Running can be a simple, low to no cost way to get in shape and lose weight.

If you’re thinking about heading out for your first run, here are a few things to keep in mind to help you have the best experience.

Think preparation, planning, and safety.

  • Preparation - Make sure you’ll be comfortable.

Season & Temperature

  • As a beginner, it’s best to avoid extremes. Wait instead for a pleasantly warm or slightly cool day, depending where you live and your preference for warmer or cooler weather

Hydrate

  • On a run, it can be annoying to carry a water bottle with you. So if you don’t, make sure to drink water beforehand (but watch how much and when so you don’t need a washroom break midway!) And drink lots of water once you come back to replenish.

Clothing

  • Wear layers. As your heart rate and body temperature rises, you may want to remove an outer layer like a sweater or long sleeve top.

Footwear

  • With lots of options, your best bet is trial and error. Visit your local running store. They’ll usually have staff trained to help you find the best shoes (considering your foot dimensions, where you put your weight in your step, and your choice of activity).
  • If you will also be doing sports, group fitness classes, or activities where you will also be moving side to side, you may want to consider a cross-trainer.

  • Plan - Have you heard the expression “how can you get there, if you don’t know where you’re going?”

Route

  • You should at least decide roughly where you are going to run so you can plan your way back, before you get too fatigued.
  • You may or may not want to plan out your route for a set distance goal.
  • There a lot of smart phone apps that can help you pre-map or track your route as you go. It’s a great motivation tool and you can even track your progress. I’m using Run Keeper  (and love it!), and I have some of my personal training clients and friends that use Map My Run.

Strategy

  • As a new runner, a great method to start with is alternating between walking and jogging, using “10/1”. You can start 1 minute running with a 10 second rest, working up to 10 minutes running for every 1 minute of walking.
  • Use a stopwatch or your timer on your cell phone.
  • If you are new to cardio exercise, start first with walking for several weeks or months until your fitness level improves.

  • Safety – Be prepared, be smart.

Recreation Path or Road

  • If you’re not on a sidewalk or path, you should be running against traffic. You can see what’s ahead of you and also drivers expect you to be coming towards them.

Be alert

  • Especially as a female, avoid heavily wooded or deserted areas.
  • If you’re running alone, it’s a good idea to have a mobile phone in case of emergency and stay alert of where you are if anyone needs to come to get you.
  • Carry your health card, just in case.

Protection and Visibility

  • Wear sunglasses and sunscreen to protect your eyes and skin in the daytime, and wear reflective clothing and bright, light colours so people can see you (especially at night)

And…

Entertainment or Nature?

Depending on what you like, many people enjoy listening to music while they workout.

Create a “workout” playlist from your personal music collection, so you can avoid slow songs that might drag you down. Sometimes I share workout playlists on this site, so feel free to check them out for ideas. Lady Gaga’s music actually has a great beat to run to!

I used to workout with my iPod but I got frustrated with the wires always getting tangled or the earbuds falling out.

My new must-have when doing cardio or weight training is my Sony Walkman - I know what you’re thinking but no, not the old school bulky cassette player (remember those!), but their new sleek wireless mp3 players. You load your music right into the headset, and all the controls are easily available in your ear.running, music while exercising

[And no, I’m not affiliated with or being compensated for mentioning this product, I just genuinely love it!]

You can also get wireless Bluetooth headphones that can sync with the music on your smart phone without having to be plugged in.

Or, truly unplug and use the time to enjoy nature. Maybe people find running a great time to think.

Ready for the next level?

Once you’ve established a cardio base, signing up for an event is a great motivation to stay on track and empowering goal to accomplish.

Although I don’t consider myself a runner per say, I understand and can empathize to the mental focus and needs of being a runner. I have participated in several 5 and 10km races plus trained for and completed two half marathons (21.1km).

You can also challenge yourself by:

  • Gradually adding more distance, or
  • Work and train to cover the same distance in less time.

Cross training for better performance

I’m a big believer in cross training to help your performance.

In my personal fitness program, I make sure to include:

  • Weight training,
  • Flexibility training,
  • plus, other types of cardio exercise

Sport-specific resistance training and stretching can help your performance. Many personal trainers can build an exercise program specific to your sport. You can also benefit from yoga classes to release tight muscles. Some yoga teachers will offer private yoga classes, and you can ask for someone with experience running.

Try to keep these few things above in mind each run. I hope it helps you have the best experience possible!

If you’re looking to start a running program for weight loss or to get healthy, contact me for your complimentary 15 minute consultation to discuss how in-home personal training, private yoga sessions and nutrition services like Accountability Coaching™ can help you get there.

And pay it forward!

Share this article and leave your comments below with your favourite running tips or portable music players and songs.

Note: Remember, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.