Get Up and Go: How to Start Running

What’s the difference between someone who likes to run long distances and someone who repeatedly bangs their head against the door? Not a lot. Running is full of myths including: you either love it or hate it, it’s easy once you start, and always stretch. With all jokes aside, running can be one of the most rewarding physical activities, but it takes a lot of mental and physical preparation to truly understand its benefits. But don’t cry yourself to sleep yet, we got the dirty little secrets that will get you up and get you going.

THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT:

One of the best ways to get excited about running before you even start is to get your smart phone involved! Check out some of the top apps for running:

  • RunKeeper
  • IMapMyRun
  • Smart Runner
  • Runtastic
  • Adidas Coach

These are just a few but they all do about the same thing. They help monitor your pace and your distance, and they usually talk to you so that you get a verbal confirmation of your progress. Some apps even give back like Charity Miles. For every mile you run, you can earn money towards one of your favorite charities. These kinds of apps are popping up everywhere, so keep your eye out!

WHERE CAN I RUN BESIDES ON THE TREADMILL?

Apps like IMapMyRun are great because you can record your routes as well as look at routes that others in your area have shared. You can search by distance and location. Try out new routes while the sun is bright and, if you can, with a friend, at least until you are comfortable.

Places around campus are great for shorter runs as well. The graveyard, behind the train tracks can end up being about a 3 mile run. Loop road can also be fun and if you go far enough, you can find a few neighborhoods directly behind Brandeis that add to your run as well.

IMPORTANT RULES FOR RUNNING:

1. Gear

It’s all about what you wear. This doesn’t mean you need to match your scrunchie with your entire outfit (besides who wears scrunchies anymore?). What’s important is that you have the right kind of things on your body. Shoes are important; they need to support and they need to provide endurance. It may seem like a silly thing to splurge on, but you can ruin your entire stride by wearing the wrong shoes. Even if you don’t have a ton of money to spend on nice top-notch shoes, go to a running store and talk to them. Then take that advice to a cheaper store and see what you can get.

When it comes to clothes, just make sure you dress appropriately for the weather. You can run on the treadmill in a nice weather-controlled gym, or you can run outside with all the elements. Learn how your body reacts to the activity. Some runners feel more comfortable dressing in layers and pulling a light jacket off once they are warmed up.

Depending on your budget (or maybe your parent’s budget, or maybe even your Christmas wish list budget), there are many places you can stock up on clothing and shoes:

  • Any sports store that carries running clothes/shoes like Nike, City Sport, Patagonia, etc.
  • Online stores can be a great option for good deals on cute clothes including: Lululemon, Runner’s Warehouse, and Athletica.
  • Try great specialty running stores like Marathon Sports in Boston. They have experts there to personalize your needs.
  • * The Boston Marathon Bombing hit Marathon Sports hard, so they donate a portion of their profits to organizations that popped up after the tragedy.

2. Goals

The best way to start running is to create an end goal. This can be a race, a mile time, or even a physical difference in your body. Use this as your motivation and your excuse to run those days-, which there will be many- that you just don’t feel like it. Like any other type of goal, try to be realistic. If you have never run more than a mile, you probably don’t want to start off with a half marathon. Maybe try a 5K or a 15K at most and then once you reach that goal, add on. Also, try to buddy up. Running is not always great in groups, but it’s helps a whole lot if you have another who is working towards that goal with you. You can set up at least one day a week where you two run together and set up a training program. And make sure to build on your original goal! If you run that mile in 8 minutes, then try to go for more distance, or even a faster time.

If you are training for a race, check out race novice training programs online. They are tons of examples that will help you create your own around your busy Brandeisian schedule.

3. Preparation

Running puts a lot of strain on your body and if you don’t prepare, you could find yourself seriously hurt.  Along with wearing the right kind of shoes, you need to make sure you are just as equipped before, during and after.

  • Before: Make sure you are eating the right kinds of food, especially if you are training for a race. Runners benefit the most from protein that comes from leafy greens and lean meats for endurance and muscle strength, and from simple carbs like dried fruit and hearty granola right before a run. Also make sure you are drinking lots of water throughout the day. If you don’t stay hydrated, you will suffer. Try and keep some emergency Gatorade in your cupboard for those dehydrated moments. You may hate it now, but when your body is calling for electrolytes, you’ll love it.

- Warm up. This is different for everyone. Some need to stretch, others just need to jog but it depends on your body and you will have to learn what works best. To start out, stretch a bit (especially your calves) and count at least a quarter of a mile as a warm up. This prepares your body for some serious activity.

  • During: Pace yourself.  Not everyone is fast and not everyone can run forever. Your pace depends on your body and your goals. If you are training with another person, be aware that you two have different needs. If it’s been a couple weeks and you feel there is no improvement, give it some time. It takes awhile for your body to change dramatically. By the end of six weeks, you will feel and see a huge change if you keep at it.

  • After: Stretch and hydrate more. Your muscles tighten when you run and you need to relax and set them back into place.  Give yourself plenty of time to do long and focused stretches and massage your muscles a bit afterwards to loosen them up.

​4. Time

You don’t have to be serious, but you do have to realize running can take up a lot of time, especially if you are trying to run long distances. You need to make it a concentrated part of your day and stay committed.

If you do find yourself injured, take it easy. Go to the doctor, or at least the health center on campus, and have someone look at your injury. Fix your running schedule accordingly and try to cross-train if need be. When you are finally ready to start running again on your injury, check out braces and sports tape that can fix you up.

This was a lot but don’t be discourage by all these words!  If you want to start running, the most important part is your attitude. As long as you keep yourself motivated, you can do it. You will find that when your body is about to give up, it is your mind that will keep you going.