Today is National Running Day. And while this is not a “Hallmark holiday” and does not meet the U.S. government’s standards to give the nation off, it is a day where we get together to celebrate what we love to do…run. And whether you are tall or short, old or young, fast or slow, a veteran or a newcomer to this sport, this skill, this way of life…the need to run is a common thread that is woven through us all. Some just have more threads than others.
If you have never run a day in your life and you want National Running Day 2014 to be the start of your running journey, then I applaud you and want to help you embrace the challenge.
Here are five items that I think every beginning runner should invest in to make their running experience more enjoyable and comfortable.
Good fitting shoes – Go to a specialty running store near you and get the footwear specialists to get you the proper fit on a new pair of treads. Having a comfortable pair of shoes can make or break your running experience.
Comfortable socks – A snug, yet not too tight pair of breathable socks can make a difference between a dream run and disaster. The socks should not slip around, but should also allow your feet to spread with each foot strike. And they should have good moisture-management qualities to keep you feet dry and cool. Moisture, heat, and friction are great ingredients for blisters.
Anti-chafe balm – There are many wonderful products on the market that reduce or eliminate the body’s ability to chafe. Again, moisture, heat, and friction are great ingredients for blisters – keep them away. There are deodorant-like applicators that administer wax, powders, or liquids that claim to keep skin irritation at bay. Let’s just say these items are like the American Express card…never leave home without them.
Protective headwear – No this is not because running is a violent sport where the head is used as an implement and we need impact protection, but there are inherent risks to the sport due to the environment in which we run. Sun exposure can put a runner at great risk of skin cancer and detrimental eye conditions if they run unprotected and outside during daylight hours. A breathable, lightweight hat is a great investment for the part of our body closest to the sun. Plus, it is a great billboard for your favorite running shop.
Self-massage tools – This may seem like something that only the elite athletes need to do, but daily use of a foam roller and massage ball can keep you running for a long time to come. Daily “tissue flossing” to break up any adhesions (sticky points within the muscle) that have naturally developed due to exercise and can allow our muscle fibers to flow by each other very smoothly and not get bound down in an un-uniform way like in a bird’s nest. Even five minutes a day of moderately deep trigger point work can be helpful to healthy, running longevity. My friend, Jay Dicharry, told me once at a running conference that “each endurance athlete that is born should be handed a lacrosse ball (massage ball) and a foam roller when they leave the hospital”. I have to agree Jay.
While running is a fairly easy sport to take up, there are definitely some things that can make your experience even more enhanced. So on this National Running Day, get out there and put one foot in front of the other (just be sure not to overstride) and get moving. This is a wonderful sport that has given me many memorable experiences and better clarity of mind.
So why do you run?