Higher temperatures and longer days attract new runners, but novice athletes should remember to find the right outdoor rhythm before hitting strenuous routes, experts caution.
Jen Van Allen, a certified running instructor who’s completed 48 marathons, said that while running may strike beginners as a simple, innate form of exercise, it requires just as much time to perfect as any other sport. In order to avoid injuries, everyone must learn at their own pace.
"Certainly when someone pushes body and mind farther there is going to be some discomfort," she said, speaking to Reuters. "But a lot of people make the mistake of running as fast as they can and they get hurt."
Other experts agree, adding that the true benefits of running can only be accessed once the right technique has been perfected. "It's actually one of the hardest goals, and more immediately important than mileage and calories," Davin Siik, a running coach for Equinox, explained. "People fall out of the habit, often afraid that it's too difficult or too hard on their body."
Together, Allen and Siik recommend that novice runners always keep in mind the following rules:
- Walk for the first four to six weeks. Even if your goal is to run, this will help you get in the habit.
- Consistency is the key to success.
- Record each run in a log. This will help you track your progress and maintain commitment.
- Run with the “runner’s tilt”: A slight forward tilt that shifts your weight off your hips and engages your back muscles.
- Keep your eyes on the horizon.
- Relax your shoulders, and avoid crossing your arms.
By following these steps, you will gradually establish the right technique as well as the required consistency. Soon enough, you’ll hopefully begin to experience some of the countless benefits of outdoor aerobic exercise: improved immune system and lower risk of infection; reduced risk of metabolic disorders; lower levels of stress; and improved psychiatric health.
"Get good shoes, start slow, find your pace," Van Allen told reporters. "It's great to have dreams but in order to get there you have to start where you are."