— We were born to run. As a species, we’ve always been
runners — chasing down our next meal or high-tailing it to
avoid becoming prey. So why would anyone need a lesson in
something so primal? Turns out there’s a market for learning
how to run. One local gym, Magna Health and Fitness in
downtown Minneapolis, offers a series of classes simply called
Learn to Run. It attracts novices eager to join the legions of
running fans and seasoned racers hoping to avoid injury. We
asked Magna owner Jenny Halstead and the folks at Mill City
Running for tips on how to have your best run and stay
for a role model for good running posture? Watch a toddler.
"A toddler’s running is incredibly efficient,"
Halstead said. Toddlers lead with their chest and core and
allow gravity to pull them forward. Their feet fall below
their hips, allowing their bodies to stay in perpetual forward
When we’re uncomfortable, we tend to take in less oxygen,
which causes cramping. Practice belly breathing: Put one hand
on your diaphragm below your belly, inhale and watch what
happens. If your chest rises, then you’re breathing
shallowly. But if your belly rises, then you’re getting a
Shoulders stay down and are relaxed.
should be at a 90-degree angle and remain loose. "You don’t
want this big, stiff upper body," Halstead said.
should be soft, and not clenched. "I tell people to run
as if they have a potato chip in between their fingers,"
your arms in the direction you want to go — forward, not
side to side in front of your body. Doing the latter will
cause your torso to shift from right to left, making your
does it. New runners often start out too fast and can’t make
it more than a block without running out of gas. It takes time
to build up stamina and leg muscles. Run mindfully — pay
attention to the sound of your breathing and how your body
feels. If you can’t carry on a conversation, then you’re
going too fast. And another thing: Ditch the headphones. It’s
the one piece of advice Halstead offers that generates the
most protests. "It’s like pulling a pacifier out of a
baby’s mouth," she said. Listening to music can mess
with your body’s natural rhythm. Before you know it, you’re
unconsciously running to the fast beat of your pumped-up song
instead of listening to your body to set the pace.
no running uniform, but the right gear will keep you
comfortable — and make your runs more enjoyable. For women,
the basics include a good sports bra. Halstead recommends
getting fitted. For men and women, chafing happens. Before a
run, rub some body glide — it resembles a stick of deodorant
— on the places where you tend to chafe, such as between the
thighs. Running warms your body fast, so if you’re outside,
dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer than the actual
walking, we put our heels down first. But if you do that when
you’re running (known as "heel striking"), it’s
jarring. "You’re essentially putting the brakes
on," Halstead said. "You end up running with your
joints and not your legs." That can lead to several
problems — from shin splits to knee injuries to fractured
heels. To prevent injuries, run on the balls of your feet.
good-fitting running shoe is essential for starting out on the
right foot. Our experts recommend visiting a specialty running
store for a professional fitting. Generally, your running shoe
size will be a half to a full size larger than your dress
shoe. You shouldn’t have to "break in" a new pair
of running shoes. They should be comfortable right away, said
Rebekah Metzdorff, co-owner of Mill City Running in
Minneapolis. How do you know when your shoes are worn out?
Typically, after you’ve put 400 miles on them, she said.
the best way to prevent injuries. Stretch after a run when
your muscles are warmed up. If you need to loosen up
beforehand, do "dynamic stretching" — adding
movement to stretches. Try a lateral pendulum swing with your
leg moving side to side in front of you. This will loosen
muscles in your hips, butt and hamstrings.