What's so great about running?  Trying it out is part of learning why it's so popular.  Running relieves stress, increases your strength and energy and improves efficiency of your heart (just to name a few benefits).  If you have decided to start running, there are key precautions to take that can save you pain and time off of exercise.  The more prepared you are when you start, the more likely you'll begin to love it as much as many others do!  Some people begin running very casually with only intending to run alone on the prairie path every now and then, while others get pumped up about a particular event (an upcoming 5k, 10k...marathon?).  No matter what your intentions are, don't neglect your feet when starting a new running program!

Some simple things to keep in mind are:

1) Warm Up: Walking a few blocks and stretching before you start running helps to loosen up tight tissue in the body, making it better able to absorb the energy from the ground while running.  

2) Start slow: While the excitement of beginning a new exercise (running or otherwise) can make you feel that if you don't 'commit' and go full out at first that you won't succeed - the opposite is actually more true.  If you decide to run for the first time, running every single day and starting with 3 or 4 miles is a lot to demand of your body - no matter your age!  It is best to have a day of rest in between and start at a comfortable pace and 2 miles or less.  Not only does this help your cardiovascular system to adjust to its new requirements, but it also allows your bones, tendons and ligaments to rest and build up slowly to prevent stress fractures, tendinitis and fasciitis.

3) Recover: Resting every other day or alternating activities each day helps the muscles used to recover.  Another important component of your recovery is having a post-run snack and drink plenty of water.  While previous trends focused on eating mass amounts of proteins or having protein shakes after a workout, it's actually very important to include carbohydrates in your post-run snack - so don't forget your carbs!

4) Shoes:  Yes, shoes - wearing them for starters.  When you are demanding more of your body, the tendons and bones need time to adapt to the wear and tear.  Starting a running program barefoot or in minimalist shoes is usually a recipe or disaster.  This increases your risk of not only tendinitis, but also stress fractures.  In addition, there are very few foot types that are actually able to withstand the pounding of barefoot or minimalist shoe running.  The pavement of today's world doesn't provide any shock absorption, so your foot takes quite a beating.  Running in grass can't be considered the answer, however, because there is always a risk of sticks, glass or other foreign bodies damaging the skin and also divots within the lawn that can cause a twisted ankle or (worse) a broken bone.  Look here for guidance on shoes.

5) Diet: I don't mean Atkin's or slim fast or liquid diets.  Quite the opposite - don't starve yourself!  Don't be surprised if when you start you new routine if you have an increased appetite - your body is using more calories now and sometimes that means eating more.  Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, proteins, fats and carbohydrates.  Avoiding the processed foods is important to minimize your salt intake and also helps your hunger to be satisfied.

For TONS more information about running, including FAQ's and blogs, click here!  Stay safe and best of luck to you on your new adventure!