New To Running? Here’s your how-to guide!

By Kim McDevitt, MPH RD on May 1, 2014 , categorized in Active Living, Endurance

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Whether your friends convinced you, you’ve decided to conquer a long-time goal, or you’re ready to experience what everyone is posting on Instagram, perhaps you’ve decided to start navigating the ins and outs of all things running. Ready to learn how to talk like a runner, look like a runner, eat like a runner, and most important of all, run like a runner? Start here:

1.   Make a Plan

To be most successful in starting your running journey, it’s essential to find and follow a plan.

  • If you’ve never run before, there’s a fantastic Couch-to-5K app that’s a perfect place to start. Over the course of 9 weeks you will start slow and gradually build you to running your first 5K (3.1miles).
  • If you’ve dabbled with running and feel ready to take on a bigger challenge such as a 10K (6.2 miles) or a half-marathon (13.1miles) there are a lot of fantastic training plans to help get you there. Most will customize your training based on experience, race distance and goals. Some of my personal favorite plans come from the Hanson’s Distance ProjectHal Higdon and Runner’s World.

2.   Talk the Talk

You have your training plan in hand, but it sounds like a foreign language. Before you lace up your shoes, exercise your brain by deciphering running language.

  • Easy run: you should be able to maintain comfortable conversation the entire run.
  • Fartleks: an easy pace run mixed in with quick bursts of sprinting. Often you pick an object a couple blocks away—like a sign or a distinct building—sprint and then slow back down to an easy run.
  • LSD: Long slow distance runs. Depending on the length of the race you’re signing up for, this distance could range from 3 to 22 miles.
  • Pace: The number of minutes it takes to run 1 mile or 1 kilometer.
  • PR: Personal record set by you. This is your “personal best” – the best overall time and pace you hit in a race.
  • Tempo Run: a form of speed training. On this run you hold a comfortably hard pace for 20 minutes or more. Often this comfortably hard pace is the speed you’re hoping to run an upcoming race at.

3.   Walk the Walk

  • Invest in good socks.

You want socks that are “wicking.” This fabric is specially designed to wick away sweat, preventing massive blisters from forming during a run.

  • Get fitted.

The shoe that your best friend raves about might not be the right shoe for you. Head to a running store and get properly sized. Let them know how much you plan to run per week, the type of terrain (trail versus road) and test out a few different styles and brands. Many stores even have treadmills to let you take them for a test spin!

  • Compression.

Compression clothing helps with blood circulation and flow. Knee socks, calf sleeves are most popular but arm sleeves, shorts and shirts can also be beneficial and worn both during training and after, to increase speed of recovery. Pick up a pair at your local running store.

  • Skip the cotton.

You don’t need a lot of fancy clothes to run, but on really hot days or rain I suggest skipping the cotton because it doesn’t dry quickly and traps in the sweat, both of which can lead to chaffing. Synthetic fabrics help wick moisture from your skin keeping you dry and comfortable.

4.   Fuel Right

Don’t overlook nutrition, as it’s an integral part of your training plan.

  • Pre-Workout: Reach for carbohydrates before your run. Easy grabs are a banana, dates, Vega Sport® Pre-Workout Energizer.
  • Mid-Workout: No matter how long you’re running for, it’s never a bad idea to bring water. If it’s a hot day, reaching for a drink with electrolytes would be a good idea as well. If you plan to be out there for sustained endurance (significantly more than 60 minutes) it’s important to consider replenishing lost muscle glycogen (energy). There are lots of gels and chews out there that can support you with this, and it’s recommended you explore for yourself. Everyone has their favorite!
  • Post-Workout: There are many elements to successful recovery. Refuel with both carbs and protein after your run. Your post-workout meal doesn’t have to be any larger than normal, but should focus a bit more heavily on protein.

The Vega Sport® Nutrition System is there for you every step of your training plan—before, during or after your short or long runs.

What are you training for this summer?

Consult your health care practitioner before beginning a new exercise regimen or program. 

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Kim McDevitt, MPH RD

Kim McDevitt works at Vega as a National Educator. A runner, cooking enthusiast, plant-focused flexitarian, Kim has passionately built her career in nutrition. Noticing that her running performances were closely tied to what she was eating, Kim decided to study nutrition and pursue advanced degrees in Dietetics and Public Health, to better understand the power of food in performance. Today, Kim specializes in sports nutrition to enhance athletic performance and focuses on realistic and approachable ways for improving health through educated dietary choices within an active lifestyle.

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