A guide to starting to run for pleasure

 

Running is perhaps the simplest and most natural extension of our walking ability which we learn, in most cases, at the beginning of our second year of life.  It is also practical and versatile as it can be done almost anywhere. 

Besides helping you to get fit, improve cardiovascular fitness and even lose weight, many people go jogging or running to relieve stress and to make the most of their free time. For me, in addition, it's an opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle and share intimate time with myself, leaving aside technological stimuli such as phones, social media and more.

Today I want to invite you to incorporate brisk walking, jogging, or running into your life. Show you how to get started, because as simple as it is to do, it's just as easy to get injured.  Therefore, I'm also sharing with you some strategies to make sure that doesn't happen.

 

How to get started

Technique

If you're still wondering whether it's better to start running in the streets, parks or on the treadmill in a gym, the answer is whatever is easiest for you as long as you start with the right technique.

The stride

When you step on your foot, you will make first contact on the ground with your heel, then followed by contact with the external edge of your foot and then a take-off with the big toe.

We know that different people have different types of foot strike, but the key to knowing what type of foot striking you have is by looking at the way the sole of your shoe wears.

A person with over pronation will see that his/her knees will tend inward, and they will take-off from the second toe rather than the big one.

Placement of the arms

Your arms should be bent facing forwards and not tucked in towards the centre of the body, as this forces the scapula to open damaging the technique.

The inclination of your body

The torso inclination of the body when running should always be with a forward posture, between 20-30º from the centre of the body.

Imagine that while running, you feel that you are falling face first into the ground and that you manage to put your foot down so that this does not happen.

This positioning allows the movement of the pelvis to be efficient as the pelvis is at the base of the stride.

 

Useful tips

Start slowly

Any skill or discipline is achieved with an adaptation schedule, i.e. how often you perform the exercise in a week; the volume, or how long you spend doing that exercise in a session; and the intensity (speed at which you run or the incline of the terrain).

You can start by going for a run about 3 times a week.  Start by walking for three minutes and then do short sprints of 1-2 minutes at jogging speed.  Repeat about 6 times or until you have completed 30-35 minutes.  When you feel comfortable jogging/running for 1-2 minutes, you can increase the jogging/running time to 2-3 minutes.  This adaptation usually takes one to two weeks.

Eventually, you can increase the jogging or running time and decrease the rest times, so that you will be able to run continuously for 20-30 minutes.

Don't skip warm-up

  • You can start by walking for about two minutes, becoming aware of the movements that come once you start running.

 

  • Long strides

  • Turn your ankles in and out.

  • Knee rolls clockwise and then counterclockwise.

  • Hip swings

 

Stretching before and after running to avoid injury

  • Quadriceps flexion, which takes the load off the knee. This exercise stimulates the ligaments, muscles, and tendons that we are using or have used.

  • Hamstring's or posterior leg muscles extension which easily tend to retract.

  • Hip flexion to stimulate the psoas iliacus which is where the leg muscles involved in the stride are inserted.

  • There are two exercises, one by leaning against a surface or by flexing the foot against a wall.

  • As well as a general stretch of arms for the brace.

 

  • Latissimus-dorsi, crossing the legs (as if making a parenthesis with the body).

  • Tensor of the fascia late, crossing legs with emphasis on the thigh at the side.

  • Stretching the peroneal muscle is very important as eventually many people who run start to complain of periostitis and tendonitis pain in this area.

  • Sitting, then bending one knee, while the other is extended will stretch the gluteus maximus.

 

Note: each exercise should be held static for at least 20 seconds to allow the muscle to gently release.

 

The right shoes

Get shoes that suit your foot and stride type. This is important if you want to embrace jogging as a long-term practice. 

You should know that running shoes are made with different types of support for people with inward, outward, forward, or rearward foot support and this can make a difference to comfort and injury prevention.  Once you know how your foot impacts the ground, you can get the right shoes that will give you enough support when jogging or running.

At the end of this article, you'll find the keys to finding the right shoe for you based on how your foot strikes the ground.

 

Avoid injury

As a rule, if proper technique is applied, no injury should occur.  If injury does occur, it is due to overloading or improper loading. 

A common injury is a muscle strain or tear in the quadriceps or calf. Tendonitis, especially around the knee, is also a common injury. But we have already seen the pre- and post-training stretches that should be done to prevent this from happening.

Poor axial posture can lead to these injuries, as well as lower back pain. That is, you should always remember that the body is leaning slightly forward.

X" or "O" legs can also play a role in Achilles tendon problems.

The unilateral movement of running can also lead to metatarsal stress fractures, so it is advisable to combine jogging with other activities such as cycling, swimming and/or strength training to help with adaptation.

 

A final tip

To complement a good adaptation to brisk walking, jogging, or running, remember to get enough sleep, good hydration, and nutritious meals.

 

BONUS!

STEPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO FIND THE RIGHT SHOE FOR YOU

What is your footprint like?

 

Over-pronation is when you over-pronate the inside of the sole of the foot when stepping.  This typically occurs when you have flat feet or a low arch.

Supination is when the foot rests along the outside of the foot and this typically occurs if you have a foot with a pronounced bridge.

Determine your foot type:

The best way to determine what type of foot you have is to take the measurement of your bridge by wetting your feet and resting them on a sheet of paper for 10 seconds.  When you step away, the footprint remains.

You have a normal arch if: there is a marked curve on the inside of the sole of the foot with a band that is less than the full width of the sole and connects from the heel to the toes.

You have a low arch if your footprint does not show much curve along the inside of the foot.

You have a marked arch if there is a noticeable curve along the inside of the soles of your feet and a very thin band on the outside connecting from the heel to the toes.  Even if you have a bridge that is too pronounced, the footprint will not even show a connection between the heel and toes.

Determine your stride

  • Severe over-pronation. This is when the heel touches the ground first and then the rest of the sole of the foot excessively inward.  When a person has over-pronation, the ankle does not have the ability to stabilise the body properly.  This usually occurs in people with flat feet or with a very low arch.  The best type of shoe for a person with this condition is a motion control shoe.
  • Slight over-pronation. This happens when the outer heel is the first thing to touch the ground and the rest of the sole is pushed in towards the inside of the foot. This tends to happen to people who have a medium to low arch and who have a medium to low arch.  The shoe that may suit them best is the one that provides stability (Stability).
  • If you have a neutral stride, the middle or slightly outward part of your heel first rests on the ground and the rest of the sole follows through the centre absorbing the impact. People with a neutral footprint have a medial plantar bridge.  The best choice of shoe is a shoe with neutral cushioning.
  • Supination. The person with supination supports the foot with the outside of the heel, but instead of supporting the rest of the sole inwards, the support continues along the outer edge of the sole. This action inhibits the ability of the foot to absorb the impact of the foot on the ground.  This happens to a person whose plantar bridges are very arched, and, in that case, the best choice is a shoe with neutral cushioning as well (neutral cushioning). 

Time to shop

Now that you have an idea of the type of shoe you are looking for, it's time to go shopping.  Here are a few tips. 

  • Take your old running shoes with you to show the salesperson how worn out the soles are.
  • Wear good socks or ask for a pair of running socks (good socks will make a big difference).
  • Don't buy fashionable shoes but the ones that fit you well and are comfortable for this activity.
  • If it is a specialised store for these shoes, have your feet measured, as all of us have one foot a little bit bigger than the other. Therefore, the shoe should fit the larger foot.

Enjoy your run!


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