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How to Start Running Today: A Beginner’s Guide

As simple as running may seem, there’s more to it than putting one foot in front of the other.  Running is a highly demanding activity on the body— it isn’t easy!  With that being said, there are a lot of health benefits to running and with no extra equipment needed it’s a great way to get outdoors and to get active.  
If you’re looking to take your first step into the world of running, experienced runner, Johanna Diamond, PT, DPT, Cert. DN shares some quick tips for beginners.

1) Get running-specific shoes.

Look for the terminology “running” in the title or description of the shoe. You can find various brands online or in sporting goods stores, but physically trying them on and breaking them in first is highly recommended. If you have access to a specialty running store, they can even help fit you for the best shoe for your foot and stride.

2) Dress appropriately.

Dress in layers depending on the weather. Try to wear moisture-wicking fabrics, not cotton, which will hold sweat and weigh you down. Dress so that you will be comfortable but not overheat. Generally, you will wear fewer layers for a run compared to walking in the same temperature.

3) Start small.

If you have never run before, start with small goals and listen to your body. Aim for 1-2 miles at first, and if needed, split that up into run/walk intervals.

4) Monitor your effort.

Let your body get used to running at an easy pace, where you feel like you could hold a conversation comfortably. It may not be fast, but running will feel easier the more you do it, and your “easy” pace will get faster naturally over time.

5) Fuel properly.

Make sure you have eaten enough and drank enough water prior to running (but stick to only small, light snacks in the hour or two leading up to the run). After a run, make sure you rehydrate and eat another snack or meal shortly afterward to replenish carbs and proteins.
“Running isn’t bad for you; bad running is bad for you!”

If you have any questions or run into any problems, reach out to one of our physical therapists for help!  For more resources on running check out our other running-related blog posts as well as our running-related YouTube videos.

About the author:

React PT’s Johanna Diamond, PT, DPT, Cert. DN is an experienced runner.  Her love for running started when she joined her high school’s cross country team. Diamond’s journey of running started with a dramatic debut when her first JV cross country meet ended in a hip injury that put her on crutches for a week and out doing pool workouts for the rest of the season.  Luckily, she was able to return to complete the track season and continued to run competitively for all four years. Diamond compiled her love of running by working at a specialty running store in town, learning all about shoes, and learning words such as “pronation” and “supination” for the first time. At U of I for college, she continued to compete around the country with the quickly-growing Illinois track and cross country club teamsDuring PT school at UIC, she trained for and ran her first marathon. Since then, she’s been doing road races of all distances, running with the Heartbreakers team since the summer of 2019, and loving the Chicago running community as a whole! 

Her high school hip injury was not the last of my running pains; she has battled to prevent and recover from injuries throughout her running career. As a physical therapist, one of the most rewarding feelings she experiences is helping other runners to get back to running and feel good while doing it.
Johanna DiamondJohanna Diamond

Johanna Diamond

Jo is dedicated to making lasting changes to the body which will not only rehabilitate injuries but prevent future injury in order to maximize each patient’s potential, whether this means being in top shape for athletic performance or simply living pain-free.

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