UPMC Sports Medicine Running Assessment for Beginning Runners

So, you’ve decided it’s time to revisit your New Year’s resolution and start a running routine. That’s great! Running is a good way to improve cardiovascular health, build muscle, and lose weight. It can even elevate your mood and help you deal with stress.

But if you aren’t familiar with the basics of running safety, you could risk getting injured. Take the time to review these running tips for beginners before you hit the treadmill or the pavement. Being prepared is the best way to stay safe and avoid injuries.

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Before You Start: Choose the Right Running Shoes

Most experts agree that wearing proper running shoes is the most important aspect of running safety. The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine offers these suggestions to help you find a good pair:

  • Visit a trusted shoe store and talk to a running shoe expert who can help you identify the best shoe type for your feet.
  • Examine each shoe’s stability and cushion. Good stability helps prevent overpronation, and more cushion can increase shock absorption and possibly help with knee, calf, and shin injuries.
  • Always try on both the right and left shoes. Ask a salesperson if you can jog around the store or on the sidewalk — it’s the only way you’ll know if the fit is right for your running style.
  • If you feel pinching or rubbing in any area, try a different shoe.
  • Don’t wait until the soles are completely worn down before buying a new pair; running in shoes without proper cushioning or structure increases your risk for injury.
  • If you find a perfect pair, buy multiples of them. Manufacturers change and discontinue shoes all the time.

General Tips for Beginner Runners

Physicians at UPMC Sports Medicine recommend these tips for beginner runners:

  • Do a slow warmup of at least 10 minutes before your run.
  • Don’t underestimate small injuries. Get in the habit of icing, which restricts blood flow, helping to decrease inflammation and pain.
  • Take days off to cross train and exercise other parts of your body. Don’t run every day.
  • Let your body adjust to running, and build up your ability to run distances gradually. Don’t try to run too much, too soon.
  • Don’t run through pain. Take days off from running to ensure you don’t face a more serious injury down the line.
  • Stay hydrated, regardless of the temperature where you’re running.

Finding Your Pace: Developing Your Running Routine

As you find a running routine, remember to listen to your body — and don’t overexert yourself. Keep the following in mind while you ramp up your running practice:

  • Stretch it out: Keeping your body flexible can help prevent injuries. Stretch before you run to condition and warm up your muscles. (We recommend dynamic warmups that combine movement and stretching.) Stretch after running, too, to prevent stiffness and soreness.
  • Slow and steady: Beginners should run at a manageable pace. Run until you feel tired, then slow to a fast walk. Run again when you feel ready. As you start to run more regularly, you’ll feel the need to walk decrease — a sign you’re building strength and endurance.
  • The 10 percent rule: Increase your running volume or intensity by no more than 10 percent each week. For example, if you run a total of 10 miles this week, you should run no more than about 11 miles next week, at the same pace and intensity.

Once you’re familiar with the basics, enjoy the fun of running! Find a friend who can be your running buddy, create a running playlist, or explore running trails in your area.

Our doctors and athletic trainers are here to provide you with more running tips for beginners, to help you develop a running plan, and to address injuries. Visit UPMC Sports Medicine or call 1-855-93-77678 to make an appointment.

About Sports Medicine

An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.