Amanda Herget, co-owner of Gearhead Outfitters along with her husband Ted, has coached a fair share of new runners over the past few years.
Gearhead Outfitters has a 90-day online running program called Project 90, which starts in July each year to prepare runners for fall races. They provide a 90-day training plan for beginners through advanced runners, and they coach on topics including running form, heart rate training, nutrition and more.
We asked Amanda to share some of her best running tips with us now that the weather is getting nicer around the South, and more of us will be heading outdoors for exercise. Because why hit up a treadmill when there’s loads of gorgeous scenery to take in around the South?
Read on for Amanda’s perspective on getting started with running, all the must-have equipment you’ll need, and how to stay safe when running along your chosen path…
People want to start running for a number of different reasons, but most of them want to establish a goal for themselves, or to mend their mind, body or soul.
My recommendation is to start by establishing a goal to make fitness a regular habit, and to create a body you can live with the rest of your life. You could also sign up for a local 5K (10-12 weeks from now) as a personal goal, and you’ll be supporting a charity, too!
I believe the benefits of beginning a running, jogging or walking program are:
Mind: it gives you a peace of mind and a chance to regain perspective, and opportunity to gather inspiration and inspire creativity.
Body: it decreases risk of heart attack, prevents osteoporosis, gives oxygen to the heart, helps with balance and agility, and helps a person to lose or maintain weight.
Soul: it gives oxygen to the brain, prevents or repairs depression and anxiety, helps us to connect with nature, clears the mind, and builds confidence.
PREPARATIONS FOR STARTING A RUNNING PROGRAM:
1. Always speak to a doctor if you have experienced health issues. Exercise is good for you but it can cause dramatic changes in your body.
2. Hydrate. Make sure you are drinking water throughout the day to prepare for your exercise program. The goal is half your body weight in fluid ounces. For example: a 180 pound woman should drink 90 oz of water throughout the day.
3. Avoid eating a large meal an hour before workout. A small snack is okay.
4. Know the difference in soreness and pain. Tightness and sore muscles are to be expected; pain is not.
5. Be patient with your results. If you are just starting out with your program, two days a week is plenty. Work up to three days a week, and for advanced runners, no more than four to five days of running a week. This is also to prevent injury.
6. Rest days are critical to a training plan, and are in fact just as important as the exercise days.
Posture: run or jog in an upright position, not slumped over or leaning, with arms relaxed by the hip bones, allowing them to swing naturally. Keep your head up and look toward the horizon, not down at the feet.
Balance: balance your body weight between both feet, not striding out in front which can cause you to land on your heel, creating an unbalanced body position. Think of flat feet as more like a shuffle.
Cadence: this is the number of times your feet hit the ground per minute. Focus on quick steps, around 90 steps on each foot per minute. We recommend you download a metronome and set it at 90.
Breathing: this should be as natural as possible and as full as possible. Try to avoid quick breaths in and out of your mouth. Work towards breathing in through the nose, out through the nose or mouth. Try out breathing in for four steps and out for four steps, and see how that feels. Adjust if needed.
We recommend finding a walk/run sequence that is comfortable for you and being consistent with it. If you are a new runner, try 30 seconds of jogging followed by 4 minutes of walking, then repeat that for 30 minutes. After doing that for 3-6 runs (about 2 weeks), try increasing to 1 minute followed by 3 minutes of walking for 30 minutes. This method was made well-known by former Olympic athlete Jeff Galloway. I have used his method for many years now and still prefer it over straight running. It allows time to regroup during the walk breaks and think about my form. It also keeps the heart rate from going anaerobic.
WHAT TO WEAR
- Properly fitted run shoes
- Sports bra
- Gloves (if 50 degrees or below)
- Headband or hat
- Windbreaker (if 50 degrees or below)
SUPPORT YOUR GIRLS
Sports bras are the most neglected part of women’s apparel. 80% of women are in the wrong bra size. Sports bras are designed to provide support while minimizing breast movement.
Signs your bra size is incorrect:
- Too big if the bra pulls up in the back or if there is extra space under the cup.
- Too small if extra flesh is poking out towards the armpit or the bra is making a mark on your shoulders.
Look for fabrics such as: lycra spandex or coolmax polyester.
A sports bra needs to be replaced once a year or as you start to notice a looser fit or increased breast movement.
WALKING AND RUNNING SHOES
1. Have your foot measured and your arch and gait analyzed by an experienced run store.
2. Size up a full size from what you measure because of the way they are designed, and also because your feet swell when you exercise.
3. If you have arch pain or heel pain, you need an insole. If you already have custom insoles, bring them with you to the store.
4. Bring the socks you will walk/run in for trying on shoes.
5. Lace shoes every time you put on your shoes, lace down to prevent blisters.
6. You can walk in a running shoe, but you do not need to run in a walking shoe.
CLOTHING AND SOCKS
- Look for fabrics such as cool-max, polyester, spandex, and merino wool.
- Cotton holds moisture which can cause blistering on the feet or chafing on the body.
- Body glide or anti-chafe cream for thighs and feet
- Water bottle or water belt
It is preferred to run on a designated pedestrian/bike path however, many people like to run in their neighborhood. If you do so, remember to ALWAYS run facing traffic on the left side of the road and NEVER run with cars coming from behind. You do have rights on the road but most drivers are not expecting to see you on the road, especially if they are distracted by cell phones or children. Cycling is the opposite. You bike ride with the flow of traffic because you are considered a vehicle.
Always wear clothing that can be seen, especially at dusk and dawn. White is not reflective. The brighter the color the better or wear a reflective vest or safety lights if you’re running at dark. Don’t assume car lights will make you visible. You will see a car before they see you, so move over to the side of the road or in the grass and let them pass.