After spending the winter wrapped up like a burrito as you binge your favourite series, it’s time to get off the couch and start running again. But before you put on your running shoes, make sure you’re properly prepared so you don’t get injured.
SET A GOAL
When people start (or get back to) running, they often do it for a reason, like to lose weight, maintain their figure, or share an activity with a friend. But if you’re not running for a reason, it’s easy to become apathetic. Try setting a specific goal. For example, “In eight weeks, I want to be able to run 10 kilometres in 60 minutes.” Your goal should be achievable, realistic, and suited to your level, or else you may end up overexerting yourself and getting hurt!
CHECK YOUR TECHNIQUE
Running may seem perfectly natural, but there’s a lot you need to know if you want to avoid ending up back on the couch with a bag of ice on your leg. Keep your back straight, your eyes forward, and your arms at 90 degrees. Keep your shoulders back and your hands relaxed. Use your feet to move forward properly. Technique comes more naturally to some people than others. Why not join a running club if you think you need a coach’s advice?
WEAR THE RIGHT RUNNING SHOES
Did your roommate start rock climbing and give you their “practically brand-new” running shoes that fit “just about perfectly”? Unfortunately, you’re probably better off buying a new pair. Your shoes should be impeccably adjusted to your feet to prevent injury. The salespeople in a specialty store will be able to help you find the right shoe for your foot and the model that best suits your stride.
GO SLOWLY BUT SURELY
If you haven’t been running for several months, don’t expect to perform as well as you did at the end of last summer on your first run of the season. Even if you know you can keep up the pace for several kilometres, resist the temptation. On your first few runs, alternate between a minute of running and a minute of walking. The run-walk-run method was pioneered by Olympian Jeff Galloway. This method is great not only for new runners, but also for more experienced runners who want to avoid injury or return to running gradually. Slowly increase the time you spend running and decrease the time you spend walking.
HIT YOUR STRIDE
Running can be meditative when you let the spontaneous rhythm of your feet carry you along. Rather than trying to increase your speed at all costs, it’s a good idea to listen to your body and let it set the pace. Enjoy listening to bubble-gum pop or rhythmic hip hop while you run? Be careful not to rush your natural pace by running in time to a beat that’s too fast for you.
VARY YOUR RUNNING SURFACE
In urban settings, the street is the most accessible running surface, but if you get a chance to run in other environments, go for it. The local school’s track, a trail through the woods, a neighbourhood park—whatever’s available! Not only does a change of scenery spice up your run, but running on different surfaces uses different muscles, which has physical benefits. If you’re running on a treadmill, try to vary the slope of the mat to avoid a path that’s too linear.
DON’T SKIP THE STRETCHES
After an hour of jogging, you finally get to your door, out of breath, your face as red as a lobster. You feel like you gave it your all, and there’s a good chance that your only desire is to get inside and lay down. But not so fast. This is exactly when you need to stretch! Sometimes we underestimate how many muscles we use when we run, and if we don’t stretch while they’re warmed up, they may become less flexible.
When you’re all done, it’s time to recharge with a glass of chocolate milk or one of these recipes so you can continue your day on the right foot (French only):
Read the article here (french only)