?

A: Try doing something productive that stimulates the mind, such as reading. If you can just get through several nights without hitting the fridge or the cookie jar, you’ll have more willpower the next time around.

Q: I had my first child a year ago. I’ve lost most of the weight I put on; however, I can’t seem to get rid of the fat that’s on my belly. What can I do?

A: Typically, the first place you put weight on is the last place that it’s going to come off. In order for you to shed the excess fat, you’re going to need to increase the intensity in your cardio, keep up with a weightlifting program and take a detailed look at your diet and make the necessary changes. Trust me-I’ve been there twice.