So much for beginner's luck: novice runners are more vulnerable to injury than seasoned runners. Exercisers who are just starting out tend to weigh more, putting additional stress on feet and joints, plus newbies may not be aware of pre-existing knee and ankle problems. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to avoid the most common injuries. The first step is to buy shoes that fit your foot type and provide the support you need (you can go to specialty running stores to find out what shoe is best). Once you're geared up, don't skimp on the warm-up: dedicate 15 minutes to your pre-run prep. Avoid stretching cold muscles by jogging lightly or walking briskly. Then use your new shoes on surfaces that will treat your joints kindly; grass is the softest and concrete is the harshest. Lastly, take it easy. Don't go too far or too fast right away. Even if your first run seems like a breeze, you might wind up so sore afterward that you'll be tempted to skip the next one. Keep a runner's log and work your way up to longer distances week by week. If you are injured, follow the acronym "RICE": rest, ice, compression and elevation. While you're waiting to heal, think about how you can change your form or routine to minimize the chance of getting hurt again. Want to read more about making the finish line? Go to Cool Running.
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