The Fitness Files: 10 tips for beginners


In his book, “Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner,” Dean Karnazes said, “I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little bit more vibrant, a little more intense.”

Picking up running as a daily activity seems like a pretty daunting task for some. You may look at a marathon runner and say, “I can’t run for that long,” but don’t let that scare you when you begin running.

With the help of Brian Young, director of the fitness programs at Eastern Michigan University’s Rec/IM center, I have a few helpful hints to get you started out.

The first step is to have your whole body coordinated, so that you have proper running form. Your head, shoulders, arms, torso, hips, legs and feet must all be positioned correctly. Your head is the key to a proper posture. Many people want to look down at their feet when they run, but you should always be looking ahead without jutting your chin out.

Your shoulders should stay relaxed, loose and not up by your ears. The job of your arms and hands is to control the tension in your upper body, and they must work in conjunction with your legs to drive you forward.

Your arms should not be swinging in front of your body, but rather back and forth with your elbows at a right angle. It may take a while to find your stride length, but once you do your feet should be landing directly underneath your body.

When you get tired you should try to still keep your body upright and try not to slouch. Keep your hips facing forward at all times and not back or to the side. The proper breathing technique is to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.

Once you get the proper running form down you have to listen to your body and be realistic. It is much better to start running a quarter of a mile using the proper form, than it would be to push through and end up hurting yourself. While stretching before a run is a good idea to loosen up, studies have shown that streatching afterward is actually more beneficial.

“The best thing to do is work with a certified personal trainer, so they can do a fitness assessment and see what type of program would work best for you,” Young said.

As a beginning runner, you may find that running outside poses some challenges such as twists and turns, weather and changes in elevation. As a first-time runner, try running on a track or treadmill where you can control as many variables as possible.

Many of the B Young B Fit programs at the Rec/IM can help beginning runners. Whether you are focusing on building your cardiovascular endurance, or you just want to focus on your running potential, working with one of the certified trainers can help you reach and possibly even exceed your fitness goals.

For more information about EMU’s fitness programs, visit or call the Rec/IM at 734-487-1338.

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