Don't overtrain, take rest days: 5 things all new runners should know
As marathon season is now getting underway, more and more people who have not so far been involved in running are choosing to take up the sport. We spoke to longtime marathoner and running expert TimTim Sharma, who had words of wisdom for those new to running, or looking to take up the sport.
#1 Start slowly
In the initial days of picking up running, you will have a lot of enthusiasm. Don’t push it, however. Start off slow. Your body is not used to the strenuous exercise yet, and pushing your limits right off the bat can and will likely result in injuries, which will take a long time to heal and hamper your progress too.
#2 Follow the incremental rule
You must start slowly. But for ideal progress and optimal results, increase your exercise slowly too. This could be as simple as running that ‘little bit extra’ after every week or two, or when you feel like your stamina has improved and you want to challenge it.
As you up the ante, however, do not increase it by more than 10% each week as this will wreak havoc on your muscles and bones, and overstraining them will have an effect on your stamina as well as potentially giving you problems later in life.
#3 Rest days are essential
As essential as it is to keep fit and healthy, it is just as important to allow your body time to rest and recover. It is not a machine, and muscles that are strained need to be rested so they can recover. This is especially true for new runners, as their muscles are not yet used to the rigours of strenuous exercise.
For muscle to build, it is essential they get rest after they are worked out, and this is why rest day is one of the most important, essential things in any athlete or fitness enthusiast’s routine.
#4 Mixed exercise is important
Running is one of the best forms of cardio-vascular exercise. However, focussing only on running will not only hamper all-round fitness, it will take the emphasis away from building endurance, strength and muscle for the rest of the body.
Running, says our expert, should be combined with crossfit, resistance exercises and weightlifting. Not all runners may have access to weights, so resistance bands and free and body-weight exercises could be substituted instead in order to ensure well-rounded fitness.
#5 Set realistic goals
This is one of the most important parts of fitness, says our expert. Many people take up running with a specific level of fitness, target or weight in mind. While there is nothing wrong with this, these goals should be realistic, she says. People expect drastic weight loss or improvements in fitness levels in a very short span of time.
As a result, people will also often over-exert their bodies, causing perilous injury, or go on crash diets which are incredibly harmful for the body, often depriving it of essential nutrition.
For those looking to lose weight, says Ms. Sharma, set smaller goals instead of drastic, large ones that it is difficult, unrealistic or unhealthy to achieve.