Whether you're hitting the track for the first time or getting back into running, there are several things you can do to make sure you stay in tip-top running shame. Sam Quigle of Fleet Feet Tacoma knows a thing or two about helping runners, both beginners and experts, so we asked for her advice.
TIP #1: Go Slow
"You need to be patient," Quigle says. "Running is a process. And it's a slow one at that. So being patient with yourself. There's going to be good days, there's going to be bad days. So just taking one run at a time and getting out there."
Quigle recommends starting out slow and short on your runs - don't run too fast, and try not to increase your mileage too quickly. As in, don't go from one mile to five miles in the same week.
And if your pace is already pretty slow? Go slower. It doesn't matter how fast you run - what matters is getting out there.
"Some people will distinguish the difference between jogging and running," Quigle says. "It's all the same. You are moving forward. However slow, fast. You are going."
TIP #2: Use a Walk-Run Program
Quigle recommends using a training program called a walk-run program, something that instructs users to alternate between running and walking during an exercise. Fleet Feet Tacoma, for instance, has their Ignite Program.
"We gradually increase weekly over the eight weeks. And the injury free rate is very, very good."
TIP #3: Invest in Quality Shoes
Finding the right pair of shoes is also key, as it's essentially the whole foundation of your running experience.
At Fleet Feet Tacoma, they can your feet and analyze your gait to help you find the brand that fits you best. Quality socks and insoles (if you need them) make for a solid run, too.
"If your feet are happy, a lot of times the rest of your body is happy," Quigle says.
TIP #4: Warm Up and Cool Down
Once you're gotten into a running routine, it's important to warm up and cool down after every run. That means a brisk walk or stretching. Adding some strength training to your workout routine, especially leg strength training, can also do wonders to help keep you injury-free.
"That is the foundation to help keep you injury-free," Quigle says.
And Quigle's number one tip?
"I would say don't compare yourself to other runners," she says. "This is an individual activity that you're doing for yourself. Be kind to yourself and celebrate the small victories."