Runners always seem like they’re on top of the world—powering through the streets with strength, agility, and grace. It’s a thing of beauty, really. It’s also incredibly intimidating for those of us who’ve spent more time sitting on the pavement than pounding it. But spring has sprung, your New Year’s resolutions have probably fizzled (guilty), and swimsuit season is only a few short months away—basically it’s the perfect time to tap into your inner track star.
To help you get started, we talked to celeb trainer Patrick Murphy—he’s worked with everyone from Jennifer Lawrence to Olivia Wilde. Murphy assured us that not only is running a “super-mood booster,” but it’s also one of the most efficient calorie-burners you can find. Sold! “The downside? If you aren’t properly prepared with the correct mechanics and gear, running can be quite unforgiving on the body,” Murphy says. To make sure you start off on the right foot, Murphy shared his five most important tips for novice runners. “Some might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many beginners overlook these simple steps,” he says.
Scroll through to see what they are!
This probably comes as no surprise, but the gym shoes you’ve had since college aren’t going to cut it. “Do you have neutral feet? Do your feet pronate? If you have no idea, you could have a serious problem after only a few miles,” Murphy says. Before you embark on your first run, visit a legitimate running shoe store to get fitted with the proper shoes for your feet. (You don’t even need to buy from the store—as long as you figure out what you need, you can probably find a deal online.) “Running is a repetitive activity, so if you don’t have support in all of the right places with every foot strike, you could end up in pain or with an injury like plantar fasciitis (aka jogger’s heel).”
“Befriending like-minded individuals will keep you motivated and consistent, and willing to go the extra mile,” Murphy says. “Finding a partner with a little more experience would elevate your game sooner, but a partner at your same level can also be beneficial with motivation and consistency.” If your friend group is coming up dry, check the class schedule at your gym. A lot of gyms offer treadmill classes now—which means you’ll get accountability and expert guidance.
Murphy recommends adding a resistance-training program that involves balance, endurance, and strength. Whatever you choose to do, skip the seated machines at the gym and preform your exercises in a standing position instead. “Injury prevention is key as you embark on a consistent running program. One of the best exercises, especially for runners is the 100-ups—it really works, I've used this technique myself,” Murphy says.
You may know 100-ups as “high knees.” It’s just as straightforward as it sounds. Do 100 high knees, alternating legs the entire time. The first 50 are slow, and then you do the last 50 double-time. Just make sure your heels never hit the ground. The 100-ups is essentially an exaggerated running form that builds strength and endurance in your hip flexors and quads.
Be patient with your running progression. “I have newbie runners perform jog/walk intervals for three miles until we eventually eliminate the walk,” Murphy says. “Trying to accomplish too much (going too fast or for too many miles) straight out of the gate can result in an injury setback.”
Don’t try to run on empty stomach. “I suggest eating a whole fruit before a run, like an orange or an apple. They’re only about 60 calories, easy to digest, and will give you a nice boost to your performance,” Murphy says. Lean proteins, good carbohydrates, and anything low in fat will also do the trick. “Avoid high fat foods right before a run, since fats take longest to digest.” The same is true for after a run. “Listen to your body and learn what foods and beverages work best for you,” says Murphy. Finding the right pre- and post-run meals could be the difference between a good run and a bad one.
How confident of a runner are you? What else do you want to know? Tell us in the comments below!