Kara Goucher, the Olympic distance runner, is well-known for her infamous statement, “I was born to run.” We often believe that elites and other athletes are the only ones who have what it takes to be a runner. However, no matter your weight, fitness level or other “setback” you may think you have, you too can be a runner. All you need is the right gear, some inspiration and lots of dedication.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Shoes and socks. These are the two most important aspects of running gear. If you are going to run, you must get fitted for the right shoes and invest in good socks. Check out your local runner’s store to get your foot and gait (pattern of movement) measured so that you are wearing shoes that support how you run. Socks are equally as important. Popular brands such as Balega and Thorlo manufacture some of the best running socks out there on the market.
- Heart Rate Monitor. This is a great investment to make. A good heart rate monitor will range in price from $100 to over $300. It is important to monitor your heart rate during your runs so you stay in a pattern of good oxygen output that is comfortable at varying intervals. There are online sites that can help you determine what interval rates are good for you based on age, weight and gender.
- Hydration. Hydrating during your runs is important to prevent heat exhaustion, especially during the summer season. Some people prefer to run without a bottle of water; while others need to constantly hydrate. A fuel belt is a great way to run with your hands free and still allows you the ability to carry fluids with you. The fuel belts range in size. Some belts have 6 oz bottles, while others have 8-10oz bottles. The key is not to weigh yourself down with the belts. The belts also have a pouch for carrying your cell phone or keys.
- Stretching. Stretching before and after your runs is vital to muscle recovery. You should always stretch before you run so that your muscles and joints do not tense up. Many runners suffer with calf pain and shin splints due to poor circulation or not enough stretching. If you continuously fight shin splits, consider investing in a pair of compression socks to help increase blood circulation.
- Nutrition. What you eat before your runs, during your long runs, and after your runs is important. If you are going to run for less than an hour, a small snack such as a banana with peanut butter will do the trick. If you are running for an hour to two hours, you might want to consider experimenting with power gels. These are little packets of energy that provide you with electrolytes and help power your runs. Be sure to drink enough water when you ingest these as they can cause stomach problems if not digested well. After your runs, you should always eat protein for muscle recovery. Jay Robbs or Mix Protein shakes are excellent sources of protein and have less calories than many leading brands of shakes.