Running: Where to begin?
This is the first in what will be a series of posts about endurance sports. My intention is to describe in detail how to begin, get comfortable, and grow to love endurance sports! Running is by far the most convenient, accessible, and affordable form of endurance training. The big question is always… where to begin?
Let’s start with a goal. No, I don’t mean your big-hairy-audacious-goal, just where you’d like to be in a few weeks, or a couple months. This is often is represented by an image of you doing something. It could be running a 5k, or just consistently increasing your weekly mileage or time. Take a moment to think about where you’d like to be.
- Goal: short-term: _________________________________________________
Next, let’s look at your purpose. Why do you want to run? What’s the prime motivator? Think this one through. Your purpose is the most important factor in you sticking to your plan, and making a lifestyle of your fitness.
- Purpose: _________________________________________________________
Ok, now we need to look at your current fitness level. Are you fit? Do you have a background in running or another endurance sport? Have you been consistently going to the gym over the past month? Year? Several years?
- Current Fitness Level: _____________________________________________
Let’s look at your accessibility level. Where do you live? Do you like to exercise outside, do you prefer the gym, or do you workout at home? If you are currently inactive, just list what environment you would prefer, or see yourself being most consistent in.
- Preferred Environment: ___________________________________________
All right, now we are getting somewhere. Let’s look at any possible inhibitors to successful running.
a) Are you currently injured?
b) Have you had any significant injuries that limited your physical mobility in the past?
c) Do you know your BMI? If not, do a quick search online and you’ll come up with a quick calculator to figure it out. If your BMI is above 30 you may want consult with your healthcare provider before beginning a running program.
Great. Let’s keep rolling along. Now I’d like to talk a little about clothing, footwear, and all other associated gear. I’m going to focus on running in warmer climates here.
- Running Shoes:
- Sizing/Fit: If you’ve got a pair that fits, or know your general size you can use that as reference. Ideally you will do your shopping locally, at a quality independent running store, but if you choose to shop online, then you’ll need to use either runningwarehouse.com, zappos.com, or another vendor that utilizes “shoefitr” technology.
i. Your foot:
- Wide/narrow forefoot?
- Flat/Medium/High arch?
- Terrain: will you be running on paved or gravel roads, treadmill, track, or trails?
i. Soft, plush, cushioned.
ii. Stiff, inflexible, protective.
iii. Flexible, low to the ground.
- I like to choose a brand, and then outfit myself from there. It’s easiest to get your size dialed in on a certain brand than to have apparel from many different brands.
- Fit: your items should feel good right away. There should be no break in period, rough seems, or annoying materials.
- Fabric: avoid cotton. It doesn’t wick or breathe very well. Stick to polyester or merino blends.
- Have two complete outfits. With a complete outfit consisting of: shorts, short sleeve, long sleeve, socks, and a light jacket.
- Hat: don’t forget to have a comfortable running hat. If the sun is out, you’ll need it.
- Sunglasses: polarized is preferred. Fit is key. Make sure they fit perfectly and don’t move around a lot. You don’t want to have to adjust them while running. At higher elevations they are a must.
- Don’t go overboard. Quality over quantity.
- Handheld bottle: find something that fits your hand well. 10-20 ounces is perfect.
i. Amphipod: good ergonomic fit. Good price.
ii. Ultimate Direction: nice nozzle, less ergonomic.
iii. Nathan: good storage, less ergonomic.
- Waist Pack: looks like a large fanny pack. I use these for carrying phone, music, and nutrition, though some are made to carry bottles.
i. Ultimate Direction: lots of variety, easily adjustable.
ii. Salomon: very good products.
iii. Ultraspire: adjustable, good fit and balance.
- Vests/Backpacks: these are not necessary until your runs become over 3 hours in length, without nutrition support/aid.
i. Mountain Hardwear.
iii. Ultimate Direction.
- Watch: you need a watch. Your phone is nice, but a watch will become much more handy and versatile. It’s nice to leave the phone at home as well. I would suggest picking a price point and starting from there.
- Garmin Forerunner series: Great place to start. Good variety.
- Suunto: High end watches. Stylish, versatile.
- Casio, Timex, etc: more for basic timer functions without GPS capability.
- Socks: no cotton! Thin, snug fitting, avoid rough edges. Try them on if you can.
In our next segment we will start to address training for running with beginner and intermediate/basic programs. In the meantime, start moving!