New Year New You: 5 Foundational Tips

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What better way to kick off the new year than by getting a new hobby or brushing up on your current technique? 

There’s a reason why running is one of the most popular sports in the world. Consistent running strengthens muscles, improves heart health, lowers blood pressure, releases happy hormones, and is a great way to get plugged into the community or charity causes. 

Check out these 5 foundational tips to get a great start or improve your existing technique!

  1. Start Slow: Running proficiency can take time and be an overwhelming process. Ease your body into it by beginning with walking for the first few weeks. When you are ready to start, first focus on increasing your time active, then as your training progresses you can work towards increasing speed and distance.
     
  2. Warm-Up/Cool Down: Easing your body into any kind of rigorous exercise is an absolute must. For warmups, consider 10 minutes of walking or gentle dynamic exercises like jumping jacks, high-knees, and leg swings. At the end of your run or walk cool down with at least 30s of gentle lunges and stretches.  
     
  3. Gear Basics: The right tool for the right job! When you first start out your shoes are likely going to be your most significant buy. When you begin walking (see point #1), pay attention to your footfall. Most people will be able to purchase a “neutral” shoe with no corrections, but if you have a foot that rotates inwards or outwards you may need a corrective shoe. Choosing a running shoe can be a relatively simple process, try going to a sports or running-centered store (many even offer free footfall evaluations). 

It’s important to note that needing to “break-in” your new kicks is a myth! Your shoes should be comfortable and fit well from the moment you try them on.
 

  1. Find Your Breathing Pattern: Mouth? Nose? Both? While personal preference may vary, most runners either employ a “2-2” or “3-1” pattern. In 2-2 breathing patterns you will take 1 deep breath in through your nose for every 2 steps taken, and breath out for two steps. With the “3-1” breathing pattern take 1 deep breath over 3 steps and exhale over 1. 
     
  1. Proper Form Review: Even seasoned runners can experience form breakdown over time. Proper running form helps to protect against injury, fatigue, and burnout, so let’s review the basics: 
     
    • Arms: Arms are a big part of running power. Let them swing naturally and at a 90-degree angle, without crossing over the centerline of your body. Proper arm form will help to preserve your energy and create momentum!
       
    • Feet: If your arms are your power in running then your legs are your strength. Footfall preferences vary, including heel-striking, mid-foot, and forefoot strikes (usually reserved for barefoot runners). Ensure that in each of these your foot is landing directly under your body. This is not only the most efficient, but helps preserve healthy knees and joints.
       
    • Body: Your body should be upright and relaxed. Avoid hunching or bending from the hips. Keep your shoulders loose, and as you run lean slightly forward. Keep your upper body upright yet relaxed.  

Take good care of yourself and your technique in the new year, wherever you are in your running journey. Most of us are in this hobby for the long haul, and ensuring that you have a great starting foundation is a great way to enjoy every step!

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