Anyone ever forced to run a mile on their school track would probably agree: some people seem born to run forever, while others tucker out after a single sprint. While it may be true that running varies in difficulty from person to person, a good training routine can settle the score. You know what they say: slow and steady wins the race. A running regimen can be a great way to improve cardio and build strength—if you do it properly, that is. “Going too far too fast can break the body down,” says Jenni Peters, owner of Varsity Sports in Baton Rouge. “Training is about the body’s ability to adapt.” Below, Peters gives advice on how beginners can learn to run like a pro.
What to wear
People have different types of feet with varying shapes and arches, so the best running shoe should be matched to an individual’s unique biomechanics. A good local running store should have staff members trained to do careful assessments and recommend types—not brands—of shoes, usually based on levels of support and shock absorption capabilities.
Your body needs to progress slowly to give it time to adapt to new pressures. Start slow with short distances, and then build speed and distance gradually. In our Varsity Sports training group, for example, we add a mile a week to each long run, which should prepare new runners for a 10K in about six weeks of a committed program like that. Apps like MapMyRun are also helpful for planning and measuring routes.
Treadmill vs. track
A treadmill is a solid option for inclement weather, or for parents who can’t leave their kids at home. But running outdoors is typically a better workout because you have to do all the work yourself. There is no rotating belt to move you along. Plus, if you plan to participate in races, you need to acclimate to natural conditions anyway.
Go ahead and enter a race so that you have a goal to achieve. I also recommend running with a group to hold yourself more accountable, plus you can meet people of all types, have an experienced person direct your workouts, and challenge yourself more than you would alone. Try to vary your routes and workouts to avoid monotony, and don’t be afraid to reward yourself! Hard work should be celebrated.