Running is a fantastic sport for many reasons. Not only is it practically free but it’s one of the easiest high calorie burning sports to get into. What’s more, it reduces your risk of many common ailments, such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and in later life, strokes. Add to that the fact it boosts your mood, and it’s easy to see why more and more people are hitting the road. Yet, as with any sport, it’s great to have goals. One that’s obtainable for everyone is running a seven-minute mile. To help you reach this milestone, we’ve put together some top tips that’ll get you there in seven months or less.
1. Start nice and easy
If you’ve been passive for a while, you shouldn’t just start running around the block and expect everything to be awesome. However, the entry level running alternative is just as obvious: walking. Walk for twenty minutes every day for a few weeks. Almost instantly, you’ll notice how your muscles, which technically speaking are destroyed and rebuilt with activity and rest, are getting stronger each day.
2. Get proper running shoes
While running doesn’t require a lot of gear, you want to treat your feet and legs well. Good running shoes absorb a lot of shock and will reduce the risk of trauma. Don’t overinvest in expensive shoes, but replace them regularly, every 500 kilometers or so. This avoids dealing with worsened protection for the hardware you’re working with: your body. Happily, specialists like Salomon have a huge selection of top-notch options for every type of running.
3. Check your technique
Everything you do with your body requires technique and practice. By forming the right running habits, you can minimize strain and injury and obviously enjoy yourself more.
Basic tips include the following:
- Keep your head straight and look forward to reduce tension. Your jaw and neck should be relaxed.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed, back and down. Hunching over and tension inhibit your breathing, which means your muscles will get less oxygen.
- Your arms should be relaxed, too, but not to the degree of flopping. Tension in your hands spreads to the back and shoulders.
- To not waste energy, keep your arms bent at around a 90 degree angle. Swing them back and forth rather than across your body, to help you move forward.
- Lean forward rather than bending in either direction. This avoids placing pressure on your hips.
- Avoid complicated acrobatic waltzes like rocking your hips or swaying your behind. Rather, keep your hips stable and facing forward. This will lower the risk of back and hip pain.
- Landing on the middle of your foot is the best option for recreational runners. Land your feet below your hips, not in front of you.
- Take short, easy steps. Don’t strike to the ground. This is the best way to avoid unnecessary strain on your body.
- Focus on keeping your breath deep and rhythmical. Whether you should breathe through your nose or mouth is down to personal preference, but the main point is to avoid quick, shallow breathing.
4. Plan your running
Planning ahead is important for not being forgetful – deliberately or not. Figuring out a nice and safe route in advance will both help keep you going and make running easier. Happily, Sports Tracker’s route planner has all you need to ensure the run does the job. It also helps to keep a diary for both tracking and scheduling. Try running twice a week, every week. That’s much more efficient than, for example, running like crazy every third week.
5. Keep it interesting
When you plan your runs, try and mix up your routes a bit so you don’t get bored. If you’re not the type who feels at one with the universe whenever your heart gets pumping a bit, listen to something. There are tons of spoken word podcasts and audiobooks out there, but it might be tough to focus on those when under strain . Luckily, nearly all music streaming apps for your phone, like Spotify and Apple Music, have curated playlists for running. Also, consider getting a pair of running-friendly wireless Bluetooth headphones so you can keep your phone tucked away while on the move.
6. Be sure to warm up
Good progress is gradual. It’s really essential that you start by running slow and add speed and distance over time. This applies to each individual run, too. Start out with at least five minutes of warm-up, in the form of quick walking, marching on the spot, side stepping, climbing stairs or knee lifts. The choice is yours, just let your muscles get a gentle start.
7. Alternate between walking and running
Again with the walking: it’s a good alternative to running. Let your body decide what feels good and increase the distance of your first outings by switching between running and walking. A walk stretches your muscles and can literally be your first step towards an increasingly active lifestyle.
8. Get company
Whether you find a friend to run with or join a club of runners, there are useful apps like Sports Tracker to help you out. Apps like our very own can help you organise running groups to get you off the couch, find motivation or even compete, if you’re so inclined. Whatever way you find motivation, why not make use of the gadgets that otherwise might keep you passive?
These top tips have worked for us. If you have any more that have worked for you, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Image credits: Alan Hill