Running rules: What’s important for beginners
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Emilee Boster
As the weather in Alabama gets warmer, many people are heading outside instead of staying stuck indoors. While some people choose to spend their mornings sitting on the porch or days by the pool or in the stands of sporting events, others are choosing to take up running.
Runners say they often find the exercise just as relaxing as it is physically engaging. According to The Manuel, running has both psychological and physical benefits such as improving mood, reducing stress and building muscle strength.
Starting to run, however, can be a daunting task. Here are a few things to keep in mind when hitting the trail or the treadmill.
1. Choose the right shoe
Wearing proper foot attire is essential for running recovery and progress, but each runner has different feet with different shoe support needs. Walking into a department shoe store may be overwhelming, and although many people choose a shoe based on the color or feel, those characteristics are not the most important aspect of a proper running shoe.
Local shoe store Wagner’s RunWalk has employees available so patrons can pick the shoe that best works for their feet. In fact, the business as a foot scanner that creates a 3D visual of your feet while standing and walking. The device details how your feet are arched and how you distribute your weight when you walk in addition to the basic length and width information. Need extra support? There are insoles for that.
And shoppers can test out their potential picks on the in-store treadmill before dropping cash.
While the shoes are the most important part, proper socks can make or break the experience. Nowadays there are a lot more choices available than a 20-pack of white cotton crew-cuts, including anti-blister, sweat-wicking or cushioned.
2. Stay hydrated
As the sun heats up and humidity returns in Alabama, runners should make sure they’re drinking enough water, especially during midday runs.
You’ll sweat a lot more out in the sunshine than in the shade or indoors, so drinking water is imperative. If you’re going for a short run, drink plenty before and after, but consider taking a water bottle no matter how far your workout takes you.
Runners may find it easier to run in the early mornings or afternoons when the sun has set. In West Alabama, the sun is currently rising around 6:45 a.m. and setting around 7 p.m.
3. Stretch it out
Before beginning a run (or any physical activity), make sure you warm up with a good stretching session.
According to Yale Medicine, all runners, no matter how experienced or inexperienced, should warm up and stretch before a run. They encourage runners to partake in dynamic stretching, which includes movements such as lunges, bent-knee kicks and straight-leg lateral swings.
4. Safety first
The most important aspect of outdoor running is safety. This may mean running in a familiar and popular place or running with a group.
Tuscaloosa has plenty of running groups and clubs locals can join. The Tuscaloosa Track Club hosts various runs throughout each month. They partner with Wagner’s each Tuesday for a 5:30 p.m. 3 to 4-mile sunset run at Sokol Park.
Joining a running group can be helpful not only because there’s safety in numbers, but also for the encouragement and assistance.
Tammy Denson, the community manager for Wagner’s RunWalk and an avid runner, has participated in over 17 marathons. She said she encourages anyone interested in running to join a running group, whether that be with Wagner’s or with another Tuscaloosa group.
“We always want the new people to come and join us on any of our runs,” she said. “They’re all good because there’s all types of runners. You’re going to have a lot of newbies that come to run, but you’re also going to have some that have been running for years and years and can actually help those newbies.”
Tuscaloosa has plenty of dedicated running trails like the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk, Sokol Park trails or even the sidewalks throughout the University of Alabama campus.
“Tuscaloosa is great for runners because we have so many areas to run,” said Denson.
If you can’t run, walking is a less intense exercise but equally rewarding.
For a mix of social and exercise time, the UA Walking Club meets at Manderson Landing at the River Walk each Sunday at 2 p.m. The group walks through the trails beside the river talking to friends and making new ones. Sometimes the club hosts themed walks like Hometown and Jersey Day.
Many of these running rules also apply to walking. Stay hydrated. Walk with groups. And most importantly, have fun outdoors in Tuscaloosa.
Upcoming Running Events in West Alabama:
- Hospice of West Alabama 5K
- April 8
- Not Another 5K 5K
- April 15
- The Phoenix Trail Fest
- April 22
- The Tuscaloosa Mayor’s Cup 5K
- April 29