Guide to running as a beginner

At the height of a run, the feelings of calm and exhilaration allow you to recharge and release any negative thoughts after a long, stressful day.

The early state of the pandemic left many eager to pick up a new hobby to get outside and release the feelings of uncertainty and stress they were facing that day and replace it with a more empowering feeling. Running is an easy outlet that requires minimal equipment and the energy to get outdoors.

As a runner, it’s important to consider the physical toll it can have on your body due to the amount of pressure you’re putting on your muscles and joints,

Kristen Neisler, a clinical faculty member at DePaul in the exercise science and physical education department, says “it’s good to take a day off in-between cardio days, to see how your body responds.”

“Prevention is key,” Neisler said. “Practicing dynamic warm-ups, stretching with movements and listening to your body can be very helpful.”

One of the most common running injuries is patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as runner’s knee, which is a result of forcing too much weight and pressure onto your knee. The best way to avoid any injury is to be proactive in stretching before and after your run.

Although running might seem self-explanatory, the process itself isn’t as easy as grabbing your shoes and going out for a run. Preparing yourself and monitoring your health and wellness must serve as a priority.

DePaul junior and experienced runner Marlowe Bangeman addressed the importance of stretching to avoid injury.

“People need to focus more on stretching even though it can often be overlooked,” Bangeman said.

There is so much more value to running than just your speed and distance — it can provide a range of benefits, both physical and mental. It’s important to learn how to effectively take care of yourself and your body to actively avoid any potential injuries.

Similar to any other form of exercise, running comes with a variety of elements that must be considered. For example, choosing the right running gear, fueling your body and taking the time to prepare yourself by stretching out those muscles can go a long way.

Considering the ideal level of comfort, support and flexibility for yourself are important to prevent injury as well as improving your performance.

DePaul alumna Natalie Rohman started running this April as a way to get outside and get moving at the end of a long day.

“Running during the pandemic provided an escapism people needed to feel liberated,” Rohman said. “For me, running is a form of therapy. I wanted to do something good for my body that also makes me feel good.”

One of the many benefits of running is that it has the power to improve your mental health. According to David Linden, a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “once you hit your stride, your body releases hormones called endorphins.”

In popular culture, this feeling can also be described as a “runner’s high,” a sense of euphoria to continue to push through your run even though it can sometimes be short-lived.

“People run because it helps to destress, take your mind off of things and helps you let go of any negative energy,” Bangeman said.

Bangeman’s running experience stems from running on a cross country team from middle to high school, which came with a lot of injuries, both new and recurring.

“I’d say that I experienced those injuries due to the lack of cross-training,” Bangeman said.

While cross-training can show significant benefits to help decrease potential injuries, based on personal experience, Neisler claims that it’s not necessary.

“Doing other activities besides running like strength training or swimming can have an impact,” Neisler said.

“I make sure I’m doing only as much as my body needs and mixing it up by incorporating yoga,” Rohman said.

No matter where your endurance or skill set is, running can be for anyone. Developing an understanding of what your body is capable of, doing your research and listening to your body’s needs can help you in the long run both physically and mentally. You can always start from somewhere.