Archive for the ‘For Beginners’ Category

woman running up hill

Maintain a consistent effort as you run up hills.

If you’re like most runners, you dread hills, complain about them, trudge through them and even avoid them. But hills can be your allies, even your secret running weapons. Doing hill workouts improves your running power, strengthening the muscles that make you a faster runner. Hills can also boost your endurance. Once you know how to use them, hills can be the place where you make winning moves in races. When other runners crumble, you will triumph.

Here’s how to make hills work for you:

  • Be consistent. Many runners panic at the onset of a hill, expending extra effort driving up the hill at the beginning, losing steam by the middle and all-out struggling to maintain a jog by the top. You want to exert only slightly more effort running uphill than you do on flat surfaces. Strive to maintain that effort level until you pass the top of the hill.
  • Relax, hills don’t bite. The extra effort of running uphill can be enough to make you nervous, but take a deep breath and relax. Be confident that you can do it and your body will be more relaxed, making it easier to reach the top of the hill. Panicking will cause your muscles to tighten up and your breathing to become shallow, making your uphill run more of a battle than it needs to be.
  • Focus on form. Your running form will not only help you reach the top more smoothly but will give you something to think about besides the hill. Drive your arms forward and back as you run up the hill, eliminating any sideways motion. Take shorter than normal strides up the hill, lifting your knees enough to propel you upwards. Keep your chest up and posture straight, leaning forward slightly if you need to but not slumping over.
  • Maintain your pace through the crest of the hill. Many runners expend too much energy running hills and slow down near the top. If you’ve maintained a consistent effort level, you will be able to run through the top of the hill and then smoothly transition to your regular stride. This is a good time to pass people in races as the runners who expended too much energy on the hill fall back, struggling.
  • Congratulate yourself, you made it up the hill! And welcome the next one as a familiar ally, knowing you’ve made peace with the beast.
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Trails with a flat, unpaved surface are ideal for long runs because of the cushioning for your legs.

Long runs aren’t just for marathoners — novice runners can benefit from an extended, slow-paced run as well. A weekly long run can help you build your endurance and running efficiency, improving your fitness level while burning lots of calories. After an hour of slow running, your body will tap into fat burning mode instead of burning carbs. Long runs can therefore be an asset in your weight loss program as well as a tool to help you run faster in races of all distances by improving your stamina.

Here are a few quick tips on how to incorporate the long run into your training program:

  • Do a long run once a week, on a day after an easy workout or rest day.
  • Take a rest day or do an easy run the day after your long run so your body can recuperate.
  • Gradually add miles to your long run. Start with the longest distance you’ve run in the past two weeks and add one mile a week to your long run. Every third week, keep your long run distance the same as the week before, then continue increasing the mileage the following week.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water every few miles, or try sports drinks for distances over 10 miles. Runners’ tolerance for sports drinks varies, so test them out on your long runs before deciding to drink them during a race. Water is always a healthy fluid option that is less likely to cause stomach upset.
  • Eat something within 30 minutes of finishing your long run. Eating will help replenish depleted glycogen so your muscles can recover more quickly. Try a piece of fruit for a quick sugar surge.
  • During runs of 10 miles or longer, try sports gels, bars or drinks to give your body an energy boost. Experiment with different flavors and consistencies to determine what works best for your stomach and energy level.
  • Eat a large meal within a few hours after your long run. You will need to resupply lost nutrients in your body as well as satisfy what is probably a huge appetite after running. Just remember to keep your choices healthy, especially if your goal is weight loss. A long run is not a free pass to pig out on fried foods, junk food and candy, or you’ll cancel out some of the benefits of your run.

Summer running is full of excitement — from offering an endless array of road races to treks over new landscapes on vacation, the season of sun brings fun and adventure. Forget the trudging runs repeating loops around your block  in winter’s cold grey claws. Warm weather brings new paths to explore, races to conquer, more running companions and longer daylight hours to run. But along with all the perks of the season, summer can offer hot temperatures, humidity and heat-related dangers. Learn to savor summer’s runs without passing out from the heat with these quick tips:

Drink plenty of water.

