Running is a valuable way to condition for any sport, especially field hockey which requires explosive power, speed, and endurance. When compared to a sport with many rules, positions, and mandatory equipment running seems pretty simple. Anyone who has tried to dive into running will tell you though, it is harder and more intricate than it looks. Realizing this can make running a bit intimidating, but it does not have to be! These tips will help you approach running with your best foot forward.
The best tips for a beginner runner are:
- Make running a habit before worrying about PRs.
- Be aware of how to run safely.
- Find the gear that makes you most comfortable.
- Stay focused on your own performance.
- Choose how you challenge yourself.
If you are an athlete, you already have an advantage when you begin running. Especially coming from field hockey, you will have more cardiovascular endurance and strength than someone who starts running from no other regular exercise. Still, even for an athlete, implementing regular running is no easy goal. These tips will help you dodge common pitfalls and get on track to becoming a better runner and overall athlete.
5 Tips for a Beginner Runner
Make Running A Habit Before Worrying About PRs
Like any other type of conditioning or practice, consistency is essential to seeing results. You will not make any noticeable improvements in your sport by going for one run. For this reason, making running a habit should be your first goal. It can be tempting to jump into focusing on speed or distance, but for long-term results, forming the habit of running is key, the rest will follow.
It can be helpful to pick one regular time, but if this is not possible for you, look ahead at your week and decide when you will run. Even if you begin by going for walks at that time, running and walking, or running a short distance, just start forming the habit to get out and devote time to running.
Getting a regular running habit down takes some trial and error. You may find the time you planned does not work quite as well as you thought, and so now you can avoid that roadblock in the future. Once running is a regular part of your week, you will be on your way to improving as a runner.
Make Yourself Aware Of How To Run Safely
Especially when you are training in another sport, safety should be a top priority. If you injure yourself running, you can expect to be sitting out for part or all of the field hockey season, which no one wants.
The intricacies of perfect running form, cadence, and other factors that affect safety can be entirely overwhelming as a beginner. As a field hockey player, you may know more than you think though. You likely already understand the importance of an effective warm up and cool down. You will also have a good awareness of your body and when something feels off. Both of which will help you run safely.
As a beginner to running, you will want to start by learning the basics on running form, finding a good warm-up for your runs, and finding a good cool down after runs. Listen to your body as a guide. Adjust your form if you have any unusual pain for discomfort. If the problem persists, consider consulting a coach.
If you injure yourself running, it will hurt your game more than help, so be careful as you are learning.
Find The Gear That Makes You Most Comfortable
When you first start running it can feel extra hard and a bit awkward. Good gear can be the small change that makes all the difference.
You will definitely want a good pair of sneakers to absorb the impact of running and keep you comfortable. Many runners enjoy listening to music or a podcast, and so, earbuds or earphones that stay in place and reach the right volume make a run much more enjoyable. You may find yourself wanting an armband or hip pouch to free up your hands by holding your phone and other belongings.
Anything that makes your run feel a bit more comfortable can help you get out the door and stay out on the road. The right gear is all about minimizing annoyances and distractions to keep you focused on performing your best.
Stay Focused on Your Own Performance
When you begin running it can be very easy to fall into comparing yourself to others, especially those who have been running longer than you. As an athlete, you may feel even more pressure to already be an above-average runner.
By putting to much pressure on yourself and expecting improvements too quickly you can easily get discouraged. Rather, focus on what you are capable of, what your goals are, and all the progress along the way. These are the only things that are productive for your running.
It does not hurt to look up to better runners, but when other runners make you feel poorly instead of inspired, you may be falling into the comparison trap.
Choose How You Will Challenge Yourself
A common mistake made by new runners is trying to tackle all areas of running all at once. This looks like trying to make each runner longer and faster. Not only will this lead to you bent over and gasping for air in a few short minutes, but can put you at risk for injury.
Focusing on either speed or distance can make it much easier to improve over time. This means choosing to aim for longer runs at a comfortable pace or choosing a set distance and aiming for shorter times. It can be frustrating to choose at first, but once you get better you will see yourself improve overall. From here you can begin to play around more without being tired out too quickly to get a good workout in.
No matter where you choose to challenge yourself, do it safely. You would not walk in toa weight room and load your barbell on the first day. Think of running just the same. Add distance and push speed progressively to avoid injury.
Do I Have to Walk Before I Can Run?
A common suggestion for new runners is to start with a brisk walk before going for full-out runs.
Starting from walking is great for absolute beginners, as in those new to exercise, but as a field hockey player, you likely have the endurance and strength to start with an easy jog. If this sounds like a lot, you can try alternating periods of running and walking as well. Following this approach, cutting down on walking overtime leads to full out runs.
While most active field hockey players are physically able to bypass walks, it can be a great way to form the habit of running. If consistently getting in runs is hard, you may find it beneficial to start by finding the time for easy walks and transitioning to running overtime. When you have the habit of getting out at a certain time, you will find that getting yourself to run that same trail, track, or road becomes a bit easier.
When implemented safely and consistently running can make any athlete stronger, faster, and able to play with more endurance. With all these benefits, running is also one of the most accessible forms of exercise. Making runs a regular part of your schedule and feeling confident in your running is where it can be hard. Use these tips to get comfortable running and keep up with the healthy habit up. Your performance on the field will certainly thank you.