Running is a fantastic way to boost your health, and it's never too late to lace up and hit the pavement. As trusted experts in the Toronto running community, we’re here to guide you through the essentials of running for beginners. Let's get started!
Learn Proper Form
Proper running form is key to preventing injuries and optimizing your performance. There’s a ton of conflicting information out there, so we recommend keeping it simple. Three tips:
- Posture -- Pood posture is important in all aspects of life and running is no different. Focus on an upright posture (think tall thoughts), look into the distance (not down at your feet) and keep your shoulders and arms relaxed. Make sure your arms aren’t swinging across your body much (we want forward momentum, not a twisting motion).
- Foot strike -- Make sure your foot lands under your hips. Studies have shown that HOW your foot lands (fore-foot, midfoot, heel strike) is less important than WHERE your foot lands compared to your body. Make sure your foot is striking the ground under you (not in front). When your foot lands in front, it greatly increases the amount of force running through the body (which we don’t want).
- Pace -- lots of people try to go too fast when they start running. Distance running is an endurance sport! Start at a VERY comfortable pace. This will make running so much easier on your body (and mind) and will greatly decrease your chance of injury. Think “conversational pace” -- a pace that you can talk about traffic/weather, but not a convo that’s too robust. If you can’t talk, slow down. If you can talk without any fatigue, speed up (a little).
Start with a Plan
Before you hit the road, have a plan in mind. A structured training plan can help beginners gradually build their running stamina. Consider a beginner running plan like our Culture Athletics Couch to 5KM program. It offers a digestible, gradual progression to help you learn proper running form and progress safely.
Invest in Proper Footwear
THIS IS NOT A SALES PITCH -- IT’S A FACT! One of the most important investments for a runner is a good pair of running shoes. Visit Culture Athletics (or another specialty running store) for a proper fitting to ensure you get the right pair for your foot type. Running shoes are the most important piece of equipment in the sport of running. It’s how your body connects with the ground and processes all the force that’s running through your body. Proper footwear will provide the comfort and support you need during your runs. The last thing you want is a pesky, avoidable issue to sideline you when it could have easily been avoided!
Warm Up and Cool Down
Don't forget to warm up and cool down before and after each run. It might sound silly (or intimidating), but spend a few minutes with dynamic stretching or light exercises to prepare your muscles for action.Think about how much stretchier a wet piece of rope is compared to one that’s dry. This is what warming up does to your muscles and ligaments. Spend the time to get your blood flowing and your body will thank you (and your run will be SO much better). After your run, cool down and stretch to improve flexibility and reduce post-run soreness. Don’t ignore this one! It will make a BIG difference in your running journey.
Listen to Your Body
Your body is your best guide. Pay attention to any pain, discomfort, or excessive fatigue. Don't push yourself too hard, and take the rest you need. Running should be a rewarding experience, not a painful one. Remember -- you are learning a new skill and your body is adapting like crazy! Pay attention to how you feel and be patient with yourself (become a lifetime runner, not a one and done).
Consistency is key to your progress. Establish a regular running schedule that works for you, whether it's in the morning, during lunch breaks, or in the evening. The more consistent you are, the faster you'll see improvements. Running skill (and it’s benefits) come month over month, year over year. Consistency is key!! Everyone over-estimates what they can do in a day, but underestimates how much they can achieve in a year -- it’s all about stacking good days.
Enjoy the Process
Running is not just about reaching a finish line; it's about the journey itself. Take in the sights, enjoy the fresh air, and appreciate the sense of accomplishment that comes with each run. It's not just about the destination; it's about the path you take to get there. Similar to the previous point, running is skill and getting better needs to be a long-term commitment -- so make sure you like your relationship with running!! You’re the one that will dictate your running routine, mindset and relationship. Craft it into something that fills you up, not breaks you down.
Connect with the Running Community
Running doesn't have to be a solitary activity. Consider joining local running groups or connecting with the online running community. This can provide motivation, support, and valuable insights to enhance your running experience. The Toronto running community is one of the best in the world! Toronto is full of a robust and diverse community of run clubs and training groups. At Culture Athletics, we’ve worked hard to become an active member and pillar in the Toronto running community. Our community is diverse, inclusive and consists of runners of all skills and experiences. We offer a plethora of free community runs, running community events, run coaching programs, expert running guidance and more. We’re always friendly and always looking to help new people get into the sport of running. Don’t be intimidated -- come check us out!!
We know there’s a lot here, but by following these steps, you'll be well on your way to becoming a confident and passionate runner. Remember, running is not just about fitness; it's a journey of self-discovery and a path to better health. Embrace it, and you'll soon find yourself addicted to the joy of running.
Happy running! 🏃♀️🏃♂️