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Although the main attraction of running is its simplicity, there is a lot of mystery about when to run, how to run, what to eat and when to stretch.

The quality of the advice given to beginners to running will ultimately determine the success or failure of most new runners. So I’ll share some of what I’ve learned over the years from one of my favorite coaches, who I’ll call ‘Coach R’ in this article.

How do I know if I’m running correctly?

Coach R: Running isn’t that hard for most people. It’s a natural thing. If injuries often come, it could be related to a bad posture, which often has to do with the wrong shoes, inflexible muscles, etc. The best thing is to have an experienced coach assess your technique.

Keep in mind that running style is also an individual thing. I know a guy with a terrible technique, but he is a former Olympic runner from Canada and world class cross country runner.

Is it important to stretch before or after I warm up?

Coach R: I believe it is most important after the run, and never stretch at all before you are warmed up.

Should I change what and how I eat now that I’ve started running?

Coach R: It all depends on how you currently eat. Stick with good variety – protein, carbs, fruit, vegetables, etc – runner don’t need a special diet, just regular food, in adequate amounts.

What 5 commandments would you give to anyone who is a beginner to running?

Coach R:

  1. Don’t get injured.
  2. Run with others.
  3. Don’t give up.
  4. Don’t worry about speed and how fast other runners are.
  5. Stick with it, and it WILL get easier.

What’s the difference between running on a treadmill and running outdoors?

Coach R: Treadmills are easier. A 1% incline or more should be used with a treadmill. Since the belt is moving towards you, it will never be the same as running outdoors. However, it’s a very useful method of training when the outside conditions are poor.

How do I get rid of a side stitch?

Coach R: Try grabbing a rock and squeeze it. Slow down, walk for a bit, and slowly start running when the stitch loosens up. The more running you do, the less likely you are to get side stitches.

Should I eat before I run?

Coach R: It’s also individual. For most people, running 2-3 hours after a meal works well. I can personally run 10 minutes after I eat supper, if I have to, but not everyone is like that. If you are starving before a run, have a simple snack, like a banana or a piece of bread with peanut butter.

As I said before, the beauty of running lies in its simplicity and the mystery lies only in how running changes every runner’s life. Ultimately, the same principles apply to running as to any other sport, taking it step by step, looking after your body and following the right advice.