Even if you’re not planning on running this year’s London Marathon but still fancy giving running a try, we’ve got a few pointers that might help you get your jog on.
Running is the simplest and cheapest form of exercise around and, done properly, one of the most fun as well. All you need to do is step outside and set off. Getting started with running can, however, be a little daunting, so here are some tips to help you get started and avoid some of the basic mistakes some runners make when they’re first starting out.
Before You Start Running
It’s vitally important to make sure you are medically fit to take up running. If you have any concerns, speak to your GP before starting.
What do you Need?
Comfortable clothing and, if needed, a supportive sports bra are absolutely key. If you plan on running in the dark, then either a high-visibility vest or top would be a good investment to help keep you safe.
Making sure you get yourself a good quality pair of running shoes is also essential as lots of injuries, aches and pains can come from inappropriate footwear. This doesn’t mean they have to be the priciest pair in the shop however, just that they are right for you. First things first, get your feet and your foot strike measured as these factors will help determine if you need more structure in the shoe to help prevent injuries.
It’s also important to remember that trainers can weaken or go flat over time and, as a rule of thumb, you should replace them every 300miles/482km or so.
Too Much too Soon
Pushing yourself too hard too early – such as trying to run 5km non-stop, or run for an uninterrupted 20 minutes – is one of the biggest mistakes novice runners make and it happens all too frequently.
While it’s great to be enthusiastic, it’s vital you stay realistic and set yourself achievable targets. Pushing yourself too hard too soon is setting yourself up to fail as you’ll lose motivation, as well as putting yourself at greater risk of injury. Aim to jog short distances or time periods then walk for a set distance or time before jogging again. You can do this for as long or as short as feels comfortable. Each time you head out for a run aim to do a little bit more. By using this technique you will quickly start to improve your running stamina and fitness.
Recovery is key
Your body needs time to recover after a run, whether you’re new to running or are an elite athlete. It’s important that you leave at least one day between outings and you should also make sure you eat well-balanced meals too, as this will help recovery, as well as giving you enough energy to run further and faster. Furthermore, hydration plays a massive part in performance and recovery and it’s absolutely vital you drink plenty of water before, during and after your runs to replace all the fluids you lose while exercising.
Even if you already do plenty of other types of exercise, you may still struggle with running, but don’t worry – this is completely normal. All exercise puts different demands on the body and running is no exception. This means that it may take a couple of weeks or so for your body to get used to it and for you to find your running rhythm.
Pacing and Tracking Yourself
We are all guilty of setting off too quickly at first when our bodies are feeling fresh but then, after a few minutes, the lactic acid kicks in and the legs start to burn and you come to a complete stop. If, however, you set off at a slower pace, but keep going for longer, then you’ll get far more benefit from each run
Try to maintain a regular pace as you will find you will be able to run for longer. This can be done by using fitness trackers. You can also use music to help pace your speed. There are loads of running playlists designed at different speeds to help with pace and motivation. This is a great alternative to trackers.
If you’re running with a buddy, you don’t always have to keep up with them if they’re faster than you.
There are hundreds of running apps to use for free which can really help motivate and keep you on track. Alternatively, you can plan routes and measure distances online so you can work out how far you have been.
Don’t Worry About the Occasional bad run
Occasionally, you’ll have a run where it just feels like your legs are made of lead, your lungs start burning after only a couple of minutes and just nothing seems to be going right. Don’t worry. This happens to everyone occasionally – it’s just your body having a particularly bad day. The important thing is to push through and keep at it – any activity is better than no activity and you’ll be back on it in no time.
Days like this can be attributed to any number of things, including not drinking enough, potentially feeling unwell, being tired or stressed, or simply not recovered from the previous session. Just don’t let it dishearten you and you’ll be back on form next time.
Warm up and cool down
It’s vital to warm up properly before any sort of exercise, especially running. This can be either a brisk walk or a slow jog, which to get your heart rate up a little, while stretching and mobility exercises will help your muscles get warmed up as well. Warming up properly is essential to helping avoid injuries and to set your run up for success.
Skipping your cool down can lead to injuries and soreness over the following days. At the end of the run, instead of collapsing in a heap on the floor, bring your pace down gradually until you feel like your breathing and heart rate has slowed down to a more normal speed, then do some stretches and mobility moves just to loosen off the legs and upper body. This should take between four and five minutes, but feel free to go on longer if you have time.
Running clubs are a great way to help improve your running and keep you motivated. Don’t worry, not everyone that goes to a running club is the next Mo Farah. Lots of people start out as complete beginners at these clubs and improve over time with the support of like-minded people.
So there we have it, if you want to get out there and start pounding the pavement (or, if the weather’s really terrible, get on the treadmill in an Everyone Active gym) just follow these simple steps and you’re sure to make plenty of progress towards your goals.