Whilst I am by no means an expert on running, I am an expert on being a beginner at running. My relationship with running is very much a stop-start affair, as I keep getting injured or generally distracted, so I have picked up a lot of tips along the way that are essential for beginners to know.
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After my posts on walking and how that is how I started exercise before moving on, I have had a lot of questions on how I moved on from walking to running. It might seem like a natural progression, but it is a fairly big leap. But not one that you should be scared to take. If you are just starting out with exercise and you are interested in running, here are my tips on how to get started.
1) Take it slowly – Sure you might want to be able to run a marathon straight away, but that is not realistic, is it?! Start with running for 30 seconds (or even 10 seconds) and then walking for 30 seconds and gradually build your way up by increasing your running time. Don’t focus on speed at the moment.
2) Get the right running shoes – I recently went to Millet Sports to find the ones that are right for me. Not all running shoes are the same and it depends if you are running on roads or trails and what kind of runner you are. If you can, it is always good to go to a shop that you can get a gait analysis done and they will tell you the best type of shoes for you. You can always take that advice and go buy the shoes from somewhere else.
3) Follow a running program – I really like the couch to 5k program as it is easy to follow and fairly gradual, although some weeks have a big jump. The only negative that I find with those programs are if you have the app for it, some of the voices are really annoying and patronising, but maybe that is just me haha.
4) Fuel your body – Nutrition is always important, but especially when you are working out. Before my runs, I eat something that is going to give me a lot of energy, like a banana with homemade peanut butter – generally something carby. After my workout, food is equally important as you need to repair your muscles. This is where getting some protein in is important and I usually go for something like Greek yoghurt, boiled eggs or some grilled chicken.
5) Set a goal – Whilst you want to take it easy in the beginning, there is nothing wrong with setting yourself a goal. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, but by all means aim big if you want to. Perhaps you want to run for 5 minutes without stopping? Run a 5km? Be able to keep up with someone else? Set a goal and it will motivate you to keep pushing forward.
6) Find a running buddy – I know this is not for everyone and some people find working out alone better for them, but having someone there is encourage you might be just what you keep. You can give each other a kick with you want to skip a run and be there to congratulate each other when you reach a goal. I think the important thing here though is to find someone that is at the same stage of running as you.
7) Find somewhere nice to run – This might seem an odd one, but since I have started running at a new park that has a tree lined road that I can run up and down, I am finding my runs that little bit easier. It is quiet enough for me to not feel crowded, it is pretty to look at and there are a few other encouraging runners around.
8) Listen to your body – When I first started running, I got that runners high pretty quickly. I was so happy that I was enjoying it and that I was improving with it, that I ignored the little pains in my knee whenever I was running. I convinced myself that my knees were just getting used to it. The truth is, my knees are weak from carrying around so much excess weight for so many years. I pushed myself and didn’t listen to my body and just made it worse to the point where I had to take a long time off running and I still get injured a lot now. Listen to those signals and take time off if you need it.
9) There is more to working out than running – that statement might annoy some hardcore runners, but you shouldn’t just focus on running. Weight training is important too, or even make some time for yoga – you will actually find that both will help with your running.
10) Remember that running is not for everyone – this isn’t to encourage you to give up, but I hear so many people that say that are forcing themselves to run, despite hating it. There are SO many different workouts out there, that there is no need to force yourself to do something you hate. Sure, it might take you a while to enjoy running, but if after a while you still hate it, know that is fine and find something you enjoy.
What are your running tips for beginners? Leave a comment below.
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*This is post is in collaboration with Millet Sports*