Running: Knowing the Basics Goes a Long Way
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
People of almost any age can run for exercise. It can be done almost anywhere, doesn't cost much, and you don't have to be an elite athlete to do it. Still, there are some basic tips you should know to keep your running safe and injury free.
Your running shoes do not have to be fancy or cost a lot of money. But they should fit well, be comfortable, and support your feet. If you run on trails, you will want to buy shoes for trail running to grip the terrain and protect your feet.
Find a local running store that does gait analysis to help you pick your shoes. You will be asked to try on many types of running shoes. The staff will watch how you run in these shoes to find out which ones will give you the best support for your running style.
Expect to replace your shoes every 3 to 6 months or 350 to 500 miles (563 to 805 kilometers). The ability of the shoes to absorb shock start to decline at that point. Sore legs may also be the first sign that you should replace your sneakers.
Safety needs to be part of your routine no matter where you run. All runners should follow these basic safety rules:
Common running injuries can be avoided by taking simple steps.
Treating Injuries When they Happen
You'll likely have a running injury even if you are careful. You will need to treat it quickly and properly.
Ice tight or painful areas. Apply ice wrapped in a towel for 15 to 20 minutes. Do this many times per day. You will also need to rest your injury to avoid making it worse.
You can also use anti-inflammatory medicine to ease any swelling. Do not use it to mask pain so you can keep running as this will lead to a more severe injury. You will also need rest.
Come back slowly from an injury. The amount of time it takes for you to get back to your training level will be about the same as the amount of time you took off for your injury.
There may be times when you will run in very cold or hot weather. If you take proper safety steps, it shouldn't slow down your running.
Running in extreme heat may lead to heat exhaustion, which is severe dehydration. It can also cause heat stroke, which is a failure of the body to regulate its temperature. This can cause damage to your organs. Follow these steps to lower these risk:
Running in cold, wintry weather can lead to injury from slips and falls, strains or pulls, and frostbite. Follow these steps to lower the risk:
Lastly, before you begin any plan, you should get a check-up with your doctor.
American Council on Exercise
American Society of Exercise Physiologists
Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology
Dumont S. Medical aspects of running and running-related injuries. Lehigh University website. Available at:
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Accessed October 8, 2021.
Exercising in hot and cold environments. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/exercising-hot-cold-environments.pdf?sfvrsn=1b06c972_4. Accessed October 8, 2021.
Run safe in cold weather. Road Runners Club of America website. Available at: https://www.rrca.org/education/for-runners/cold-weather-running. Accessed October 8, 2021.
Run safe in hot weather. Road Runners Club of America website. Available at: https://www.rrca.org/education/for-runners/hot-weather-running. Accessed October 8, 2021.
Runner safety tips. Road Runners Club of America website. Available at: https://www.rrca.org/education/for-runners/runner-safety-tips. Accessed October 8, 2021.
Tips for a safe running program. American Academy of Othropaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/staying-healthy/tips-for-a-safe-running-program. Accessed October 8, 2021.
Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 10/8/2021
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