There is no one right way to start a running program, says Metzl. Some people find they can start off by running 3 miles and not feel like collapsing at the end. Others are winded after just a mile. The best advice is to go gradually. That means running every other day and never increasing your distance by more than 10% from one week to the next. If you have any doubts, check with your doctor first.
New runners who overdo it often suffer shin splints--caused by too much stress on the leg bones and muscles. Shin splints often involve pain in the shins while running. People with pronated feet (shaped like "falling arches") are most likely to develop shin splints because their arches tend to roll while running.
To prevent shin splints, Metzl recommends getting arch support, or "orthotics," for your shoes. Make sure they are very rigid and prevent your arch from rolling. Arch supports, which are available at many shoe stores, should go on the bottom of the sneaker.
Wearing the right shoe is also important in preventing injuries. Running shoe technology has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. There are now shoes for all different types of runners. One New Balance running shoe has an orthotic built-in, which makes it ideal for people with pronated feet. One of Nike's shoes has maximum padding and is great for runners with arthritis. It is not good for people with pronated feet. One Asics model shoe is for racers. It is light--almost like running barefoot--and good for sprinters.
Outside of the proper running gear, a good mental outlook is also important, says Metzl. "Having a positive attitude can make all the difference in the world! It can make the difference between someone who is having fun and someone who dreads exercise," he says.
New runners are encouraged to join a group or running club.
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