Do you ever wonder what happens to your body when you jog? The type of shoes and the type of path you run on can have a major impact on the health of your hips and feet. Even the weather you run in can affect the performance of your muscles and cardiovascular system.
Even the type of clothing you wear can make or break your performance – everything from breathable outerwear to UV blocking shades. So read on if you want to learn more about the best way to jog, before you end up meeting my good friend Charlie Horse!
So what is the first step? You might think that heading outdoors is the way to go, but jogging requires more planning than that. Like any exercise regime, you need to put some thought into the process before you get things going. For example, those old joggers that have been collecting dust in the closet may not be the best footwear for your heavier frame. Plus, jogging has become a very technical sport, so you might want to check out some of the new toys that are available. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Check out your gear! If you have some old joggers, they might still be okay. Check the tread for extreme wear. You should also ensure that the outsole is not separating, which happens over time.
2. Jogging suit. Most people jog in whatever they have piled on the floor of the closet, but you might want to consider an update. If you like using sweats, then make sure the suit you have has no holes, stains, or anything else that might look out of place.
3. Rain suit. True joggers run in all weather, so you need a good suit to keep you dry, un-sweaty, and cool looking. Whatever old, heavy raingear you might be thinking about using, could cause you to overheat and chafe.
4. Electronics. There are lots of cool gadgets that you can use to monitor your heart, breathing, lap time, etc. Make sure whatever you are using is charged up and ready to run.
After you have assessed your situation, then it might be a good time to go to the mall to pick up some new gear. Why? Well, if you spend some money and take jogging seriously, then there is a much better chance that you will stick with it. A good place to start is to find a local sports store that specializes in running. For example, the Running Room. They specialize in all forms of running, offer clinics, organize groups and races, and will help you plan everything you need to get started and to stick with it.
Here are some key essentials for every runner:
1. Joggers – the most important element. Your joggers are your first line of defense from the shock of impact you experience with every stride.
2. Clothing – focus on lightweight clothing that won’t cause you to chafe or sweat. Sweating will keep you warm on cold days, but you will start to get cold – which is bad. Layering is best, and there are many companies that offer ‘bodysuit’ style running gear that will even cut down on wind resistance.
3. Wind and rain suit – get something that is breathable, lightweight, and waterproof. Running in the rain can be a total rush, plus you usually have the streets to yourself.
4. Sunglasses – get something that has good UV protection, and a pair that is made for athletes. You don’t want them bouncing off when you are sprinting to make a light!
5. Sun block – use it! Running outdoors is awesome, but you need to protect yourself from a burn. Make sure you buy sun block that is water and sweat proof.
6. Electronics – there are many different monitors and such, and many come with websites that allow you to enter your data so you can track your cardio performance over the long term. It is a great way to monitor your return, so that you know when you should change things up to keep yourself at peak performance.
Now that you have your gear and you have (possibly) made contact with a running group, it’s time to prep for your jog. You don’t want to injure yourself right out of the gate, so you need to take a few precautions early in the start-up phase.
- Start slowly – don’t try to run a marathon the first day out. Start with an easy to reach target and then you can increase the distance and time as you get your legs and lungs up to speed.
- Stretch before, during, and after!
- Listen to your feet! Blisters are bad news, so make sure that you wear heavy sport socks and use bandages if your new runners cause irritation.
- Grass is better than cement for newbies, while sand can be very exhausting. Gravel and grass are much easier on the feet and hips.
- When to go? Cooler is better than hot, so try to run at dawn or dusk.
So you have donned your gear. You’ve planned out your route. And you just completed the warm up and the stretching. And now you need to start running. If you decided to join a group or run with a buddy, then make sure you run at your own pace. You can start doing wind sprints in a month, but for now you need to get your rhythm and your breathing down pat. If you push it too hard in the beginning, you might wind up with some pulled muscles that will take a month to heal.
So make sure you go slow, and if you get tired or feel a cramp or sharp pain, then walk for a few blocks until it subsides. If a pain persists, then walk home and take a day off. Finally, make sure you don’t run every single day! It is hard on your body, especially your hips, shins, and feet. Run every other day to keep the stress to a low level, so you can keep running for years. And one other thing – watch out for dogs!