As the weather gets warmer, we begin to see more and more people out enjoying outside physical activity. While some choose cycling, soccer, or other outdoor sports, running remains one of the top choices for outdoor athletes and the general hobbyist.
With hundreds of people hitting the pavement for the first time each and every spring, we often see people in our clinics with the same kinds of injuries year after year. Some people view running as an “easy” sport which really just requires two things; you and your shoes. While this may be true in part, most common injuries can be mitigated or prevented entirely by following a reasonable training plan.
On Your Mark, Get Set…
Before starting any regime of physical activity, be sure to consult with your physician about what type of activity is right for you. If you’re new to running, or have been inactive for some time incorporating some strength training or basic cardio activity before starting into a running program may be a good choice.
If you’re returning to running after an injury, bear in mind that you likely will not be able to return at the same level at which you departed. Engaging in a “return to activity” program or a “learn to run” program might be the better option. Returning to running after Plantar Fasciitis? Check out our Return to Activity chapter in The Plantar Fasciitis Plan for comprehensive information about retuning to running after healing from Plantar Fasciitis.
But, Which Plan is Right for Me?
A quick Google search shows over 17 million results when you search “beginner guide to running!” So, how do you choose the right plan?
First, you need to decide which style of plan will work best for your needs. Depending on your personal preference, fitness level, previous experience, personal schedule and other factors, some programs may be better suited to you.
Running groups are a great option for those who want to incorporate an element of social interaction with their new exercise regimen. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can increase your chances for success, even when training gets tough! Find local running groups at local running shoe stores like The Running Room, Runner’s Choice, and New Balance stores. Don’t have a running store near you? Check out Facebook, or do a quick web search to find a group near you.
Online programs are another great option, particularly for those who wish to participate solo. Great for people with unpredictable schedules, online programs give you a bit more flexibility, while still providing structure and guidance. If you are training for a specific race or distance, there are numerous training programs aimed at a gradual increase, often incorporating cross-training. New to running but still not up for joining a group? Check out the Couch to 5K (C25K) programs which are aimed at easing you into an activity from a sedentary lifestyle. Runner’s World also has several programs aimed at varying levels of fitness and experience.
Self-directed running & smartphone apps are gaining popularity in recent years, with more and more gadgets available to help people track their activity. For those with a bit more self discipline, or desire to do things their own way, a self-directed program might be the best fit. Most apps have lightly structured programs, in addition to “freestyle” running tracking, allowing the user to choose pace, distance and training schedule at a whim. MapMyRun, Runkeeper and Strava are among the most popular running-focused apps. While each app has its own unique features and feel, they all track and record your running statistics, allow integration with social media, and pair with other gadgets like a FitBit, Apple Watch and other activity trackers.
No matter what your plans for running are, always be sure to consult with your physician prior to starting or returning to activity. If you have concerns about injuries, footwear or any other foot-health concern, we are here to help! Contact your SoleScience Pedorthist for a consultation today!