5 Running Tips for Newbies from MSUB’s Coach Coppock

Note: Coach Coppock retired in June of 2017 after 28 seasons as cross-country Head Coach at MSUB

I am a newbie runner. I start and stop running multiple times each year never really achieving any sort of distance. I’d like to run every 5K in Billings with ease but I never seem to get trained up for that. Shin splint pain stops me after about 2 days of consecutive running.

In doing research for this running series, I had the opportunity to get some expert advice from MSUB’s Cross Country Coach, Dave Coppock who is also a long time Rim Runner member (you might catch him at a Wednesday night club run and if you are having any running related issues, he can help you out). I am looking forward to puttying these tips to use. I hope you find them helpful if you are a beginning or intermediate runner.

Here’s 5 Running Tips for newbies from Coach Coppock:

1) Invest in Good Running Shoes

Along with making the investment in a good pair of running shoes, be sure to get some advice on what is the best running shoe for you. Just because a friend recommends a certain shoe, does not mean it is the right shoe for you. We’re all built different and have a different pronation. Cindy and Matt from Time Out Sports are known to be good at fitting runners. Other shoe shops in town likely also have staff trained to find you a good fit.

2) Build Up Your Running Gradually

You should aim for a 10% increase in mileage each week. When starting a new activity, you’re likely to have a lot of ambition at first but if you overdo it, you can cause injury or simply get burned out in a hurry. Listen to your body and walk in between running at first, go short distances, or only go every other day or so. You’ve got to get your body adjusted to this new activity. (If you tend to get shin splints like I do, this can be one of the most useful tips. Coach Coppock said that Freshman coming into his running program often get shin splints that first year as they are upping their mileage but that eventually, they “run through them,” – their body eventually adjusts.)

3) Run on a Variety of Surfaces

Sidewalks are the hardest surface you can run on and can be jarring on your body if you are running on them on a regular basis. Where it is safe to, consider running on the asphalt and do seek out dirt trails as well. Billings has a wide variety of trails (stay tuned for some great routes in a future post) in every area of town along with several tracks where you can get your run on. Changing up your surfaces changes the muscles you are using during your run so you aren’t overworking and injuring the same ones over and over.

4) Be Consistent

While you should build up your running gradually, it should still be consistent. Don’t take long periods of time off. It will just be harder to get started again. Finding an experienced running partner is a good idea to keep you motivated and to offer helpful tips and resources that can help keep you going. In fact, you can always join the Rim Runners to belong to a supportive running community.

5) Use Good Form

• Run Tall – this opens you up and helps you breathe

• Work on your core through strengthening exercises – this will help you run tall

• Run over your center of gravity – your ears should be aligned with your hips and your foot strike should be under your center, not in front or behind you

• Try for a mid-foot strike – this provides more of a forward rolling motion with less of a jarring impact

Here’s hoping these tips help you get your running on track for the summer! Big thanks to MSUB Cross Country Coach, Dave Coppock for visiting with me and providing the tips!