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You’re sitting on your couch eating a bag of chips when you finally realized you have to start working out. You’ve never done this before so you have a lot of questions in your mind on how to start running for the first time. If so, you’ll most likely benefit from the advice I’ve given to a bunch of my friends who were in the same situation.
Alternate between running and walking for your first run. It should last no more than 30 mins and should contain a warm-up and a cool down. This will make sure you allow your body to adapt to the activity and recover so you can do it consistently.
To find out more about what exactly you should do and what to expect after your first run, stick along to the rest of the article.
What to Do Before You Start Running
While running is one of the most accessible exercises, there are a couple of things that you have to keep in mind before you start running to ensure your safety and comfort.
Get a reliable running shoe. Running shoes are designed to provide comfort and protection to the wearer. Unlike regular sneakers, running shoes have a softer cushion to reduce the impact on your joints. This will lessen your level of fatigue after each running session.
There’s a lot that goes into choosing the right shoe for you. If you live near a running specialty store, they could help you find the shoe that matches your stride. However, if you don’t have access to a running store, read this article to help you with your buying decision.
A running shoe that I recommend for beginners is the Brooks Ghost 14. Not only that it is well-cushioned, but it’s also fairly responsive making it a shoe you could use as you progress.
You should also warm up for at least 10 mins before a run. This will help warm your body up and prepare your body for the activity ahead to help with performance and reduce the risks for injury.
What To Do As You’re Running
To make sure you don’t burn yourself out and cause massive body aches that would likely discourage you from running again, make sure to take it easy on your first run.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to run any specific distance. All you’re trying to do is get used to running as safely as possible. Focus on moving depending on how you feel.
One way to do that is by following a run/walk interval that is comfortable to you. For example, you can run for 2 min and walk for 3 mins and repeat 7 times. As you progress, you can increase the run interval while keeping the walk interval (3 mins run, 3 mins walk) or decrease it (3 mins run, 1 min walk)
You should really experiment on this one. I can’t prescribe a universal duration for a run/walk interval for everyone.
By doing this, you’re allowing your body to ease in into the activity and you’re giving yourself a reason to just enjoy running.
A lot of people quit running after just a few times because they exert tremendous pressure on themselves that they have to run this fast or they have to run this long when they’re only just starting out.
Remember, being slow but consistent is better than being fast one time.
What To Do After Your First Run
Congratulations! You’ve now completed your first run. So now what?
Hydrate! Replace your lost fluids by drinking a cup or two of water. Then, you can follow that up by stretching.
Stretching will prevent muscle tightness in your hip flexors and ankles which is a common cause of overuse injuries among runners.
It’s just a good habit to practice early on. I had to learn that the hard way. I rarely stretched after a workout for nearly 10 years and now I’m paying the price for my laziness. I have limited ranges of motion on several joints which inhibits me to perform certain movements optimally.
You can also supplement the recovery process by taking a cold shower. According to an article published by Healthline.com, taking a cold shower after exercise helps boost muscle recovery.
But more than that, taking a shower is a must for hygienic purposes. You sure don’t want to be “that guy”.
Getting a healthy post-workout meal also helps. The keyword here is “healthy”. You don’t want to open another bag of chips or chug an ice-cold soda after your very first run. Remember, taking in calories is a lot easier than burning them.
You can choose from a variety of options from fruits to whole grains to workout supplements. The key is to have a combination of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals from healthy sources.
Here’s a list of some of the best healthy post-workout meals you can choose from:
- Bananas with peanut butter
- Yogurt with berries
- Banana with protein shake
- Mashed potatos and eggs
Personally, I usually go for bananas with peanut butter and a protein shake with strawberries simply because it’s the most accessible for me.
How Long Should Your First Run Be?
So, you’ve fully committed to running are very excited for your first run. In your mind, you must be thinking “boy I could probably run forever just to lose this weight fast”. Not so fast! It’s important that you keep it easy on your first day.
Your first run should last only 20-30 mins and range around 2-3km depending on your current level of fitness. This will ensure that you’re not overdoing the activity on your first day. This is also long enough so your body is forced to adapt to the new, more intense activity.
What to Expect After Your First Run?
After your first run, you could expect a moment of euphoria or “feeling good” as your body releases a chemical called endorphins.
Endorphins are neurochemicals that are responsible for boosting pleasure and reducing pain. It’s the reason behind the popular “runner’s high” phenomenon and it’s the reason why fitness addicts are workout addicts (aside from the fact that we want to look good, of course).
Then, you’re gonna feel hungry. After an intense bout of exercise that is completely new to you, you might want to get back to your usual habit of eating. But don’t give in. Instead, replace that bag of chips or that bowl of ice cream with banana or yogurt.
Don’t expect you’ll be able to hit the pavement again the day after. Your muscles are gonna feel sore after your first run and it’s likely that you won’t be able to run the next day. But THAT’S OKAY. Don’t beat yourself up for it. It’s probably better for you to take a day off anyway.
That way, give your body enough time to recover and adapt to your newfound sport. And by the way, muscle soreness can last for 1-2 days, don’t freak out about it.
Remember: your body does not improve WHILE you’re running. Physiological changes or “improvements” happen as you rest.
If, however, you don’t feel sore then feel free to hit the pavement again.
Your commitment to doing your first run is already a big step forward towards fitness. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not able to reach your goal distance or duration. IT TAKES TIME.
The more important thing is that you stay committed and consistent to achieve better health and level of fitness. In case you’re wondering, these are the amazing health benefits you’re getting from running.