Have you recently joined in on the running trend that seems to be sweeping the globe? You’re not alone. The number of runners have all but double in the last 10 years alone. The sport certainly has gone a long way from the 1970’s when it first took off.
These days, there are marathons left and right. More and more, “fun runs” are becoming a favorite activity. And fitness enthusiasts, weight watchers and those looking for an enjoyable and accessible exercise are taking to the streets and hitting the pavement.
If you have taken to running, then you probably have a favorite time of the day to do it, too. There are differing benefits to running in the morning, early afternoon or during dusk. Whenever, or wherever, you choose to run, though, it’s important that you know how to do it while keeping yourself safe. That starts with running right.
- Buy the right kind of running shoes.
If you’re lucky to have normal arches, almost any kind of running shoe should be fine. However, if you have high or low arches, then you have to ensure you get shoes that fit your type. Otherwise, you may be risking injury.
- Start slow.
Many people tend to start running on their own. It could be because they are ashamed of their general lack of fitness. Or it could be that running sounds like a pretty straightforward activity that requires no additional skill or instruction.
However, joining a running club with experienced coaches, or buddying up with an experienced runner has its benefits. They can guide you in your runs and ensure you aren’t over-exerting yourself.
- Let the body recover.
“No pain, no gain” will not serve you well here. Running, like any other exercise, will put a strain on your body. This damages your body. Don’t fret, though. The “damage” is actually good. It will allow the body to repair and recover. This process will rebuild the parts much stronger than before. That’s how the physical condition improves. But not allowing the body to recover also means the body won’t be able to do the necessary repairs efficiently.
Repetitive strain can also result in tendonitis and kneecap pains. Speaking of pain…
- Don’t ignore the pain.
If you feel any pain at all while running, or even after the activity, then stop and see a doctor. Runners commonly get knee injuries. But they can also be susceptible to injuries in the hip, pelvis, quadriceps, hamstrings and other areas.
- Maintain your ideal weight.
For every pound of the body, the equivalent force to the knees is 5 pounds. That means when you’re overweight, the extra weight will put a considerable load on the joints. Of course, that’s not to mention that excess weight also factors in the increased risk for osteoarthritis, among other illnesses. So if you’re running, keep your weight at the ideal. If you’re already overweight, then consider starting with an exercise that puts less strain on your knees, like biking.
- Do not neglect your ACL.
The anterior cruciate ligament or ACL accounts for approximately 150,000 injuries in the US each year. Women, especially, are at a higher risk for ACL tears. This is another reason why running with someone experienced is better. He can teach you how to improve your agility and leg strength and get better knee joint stability.
Of course, running also poses some risks not just to the body’s health. Running at night for one, can increase the risk for assault. So on top of the tips above, consider the following, too.
- Do not run alone. Attackers are less likely to go after a pair or a group than an individual.
- Ditch the earphones. Loud music means you can’t hear the approach of a potential attacker or even simple traffic.
- Alter your route. Running the same one everyday makes you an easy target for stalkers.
- Run against the traffic. This makes it easier for you to dodge vehicles that may have accidentally hit you. Plus, it makes it harder for someone to attack you when vehicles can see you coming.
- Carry pepper spray. Or runner’s mace. It fits easily around your hand with a Velcro strap and is highly effective in stopping someone. Of course, you might want to check if it’s legal in your state first.
- Wear appropriate clothing. That means not wearing dark clothes when running at night. You may also want to invest in reflectorized vests or other items that will highlight you when you run. This significantly decreases the risk of accidents.
Running is a fun activity. It’s easy and quite effective, too. Just make sure you’re keeping your safety in mind when you do it. Otherwise, the activity will be for naught.