Warm Up Well
Treat yourself like a runner—from day one. That means taking time to properly warm up and cool down. "A good warmup makes it much easier to get going and keep going," says Kastor. "It's much more than just boosting blood flow to your muscles."
Your neuromuscular system, which involves your brain telling your muscles how to contract, gets up to speed. Your body starts churning out fat-burning enzymes, which help your aerobic system work more efficiently. Synovial fluid warms up, which helps lubricate your joints. "Too many beginners skip this step without realizing how much easier it makes the whole workout feel," says Kastor. Cooling down, while less critical, allows your body to gradually adjust from running back to a resting state. "Just a few minutes of walking is all you need to let your heart rate return to normal and for your body to clear out any metabolic waste you created during your efforts," says Kastor.
Two Ways to Warm Up
Spend five to 10 minutes on these simple movements to prepare your body for your run and help prevent injury
WALKING Go at a moderate pace
ACTIVE STRETCHING Side lunges, walking lunges, butt kicks (jog in place, bringing your heel high as though trying to kick your butt), skipping
Vary Your Running Surface
Runners often have strong opinions about where to run. The best solution for you as a new runner may be to simply mix it up, says Glover. "Soft is not necessarily better," she says. "Both treadmills and dirt may seem 'softer' and therefore safer, but they have their issues. A treadmill belt has a slight shimmy when the belt impacts the bed that can contribute to shin issues. Dirt and trails can be uneven and have holes and ruts. Keep it varied; maybe sidewalk one day, paved road the next, and a trail on the weekends."
Need to Know
Q: When will I stop feeling so sore?
A: If you ease into running, your postrun discomfort shouldn't be debilitating. If it is, return to walking and running. However, don't let a little soreness scare you o" . "It's a sign that you're progressing," says Kastor. The ache just shouldn't bleed from one run into the next, he cautions. "Typical soreness should fade as you warm up. If it doesn't, cut your workout short. Do a little cross-training for a couple of days to let that sensation dissipate, so you don't become injured."
Q: What should I do if my (fill in the blank) hurts?
A: Some minor aches and pains are common, and rest should clear them up. Back off by walking or riding a bike for a few days, ice the area a few times a day, and take anti-inflammatories as needed. If you experience sudden, sharp pain while you're exercising, try walking it out for a few minutes. If the hurt doesn't ease, stop immediately and head home. If discomfort persists, see a podiatrist or orthopedist.
Q: When runners run in the road, do they have to use hand signals?
A: Not the way cyclists do. For one, you should be running against, not with, the flow of traffic. But don't assume a driver sees you. Stretch out a hand and make eye contact at intersections. If you're at a stop sign or light, it's a good idea to let drivers know which way you're going, especially if you'll be turning in front of them.
Q: I often get pebbles in my shoe—it's annoying! How can I keep them out?
A: Are the stones sneaking in the back? There may be a gap in your heel. A strategically-placed cosmetic sponge pad can help seal it up. If they're creeping in the sides, lace your shoes snugly, using all the holes. Lastly, if you're ready for another pair, trail-running shoes have a "gusseted" tongue (meaning the seams are sealed to close any gaps), which keeps pebbles and trail debris out of the shoe.