You see those people taking their long strides in the park or pounding the pavement in your neighborhood. You used to think no way. But these days you’re feeling a little inspired, more ambitious and want to give this jogging thing a try.
Here are some tips to get you going:
Set goals. Think about why you want to run, suggests Beth Jordan, certified personal trainer and spokesperson for The American Council on Exercise. Is it to lose weight or fit into a favorite pair of jeans? Or maybe it’s to have more energy to play with your kids? Making those reasons your goal can help you start running, and stick with it. Of course, before you begin any new exercise program, check with your doctor.
1. Shop for running shoes.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money, but you do want to invest in a pair made specifically for your new sport. The best spot to find the right shoe is your local running store. The staff can analyze your gait, as well as consider any knee or back issues you may have, to make sure your shoes provide the needed support and proper fit. You may also want to pick up a good, supportive running bra, suggests Jordan, to help prevent chaffing and keep the breast tendon from stretching from the force of running.
What you don’t need: Running belts for water bottles, goos and gummy running snacks or compression sleeves for your arms and legs, says Jordan. Not necessary unless you are training for a marathon.
2. Dress in layers for outdoor running.
Make sure your clothes are breathable. Cotton can cause chaffing and discomfort while you’re jogging. When it’s on the cold side, slip on a hat and pair of mittens (they’re warmer than gloves).
3. Start slow.
You know that saying go hard or go home? Doesn’t apply here. “The key to sustainability and less risk of injury is to build up your distance gradually,” says Jordan, who also runs a boot camp in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. If you’ve haven’t run in years, or at all, start and stick with walking until you can go for ten to twenty minutes consistently, suggests the Road Runners Club of America. Then begin to incorporate running. Depending on your fitness level, you could start with as little as one street block. “I’ve had clients run the same block and back for one week, then had them add 10 percent or another block,” says Jordan.
Time could also be your marker: start with two minutes, for example, and then add minutes gradually. Where you run is up to you: Outside on a track or pavement or on a treadmill is good for beginners. Trail running, on the other hand, requires a different type of running show and training, says Jordan. Beach sand is not stable, so there’s a higher risk for injury.
4. Skip days.
For new joggers and runners, two to three non-consecutive days a week is safe. The days off in between can give your muscles a chance to rest and help reduce wear and tear on your joints, back, knees, hips, ankles and shins.
5. Stay hydrated.
That’s key, regardless of the weather outside. And don’t forget to warm up before you start jogging: Walk for about 5 minutes to warm up your muscles, get oxygen and blood flowing and help mentally prepare yourself for your run, says Jordan. You could also march in place, do arm circles or hamstring curls. At the end of your run, stretch to help you cool down.
6. Jog with a buddy.
You can also consider joining a running or jogging club—for some, running with others provides extra motivation and you might feel safer in a group. Most running clubs have varying types of runs, so pick one that works best for your specific goals and fitness level, says Jordan. “Don’t run for someone else or feel pressure to do more than you are capable.”
If you’re running with a friend, suggest running in the same area—like on the same road or track—but you each go at your own pace, suggests Jordan. If you choose to run by yourself, make sure you’re in a safe area, that you have identification on you and a phone, and that you are visible to other runners or cars.