So you've decided to start jogging for the first time – congratulations! Jogging is an excellent way of boosting your mood, increasing your movement and keeping your weight under control.
But before you load up a running playlist on your phone and bolt out the door, first take some advice gleaned from jogging experts that may help you start on the right foot.
Here's how to avoid the common rookie mistakes people make when picking up jogging for the first time.
Let out the doubt
“New joggers usually worry about how they compare to other people, and how they might look and be perceived,” says Heather Gardner, founder of Toronto’s Tribe Fitness. She advises to come to the experience of jogging “from a place that is personal versus worrying about others and what others think.”
Remember, feeling self-conscious is normal when starting a new activity, but it shouldn’t hold you back from becoming the best person you can be.
“Once upon a time, if someone would have said: ‘Luis you will be a runner in the future’, I would have literally laughed in their face. I never pictured myself to be a runner,” says Luis Cabrera, a runner of 10 years, who is now a Nike Ambassador. “I always had this idea in my head that runners were these fit people that had been running all their life. I was wrong! Runners come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen older people come out for the first time and seeing that motivates me.”
Don't over-do it
New joggers tend to go all out, too soon. But pushing past the point of exhaustion and racking up too many kilometres can lead to injury and setbacks.
“By jumping into it without stretching and warming up properly, joggers risk injury or they can be very sore afterwards and so they won’t be able to run again for that week,” says Colin Matchim, head coach of Ajax Boxing Club, which will hinder their progress. Adopting a pre-workout warmup and stretch, followed by a post-workout stretch, is a good way to combat injuries from occurring.
Fuel your body
Also dangerous to a new jogger? Not eating or drinking enough. “A lot of people don’t realize the importance of proper nourishment and hydration before the start of run and quickly find out why it's a bad idea not to be prepared,” says Matchim. “Stay hydrated throughout the day before you run and make sure you eat properly -- but not within 45 minutes of your jog.”
Use the right shoes
New joggers can also suffer from repeat use injury, like shin splints, if they are not wearing the appropriate gear. “Many people are worried about sore knees and hips when jogging,” says Garner. “But with the proper program and attire, like running shoes, those injuries don’t generally happen.” So, go ahead and splurge on those new sneakers – it will be well worth it!
Have a plan and stick to it
Without a plan in place, many new joggers might begin to feel overwhelmed. Whether you are starting on a treadmill, a trail, or on the road, it’s important to find a route that feels comfortable for you, and to stick with it.
Gardner recommends finding a plan online from a reliable resource, or joining a class like the Learn to Run program at Tribe Fitness, a run/walk progression that requires no past running experience. “It is all about breaking it down into small accessible pieces,” she says. “So the program is broken down into small jog and walk chunks. You jog for one minute and walk for two minutes. The time slowly changes and the increments slowly morph throughout the program between jogging and walking. It is finding a program for the beginner jogger and giving them something that they can follow along.”
For those who are going it alone, Matchim suggests picking a route and timing yourself. “Setting goals within the route is always a good idea,” he says. “Jog to a pre-set landmark before you stop, and then on the day, you jog to another landmark. Improving your time is another measurable method of tracking your improvement.” For example, see how it long it takes you to jog around the block one week, and compare it to your time for the next week.
Don't go it alone
A great way to keep motivated with your new routine is finding a jogging buddy.
“When you know your friend is waiting for you in the park or on the corner, you won’t stand them up. You are going to go,” says Gardner, who recommends finding friends who have similar fitness goals. “The people who you are surrounded with impact what you do, including fitness and hobbies. I think finding like-minded people in your community who want to do what you want to do is key.” She suggests beginner joggers connect with others by joining a running program or finding a coach. Gardner also says that posting your fitness goals on social media, like Facebook or Connect is another way to stay accountable. “Post something like, ‘Hey, I just started this new jogging program. Ask me how it is going!’ Because people will ask you how it is going. Enrolling people will keep you accountable to your goals.”
Jogging can be a great addition to your fitness routine, or a terrific start of your new healthier you. Like everything else in life, you need to commit to it in order to be successful,” says Cabrera. “Jogging is one of those things that takes work and dedication.”