Elite Feet

Preparation: The First Steps Toward Running

This article is part of a series named Running For Beginners

Luckily, running requires less preparation and fewer materials than virtually any imaginable sport/hobby. When it comes down to it, all you really need is a decent pair of shoes. Nonetheless, here are a few bits of advice for first-time runners.

Visit your doctor

I know many people will neglect this particular point, and that's understandable. But it's never a bad idea to have a check up before starting a new physical activity, especially if you have been inactive for a while.

Find the essential gear

Shadow of runner

Chances are you may already have all of the equipment you need to run. Although enthusiastic runners have demanded all kinds of crazy gear from gps watches to water belts to traction enhancers, all you need is a decent pair of running shoes and comfortable clothing, including socks. Shoes are arguably the most important item in a runner's arsenal; bad shoes have a knack for causing blisters and sore joints throughout the whole body. However, you don't necessarily need the latest high-tech pair to get started. As long as you have some athletic shoes that fit you well and aren't too worn out, you should be fine.

If you are interested in buying a new pair of running shoes, a good pair will generally cost you from $60 to $100 US. If you can, find a specialized running shop, and take your old shoes with you. The employees at these stores are usually very knowledge and they can match you with a good pair of shoes for your specific foot shape and running style.

Plan your running trail

As a new runner, you probably won't need a very long trail, so this part is also fairly easy. Here are some things to consider when you're choosing your running path:

Paved running trail
  • Avoid hills - you don't want to make it any harder than it has to be right now.
  • Motor vehicle traffic should be very low or there should be sidewalks available the whole way.
  • Dirt trails are actually easier on your legs than concrete, but they must have smooth, predictable footing and be well-lit.
  • Some human proximity is good in case you would need help.
  • Water fountains and shady areas are bonuses.
  • Plan on an out-and-back shape so you don't end up too tired to get back to where you started.

Stretch

Stretching is very important for runners, and it should be done before and after the event. You don't have to do anything formal or scientific, just move your all your joints around in different fashions, and gently hold your limbs in their stretch positions for a few seconds. I find it helpful to start with my neck and work my way down to my feet. A comprehensive stretch may take several minutes. At the end you should feel a bit more limber and your heart rate will already have quickened slightly.

Preparation is the easy part! Part II, How to Start Running and Never Look Back, will show you to truly make running a habit.