  1. Drink up. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, drink plenty of water throughout the day and after your runs. Drink 8 ounces of water each hour throughout the day and drink 8 ounces for every mile you run. Bring water along on runs that are more than 3 miles, or plan your route to incorporate public drinking fountains. Always bring water to drink after your workouts.
  2. Run early. Early morning is the coolest time of day, before the sun heats up the ground and air. Running early also gives you a boost of energy for the day and helps you get your workout in before any of the day’s distractions take hold.
  3. Take 2 weeks to acclimate to the heat. Don’t jump in and try to do a race or speed workout on a hot day without training in the heat first. It takes our bodies about two weeks to adjust to the heat, so give yourself time. Do relaxed pace runs during these two weeks and avoid intense training or racing.
  4. Dress with less. Don’t wear too many layers or thick clothes during hot weather. Pick light, loose clothing that allows your skin to breathe. Avoid dark colors as they will absorb more heat.
  5. Start slow. If you start your workouts fast, you’ll raise your body temperature quickly and prolong the time your body is heated. Jog a warm up and build up to faster paces if you are doing speed work or tempo runs.
  6. Drench yourself. If you feel extremely heated after a run, pour cool water over your head to help cool down your body temperature.
  7. Know when to stop. If you feel chills, start to see things that aren’t there, get light-headed, feel nauseous or vomit, get a headache or muscle cramps, stop running immediately and cool down by drenching yourself in cool water and resting in a cool, shaded place. You can also place ice packs under your armpits and on your groin. Drink plenty of water.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, forget the latest diet craze or the 10-minute miracle workout – running is your key to unlock weight loss success. Running burns more calories than any other cardio activity, making it one of the best-kept secrets to lose weight fast and healthily.

Weight Loss 101

The formula for weight loss is burning more calories than you consume. One pound of fat is equal to about  3,500 calories, so if you burn an extra 500 calories a day, you will lose one pound in a week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend losing one to two pounds per week for a healthy, sustainable rate of weight loss. If you lose a lot of weight quickly, you’ll be more likely to gain it back.

You can run your way to weight loss.

Running for Beginners

Beginning runners can get started with a few quick tips for beginners. To lose weight, work up to running for 150 minutes a week total, which is equivalent to five 30-minute running sessions a week. If you are just starting out, do workouts that alternate running and walking. You may start out walking for five minutes, jogging for three minutes, walking for five, etc., until you reach 30 minutes of exercise. Add a minute of running to each segment of your workout at least every week until you reach 30 minutes of continuous running.

Intensity and Duration

If you want faster weight loss results or if you have hit a plateau, increasing the intensity or duration of your runs can help you burn more calories and fat. Try doing a speed workout or long run to boost your calorie-burning power.

Considerations

See your doctor before beginning a running program to lose weight. Before getting started, make sure you pick out the right shoes to decrease your chances of injury and help you run comfortably.

Benefits

Running can help you lose weight and stay fit for a number of reasons. Running not only helps you burn calories but also boosts your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories even while resting. Following a regular running program also increases your lean muscle mass, which makes your body more efficient at burning calories.

Besides all the weight loss and health benefits of running, it is absolutely free and you can do it almost anywhere. So what are you waiting for – grab your sneakers and hit the ground running toward weight loss success.

If you’d like to join the ranks of the millions of runners enjoying the health and weight loss benefits of running but don’t know how to begin, don’t worry- it’s really not as hard as you think. Whether you want to run to lose weight, get fit for another sport or tone up, you can reap the rewards of running with some quick tips for beginners.

Here’s how to get going:

  • Check with your doctor to make sure you have no health conditions that could impede your running.
  •  Buy a pair of comfortable running shoes that fit your foot type (see “How to Find the Best Running Shoes”).
  • Start slow. If your body is not used to running, you can ease into a running program by alternating walking and jogging. Try walking for five minutes and jogging for two minutes, for instance, for a total of 30 minutes of working out. Gradually increase your jogging time until you can run the whole 30 minutes (this may take up to a few months, depending on your fitness level).
  •  Run with a partner. Having someone to run with makes workouts more fun and also helps keep you motivated, as it’s harder to miss runs when someone holds you accountable.
  • Take a break. Give yourself at least one day of rest a week to allow your body and mind time to recover from the workout routine. You can do a cross training activity (such as “Pole Dancing for Runners”) for a light workout, or give yourself free reign to do nothing.
  • Record your progress. Tracking how far and often you run can help you see how much progress you are making in your workouts. You can also record your times if it helps you stay motivated.
  • Pat yourself on the back. When you reach a goal or accomplish a running feat, give yourself credit. Reward yourself with new running clothes, some new music or a healthy treat.

Once you get into the swing of running and get bit by the running bug, you’ll never look back. Welcome to the world of running! May many happy and healthy runs await you.

Related post: Track Yessi’s progress as a beginning runner in Training Tales.