Have you decided to start a running program for 2023? You're not alone. The beginning of the year is when many people start or re-start a training program. Those that stick with it follow a plan. Be that person. Beginning runners always have a lot of questions, most of which are addressed below. These are the words of wisdom for the beginning runner from a running coach. Soak it all in, stay strong, work your plan and keep these things in mind.
Eating: Should you choose to eat before your run, make it something light about 1-2 hours beforehand. 1/2 banana, oatmeal or 1/2 bagel are usually sufficient. Everyone is different on this though, so experiment a bit and find out what works for you.
Hydration: Always drink plenty of water the night before your run and then again before and right after your run. Bring a bottle with you. Better to have some water sloshing around in your stomach than to be dehydrated.
Stretching: Pre-Run, less is more. Make sure you warm up first and then you may want to do a few gentle key stretches. See the blog post "Stretch Your Way to Fitness" for some tips on stretching. One thing to keep in mind is you want static stretching, never bouncing. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and back off if you feel pain. Stretching done properly should feel good. After your run, a few more key stretches are in order but the bulk of your stretching should be done at home no more than a half hour after your run. Yoga is absolutely perfect for a complete after run body stretch. I encourage all my runners to find a good yoga class and attend regularly.
Breathing: In through the mouth to a count of two and out through the mouth to a count of two, so in two, out two. Nice and rhythmic. If you get side stitches ( that pain in your side) slow down, take a deep, full breath and push your abdomen out as you breathe in. Hold for just a second or two and then slowly exhale. Concentrate on taking deep breaths as you run, side stitches are caused by shallow breathing
Form: Stand tall, not leaning either forward or backward. Shoulders down and relaxed. Hold your arms at your hip bones with your hands loose. Make sure you swing your arms in a forward motion, never side to side across your body. Take short steps, your footfall should be under your knee, not in front of your knee.
Pace: Remember to go slow. Take walk breaks. I cannot stress this enough. In the beginning, slow is good. Never compare yourself to another runner. Your pace is your pace and it should feel somewhat comfortable. If you cannot talk while you are running, chances are you are going too fast. It isn't a race (yet). We are simply training to finish a 5k comfortable and without injury. Resist the temptation to go fast.
Have fun with this, do not take it too seriously right now although do decide to commit and don't let excuses get in the way of you following through and getting fit. Remember a big part of running is the mental aspect. For more on this, see the blog post titled "Try a Mantra on Your Next Run". In general just do not allow yourself to think or say anything negative. A little planning and a positive attitude will take you far.