Resident runner to the In My Humble Opinion Blogosphere, Dell of Dogg Haus Runners, has spent the past 10 years running marathons and adventure races from Washington, DC to San Francisco.
He started Dogg Haus Runners with a goal of increasing the number of minorities crossing the finish line with him. He agreed to help us get started with our “There by Foot” section with a few basic tips for beginner runners. We’ll let you know in a few short weeks whether his tips prove successful. As always, we love to hear from you. Leave a comment for Dell R. at the end of this blog.
The dog days of summer are behind us and there is no better time than the fall/winter to get outside, enjoy the cool weather, and get in some light running. While casual running is recommended for beginners, signing up for a race will help you set personal goals and hopefully stick to them.
Below are a few basic tips to get you on your way to running your first of what I hope will be many races:
- Double Knot
Your equipment, while minimal for runners, is essential to having an enjoyable experience as you train for and run your race. Comfort, not style, is key. While the latest pair of $150 running shoes may promise to improve your performance, usually a nice pair of trainers will suffice. I recommend getting them a half size larger to prevent blistering. Most important, don’t forget to double knot your laces. In my years of running nothing is more annoying than your laces coming a loose during a race.
- Remember Comfort Not Style
In addition to the double knot rule, remember to wear comfortable clothing. A loose pair of short or light sweats, ‘quick dry’ t-shirt and moisture wicking socks are essential to a good start. Be sure not to overdress doing your training. You’ll find yourself overheating or pulling off layers before you know it. Don’t let your clothing be a distraction to completing your goals.
- Music or No Music
While music is a great motivator, it can also hinder you during training. Remember, you want to concentrate on your pace and heart rate. Going full sprint to one of your favorite songs can have an adverse effect after it goes off. While there is no right or wrong answer here, be cognizant of this when training to tunes. Listening to the cadence or beat of your feet can be as good a training aid.
- Fuel Up (But not too much)
This tip varies greatly dependent on an individual’s body type and diet. Personally, I cannot run with anything on my stomach, while running partners of mine need a full tank prior to hitting the pavement. With the fear of sounding like Mr. Athletic Coach, I’ll refrain from discussing blood glucose and liver glycogen. At a minimum, you should have an electrolyte charge in the form of your favorite sports drink or sports gel. A half of a bagel or banana won’t hurt you either.
- Pace Yourself
While a seven-minute mile may be your personal goal, don’t be afraid to brisk walk or light jog during your training. One of the keys to running is properly managing your heart rate. If you’re panting, then you’re in recovery mode, making your run more difficult. Increase your speed slowly over time. If you run a 12-minute mile today, shoot for an 11.5-minute mile over your next two runs, and so on. Later in your training, you can introduce “Tempo Running” to improve your speed.
- Your Heart Will Thank You Later
In my opinion, breathing is the single most important aspect of running. In short, taking in deep breaths (inhale over four steps, exhale over three steps) will help you manage your heart rate – thus improving your endurance and reducing fatigue. Also, belly breathing vs. chest breathing can increase the amount of oxygen intake to the lungs. Both of these breathing techniques become more difficult as your speed increases, but over time they will prove beneficial as your distance increases.
- Sixty One Percent
The exact percentage is subjective, but running is as much a mental activity as it is physical. You’ll never experience more distress than your first couple of miles of running. Muscles you never knew existed will begin sending signals to the brain “Hey I’m aching, let’s rest ”. Find your motivation and strive to overcome those mental hurdles. I like the term ‘ “Nothing stops a train!”, now get your caboose off that sofa…
- Keep Your Head Down (Not literally)
While knowing the future can be advantageous to you if you’re playing the lottery, seeing that approaching hill off in the distance can be a little intimidating. Enjoy your run and surroundings, but try not to get caught up looking too far ahead of yourself. Don’t forget to smell the roses!
- Burn It Up!
As I mentioned in tip 4, tempo running, or sometimes call threshold runs, can help to improve your time, but isn’t for the faint of heart. Talk to five runners and you’ll get five different definitions of this training technique. Since we’re just getting started I’m not going to touch this topic. I’ll simply say, don’t allow those around you to set your tempo. Focus on improving your distance first. Your speed will improve over time.
- Don’t Forget to Have Fun
Contrary to everything you’ve heard, running can be both enjoyable and rewarding. The sense of accomplishment and hearing the thousands of cheers from the supporters over the last hundred yards of your race is indescribable. Enjoy your surroundings, smile at the sun, and don’t forget to have fun!
- Find a Partner
I’ll start by pointing some of the benefits of running with a partner. It can be a good ‘pick me up’, it makes it harder to skip your run, and you can share pace setting responsibility. That said don’t be dependent on having a partner to start your training. Distance running is an individual sport, and in most cases, it’s you versus the road. There is plenty of motivation to gain with or without a partner once you’re out there. So get out there and have some fun!
- Walking Equals Running
Don’t believe the hype. A mile of walking doesn’t equate to a mile of running. While the distance is the same, increased heart rate and motion add to more calories burned, strengthening of muscles, and the speeding of your metabolism. Enough said!
Before you run you should always consult a physician to ensure you’re heart is healthy enough for strenuous activities. Also, be sure to flash a peace sign to your fellow runners.