On my Facebook account, I always post my running workouts, mentioning anything about running in my status almost every single day, and post pictures of the race events I join. And the main reason for this really is to get my contacts curious. Power of suggestion people! =) This is one of my "styles" to get them intrigued. So much that they'd want to try it out themselves. Later on you will also realize why I want to get others addicted to this sport. It's the good kind of addiction anyway. So there, I am openly admitting it. So if you're one of them that I somehow influenced, put your hands up in the air and say, "Yeah"!!! I guess my tactics worked on you, hehe!
Below are my suggestions to get you started. I am not claiming to be an expert but these are the things I learned through my own experience, advice from seasoned runners, and through research which I did a lot of when I was just starting.
1. Consult your Doctor - I would really recommend getting medical clearance from your physician before starting. Most especially if you haven't been exercising lately, have been sedentary for quite a while, have been diagnosed with a heart problem or any other condition (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.), are currently over weight, experience chest pains when exerting yourself, or if you're above 40 years old.
2. Shop for Running Shoes - I'd like to think of this as the fun part. Even if most men are not into shopping, I know they quickly get excited when shopping for their gear. But don't just buy the first pair that catches your attention (take it from me. This was the number 1 mistake I made when I just got started. I got my first pair just coz they were cute and Pink! Duh!).
First, have your gait analyzed at a specialty running store. The salesperson will video record your run on a treadmill. He will then determine if you are overpronating (your foot rolls inward) or supinating (your foot rolls outward) whenever your foot strikes the ground. He will also specify the right size and fit for you. I would recommend going to Secondwind or Runnr. I went to both just to be sure. (for my readers outside of the Philippines, I suggest searching the net). Here they can give you expert advise on which type of shoes are best for your foot type and running style. This is a crucial step for injury prevention and to ensure a comfortable run. Feel free to ask questions and fit the different shoes they recommend to you. Try test running in them on the treadmill as well.
3. Shop for Running Clothes - Yey! More shopping!
SUPPORT: For the ladies, it's important to get a sports bra. Most especially if you are well-endowed. The breasts need to be held firmly in place to minimize bouncing around which is highly uncomfortable. Ouch! Also, if you don't wear one, you are putting yourself at a risk of causing irreversible damage to ligaments in the breast which could cause premature sagging.
For the men, well, all I know is you need something to support the male genitalia. My friends say they don't really use jockstraps. Instead they use compression tights or compression shorts. It holds them firmly to avoid injury. As my male friends would jokingly say, "one must protect the family jewels".
TOPS AND BOTTOMS: You can really run in any type of clothing - baggy shirt, leggings, sweat pants when you're just starting. But personally, I prefer using running tops and bottoms that are really made for running. Wearing the proper stuff does help a lot. The ones that are made of light and breathable fabrics and keeps you dry by absorbing sweat well like those made of Dri-Fit or Coolmax material.
4. Where to Run - When I decided to run one afternoon, I just stepped outside our condo building and ran around our area. Luckily, it was a weekend so there weren't any cars. If you live in a village, then consider yourself lucky. But since I live in a condo surrounded by busy streets, I prefer to run at night around 8pm so as to avoid being hit by a speeding vehicle. Other places where you can run here in Manila are U.P., Bonifacio High Street, MOA and ULTRA.
I will also suggest mapping out your run online. This will also help you determine the distance of your running workout and serve as a guide for future runs. I must admit, it's kindda cool to see how far you ran. Go to www.mapmyrun.com and click, start mapping. Type in your location (ex. Pasig, Philippines) and start mapping. On the right side, there is an option to set it in miles or kilometers. I prefer kilometers. Friends in the U.S. use miles.
6. Stretch and Warm Up - This is very important. You have to do some easy stretching to prepare your body to run. Do so per muscle group. I start stretching from my head, down to my shoulders, back, legs, calves, ankles and feet so I don't forget anything. Hold each position for at least 15-30 seconds. Then after, start walking for 5 minutes as part of your warm-up
Below is a sample of my 14K route that I mapped out using mapmyrun...
7. Your Run Workout - I would suggest the Couch to 5K Running program of Cool Running. You can read about it and save the program HERE. Keep your routes fairly flat and even. This is not the time to run on steep hills. Don't go too fast or too far right away. Believe me, I was once the poster girl of the saying, "too much, too soon". It sucks being injured.
8. Cool Down - Is also as important as the warm up. Instead of preparing your body for exercise, here, you are preparing your body to stop. Picture this, your blood is still pumping madly through your body, you're catching your breath, and you are sweating like a pig to keep your body cool. So, you need to come to a halt gradually. By doing this, you are reducing the likelihood of cramping, muscle spam, and muscle stiffness.
9. Keep Track - It is best to record all your workouts to track your progress. I would suggest signing up at www.dailymile.com. This is like Facebook for runners, walkers, cyclists, swimmers and triathletes. It is also conveniently linked to Facebook and Twitter so you can also share your workouts there if you like. Here, I feel you don't have to screen your contacts. I just add anyone who wants to be in my pool of friends here. Haven't encountered any rude member here. Only ones that motivate. And it helps, really! It's also beneficial to see how others workout so you can get some ideas which you can incorporate into your workout.
10. Cross-Train - On your non-running days, cross-train. Meaning, do some other form of exercise like swimming, yoga, cycling, capoeira or weight training. Cross-training helps strengthen other muscle groups which you don't use when you run and rests your running muscles. This will also avoid you from getting bored or burned out with your running. In the beginning, I wanted to run everyday. A couple of sore muscles and injuries later, I discovered that you really shouldn't.
Ok, I think I've got most of the important stuff covered. This should get you started in no time. Try reading more articles here on Runner's World or at Cool Running. Also, you might want to join us at takbo.ph This is where I met my running "barkada". Check out our forums or shoutbox and for sure you'll learn a lot and meet new friends. Don't be shy. We don't bite. Hehe!
If you have others questions, feel free to just ask me anytime.
Happy Running! ♥.•:*¨*:•.♥