Have you decided to take up running recently and need some running tips for beginners? Maybe you are taking advantage of the downtime because of the COVID-19 pandemic and you finally have the time to exercise. Good for you! Having a plan is the first step – check out my blog post for a great Running Program for Beginners.
Being a new runner can be difficult, but starting a training plan during a pandemic has some additional challenges. I am going to share with you some running tips for beginners to help you stay safe and on track.
- Gear – The most important piece of gear you own are your shoes. Proper running shoes help prevent injury and will keep you running healthy. I encourage you to use your local running store to get properly fitted. I suggest Flying Feet in York, Inside Track in Lancaster, and Fleet Feet in Harrisburg. All three stores are offering either curbside pickup or they will ship your shoes to you.
- Training Plan – Find a plan and stick to it! Having a training plan is like a road map – it can help you reach your goal.
- Training Log – Track your progress. It can be motivating to see improvement. It also provides a way for you to learn what works for you. There are many ways to keep track of what you run. Find a way that works for you. Some people track their mileage on a paper calendar, others log their miles online. I use google spreadsheets to customize logs for my athletes. In addition to daily miles, we can track weekly mileage, pace, running routes, cross-training, and more.
Before the pandemic, it was easier to find running routes. Local parks, rail trails, tracks and nature areas were busy with runners of all levels and it was a physical and social activity. Things have certainly changed recently and we need to be a bit more creative to practice social distancing. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be out exercising. If you’re new to running, visit a local park or rail trail. If these seem too busy, then hit the roads from your front door.
- Rail Trails – Rail trails can be a great place to start your running program. They are often flat and the softer surface can be a bit more forgiving. I have reviewed a few local rail trails in the RUN717 area in previous posts.
- Trails – You can run anywhere that you hike. Running on trails can be more challenging because of the terrain – rocks, roots, and elevation changes. It can also be more rewarding because of these challenges. There are a few sites like Trail Run Project and All Trails that are great resources.
- MapMyRun – This site allows you to map a route near you and you can search routes that others have done. It provides mileage as well as helpful elevation information.
- Strava – Strava is my favorite running app – it is like Facebook, but for athletes. You can search up runners from your area and “follow” them. I recently moved to a new city and this helped me find new running routes. Segments are my favorite feature. These are portions of road or trail created by members that allow athletes to compare times to others and themselves.
- Track – If you are lucky enough to have an open track near you it can be a great place to start your training. Most runners run counter-clockwise, although when I do a longer workout I change directions. Every runner, no matter their pace, has a right to use a track. It is a common courtesy to leave the inner lanes to athletes who are running faster intervals.
Rules of Road Running
Hitting the road for the first time can be intimidating but with fewer people driving now is the perfect time to get comfortable running on the road. Although running on sidewalks is an option for some, running on a country road can be enjoyable. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Run AGAINST traffic, not with traffic. The only time you should run with traffic is if there is a blind spot due to hills or curves. If you can’t see the cars approaching you, they can’t see you.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Running with headphones is a hotly debated topic. I suggest you leave the headphones at home when road running.
- Runners have some disgusting habits. It goes without saying that now is NOT the time to spit, blow a snot rocket, or share drinks with fellow runners.
- MASK or NO MASK? Obviously, if it is mandated in your area you don’t have a choice. When I run in the city, I wear a mask. If I run on country roads, I don’t worry about it. Thankfully it is not mandated here, but staying healthy and keeping others safe is a priority.
What about running alone? I hate that I even have to bring this up but in the past, we’ve been told to avoid running alone, especially if we are female. During this pandemic, we’re told to run solo. So which is it? What’s a girl to do? Use common sense. If you live with a runner, you are fortunate in having a running partner. If you have to run solo, carry a phone, run in daylight, and be sure to tell someone your plans.
You have to decide what is right for you. Sometimes the benefits outweigh the risks. I believe in social distancing. I am avoiding groups, popular running routes and times, and I wear a mask if I am running somewhere that I might encounter others. If you are scared to run alone, run with a partner but do so safely. It isn’t ideal but running with someone while keeping your distance might be safer than running alone.
Have a question I didn’t address? Visit my RUN717 Facebook page and ask me there!