Running Tips for New Runners in the New Year


Eric Joy, Contributor

For all you in the school that have made running your New Year’s resolution, good for you! You’ve made a great decision. Running is an easy way to stay in shape as it burns a lot of calories and lowers your desire to eat. As with all New Year’s resolutions, they are hard to start and even harder to keep. 

Fortunately for you, Cross Country Coach Bill McIlwain has some pointers for you, and Patriot Pages wants to share his advice with you:

Running is the most misunderstood sport that’s not as hard as many people think it is. It starts with the mindset. One shouldn’t expect to be able to run far or fast on their first try.  Is all about pacing and getting the body used to it.  The mindset  is where it all begins. Don’t think about how far you have to run or if you are able to run as far or fast as someone else. You can only live up to what you have already attained. I cannot stress enough the importance of the mental aspect.  Go easy on yourself and celebrate even the smallest accomplishments, such as completing your first mile or even half mile. Running is more mental than physical. 

Proper gear is important, such as wearing the correct type of shoe. In the beginning, most tennis shoes would be okay as long as they have some arch support and fit properly. As you run longer and faster, it may be best to go to an athletic shoe store to be fitted to reduce the risk of injury. Always stretch before any run/walk, especially stretching the calves and hamstrings. 

Proper diet is good as well.  Water and hydration are paramount to running stamina. Make sure you get plenty of fluids, even in the winter months, but especially in warm or hot weather. Carbohydrates and protein are good sources of energy before a run or workout, but it’s best not to eat right before a workout.  Give your body proper time to digest the nutrients to fuel yourself for the workout.

Start off slow and short as an attainable goal. A track is a good place to begin the process, but any flat surface will suffice. Start off with walking a quarter mile, then try to jog (not run) a quarter mile, or as far as you can. Work up to being able to jog at least a quarter mile without stopping. Then walk another quarter, then high another quarter. This completes one mile of interval training. If a quarter mile is too much at first, reduce it to 1/8th mile or 200 meters. Same process. Walk 200m, jog 200m, etc. As you repeat this process a few times, one will find themselves able to run for a longer distance.  They’ll be able to start running a half mile, walk a quarter, run another half until finally jogging a mile without stopping. Same process goes to longer distances until one is able to jog/run a 5K without stopping.  At that point, if you want to compete in races, you’ll need to work on speed with your endurance. Hill repeats are good to increase strength, speed, and stamina. The key is not to be discouraged if you don’t see your desired results right away. Be patient, as this will help you mentally for the challenge as well as reduce risk of injury.

How much to run a week depends on your running stamina. Start off easy by jogging/running every other day.  As you become stronger and have more endurance, try running a few miles a day, either consecutively or space out the days. At least give yourself one day a week for a rest day to give your body time to recover. 

If you experience soreness, ice compression is good to help relieve the pain. For calf muscle soreness or if you develop shin splints, compression socks are good for support to reduce pain and inflammation.

Finally, as you get stronger and have more endurance, you will hopefully enjoy the exercise and get the “runner’s high”. The key to running is to enjoy the journey as you make it a part of your lifestyle.

There you have it– excellent advice from an expert. If you follow Coach McIlwain’s plan, then you will be a decent runner, and if you stick with it, maybe you can consider joining the Cross Country team next year. Good luck with your resolution and your fitness journey!