How to start running (safely!)
It seems straightforward – just go outside and start running, right?
Well, not exactly.
A lot of things can get in the way, whether it’s work commitments, family, other plans, or simply not having the time or energy.
However, running releases endorphins to make you feel great, can relieve stress and make you feel physically stronger.
So how do you get over the hump, and get into a regular pattern of running? These running tips for beginners are a great place to start.
STEP ONE – Mind over matter
Sometimes you may not have enough time, or feel in the right head space, to go out running.
Don’t be afraid to seek a little outside help to find the motivation you need. By finding a running buddy, joining a running club, or signing up to group events, such as Parkrun UK, you can encourage each other to keep making the effort.
There is also a variety of running based media available which can help give you a great boost. The Couch to 5K (C25K) programme, is a popular way to get from the sofa to running 5k in a matter of weeks, with a manageable programme that gradually raises your fitness level.
STEP TWO – Get the right footwear
Running shoes provide vital cushioning and support for your feet, helping to prevent injuries and boost your athletic performance at the same time.
However, with so many types available, it’s easy to see why someone might feel overwhelmed and end up with the wrong choice.
Clifton Bradeley, a specialist musculoskeletal sports podiatrist and advisor to sports brand ASICS, says: “Buying the wrong running shoes can leave you injured and unprotected and by the time you have found the correct ones you may have wasted money too.”
To help make your choice more informed, try visiting a specialist running store. The staff will often help you choose a pair while analysing your foot size and shape, and your running gait, to determine the perfect pair of running shoes for you.
STEP THREE – Where to run
It’s a good idea to plan your route. That way, not only can you run in a location that’s pleasing to the eye, you also know how far you are running, which is a good way to map progress over time and to avoid overdoing it. Apps, such as MapMyRun, will generate a route for you, while tracking statistics such as your pace and stride length.
Try to think about the surface you run on. Concrete is a common choice, given that many people live in cities and have few alternatives. However, it’s one of the hardest surfaces you can run on can put strain on your joints and muscles.
STEP FOUR – Pace yourself
If you push yourself too hard at the start, you are most likely going to get injured and put yourself off running longer-term.
Running coach and exercise physiologist Janet Hamilton tells Runners World: “You have to start where you are, not where you think you should be. If you go further or faster than you’re ready for, your body can’t adapt quickly enough and you’ll get injured.”
Think of it like driving a car. You can’t just go straight into top gear; you have to work your way up, one at a time.
STEP FIVE – Take time to recover
The steps you take post run are essential to ensure that running stays fun in the long-term, and to prevent injuries.
It’s important to stretch immediately after you run as this will help you to cool down gradually and increase your flexibility.
The NHS says you should aim to stretch to the point of feeling tightness or slight discomfort. They add: “You shouldn't feel any pain when doing these exercises. If you do, stop and seek medical advice.” Follow their full stretching advice here.
You should also think about leaving enough time between runs to let your body rest and become stronger. For beginners, experts recommend aiming for a maximum of 3 to 4 runs per week.
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