You have decided to start running regularly? Congratulations! You’ve done with the hard part. It might be tempting to put on shoes and head out to start running right away, but there are several things you should think about before doing anything. Here are top 20 tips for new runners.
1 Start slowly
It might be difficult to rein in your enthusiasm when you first start running, but it pays to begin slowly, no matter your current level of fitness. Running exerts a lot of pressure and stress on your body, and if it’s not prepared for it, you can suffer from injury and/or a lack of motivation. Don’t think that you have to give all or nothing; just imagine yourself after three months of regular running – healthier, fitter and happier. Take enough time to get properly prepared, make a training plan, sort out your kit and then you’ll be ready to start running.
2 Focus on time not distance
Since races are measured by distance, so it’s common to go out and start running in kilometers or miles. However, new runners might find that time is a more motivational gauge. In the beginning try running for ten minutes, and then increase the time by five minutes every week, or you can exercise in intervals of running and walking. Measure how far you can run in a set time one week, and then try to cover more miles the next week. Once you are able to run for 30 minutes without stopping, you can start worrying about distances instead and think about signing up for a race.
3 Set a goal
Running towards a goal, no matter how small, will keep you motivated you to continue running. Set a large goal, such as losing a stone, running six miles or anything else that you want to achieve. Then break that goal down into lots of small steps so that you have achievable markers to work towards. For instance, if you want to lose weight, you can start smaller by deciding you’re going to eat well and run around the block two times this week; then you decide you’ll run for 20 minutes non-stop by the end of this month and get into your favorite jeans again.
4 Make a plan
Like any other hobby, running takes some planning to fit it in. Life is so busy that people can easily forget about exercise, even though it’s very important. Decide how often you can fit running into your week plan and when you’re going to do it. Also, add this into your phone’s calendar or your diary as an appointment that you’re not going to miss. Tell your friends and family how important it is to you so that they support you in achieving your goals and respect that your running time is non-negotiable.
5 Use your commute
One of the hardest things about running is to take time to do it. Try looking at how you can use your daily commute to fit in a run without taking too much time out of your day. Can you run home from work with a small running bag for you to keep your things in? Or could you run home from the school run, or invest in a running buggy and have a morning jog instead? You have a dog? Turn the morning walk into a run. By making the most of journeys that you need to make, you’ll be able to become a regular runner.
6 Listen to your body
When it comes to running, your body knows what’s best. If something hurts, that’s a sign that you’re overworking your body and need a rest. Not every ache and pain is a sign that you should stop running, but only you know how much pain you’re experiencing, and whether you can keep running through it. Also, pay attention to any signs of overtraining, such as lack of motivation, tiredness, lack of sleep, loss of appetite, etc. These are all signs from your body to take a break. When you’re ready to run again, your body will let you know that too.
7 Buy the right running shoes
You don’t need much to start running. But the one thing that you for sure shouldn’t scrimp on is your running shoes. There are far too many people on the road running in unsupportive fashion trainers, which is begging for an injury. Running shoes are designed to support your foot, absorb impact and minimize risk of injury. Every person has unique feet, so what works for one runner won’t necessarily work for another. Before you start running, visit a specialized running or sports shop and ask them to analyse your running so that they can determine how much support and cushioning your feet need.
8 Choose the right sports clothing
You don’t need the latest technical sports clothing to start running, but there are definitely several pieces of kit that you should think about. Women should definitely start with a good sports bra if you don’t want everything bouncing around, causing pain and future sagging. Ensure that you get one for maximum support, as your breasts will move a great deal during a running session. Next, when it comes to tops, avoid cotton. Cotton will absorb your sweat, which will make you feel cold and the material will become heavy. Even a budget technical t-shirt will offer wicking properties to keep you warm on a cold day and cool on a hot one, as well as staying dry.
If you’re a complete beginner to running, or exercise in general, then begin with a walk/run program. This includes periods of running and walking to complete a set distance or time. If you’re already fairly fit, then you may only need to walk for a short interval in the middle of your exercise, but otherwise consider starting out with a two-minute walk, one-minute run program or similar and increase the running intervals over time. By following this kind of a program, you’ll start to build your fitness, ease your body into running and prevent you from getting common injuries.
10 Don’t run alone
Running is by its nature a more or less solitary physical activity, but it can be sometimes tricky to motivate yourself to get out when you are on your own. Well, there are pros and cons to both running alone and social. Ask a friend or family member to go running with you, and the time will go much faster. Or get your children to ride a bike alongside you, or take the dog out for a run. You can also consider joining a running club if you need company, as other runners will help you to get the most out of yourself, as well as meet like-minded runners. There are also online forums (especially in large towns or cities) designed to help you find local runners of a similar ability, so it’s worth checking these out as well.
11 Stay hydrated
Water is the most vital thing that you need to be taking care of when you exercise. It’s important that you know how to hydrate correctly. Don’t flood your body by gulping water down in large quantities in one go, it’s much better to sip water throughout the day so that you are always well hydrated. When you know you are going for a run, make sure that in a few hours before you head out, you take on a decent amount of water. For shorter runs, you probably won’t need to take water out with you, but if you do then sip it slowly during your run. Don’t forget to rehydrate properly when you get back from running.
12 Keep a diary
One of the best ways to make sure that you stay motivated when running is to keep a diary of your progress. On Day 1, you may only be able to run for five minutes until you are out of breath, but by Day 10 you may already be able to run for ten minutes with no pain. When your motivation decreases, you can look back at those early running logs and remind yourself just how far you have come since you started running. It really won’t take long to build up, and you’ll soon be able to run for 30 minutes in one go and wondering what you found so hard to begin with!
13 Warm up and cool down
No matter if you’re running for 26 minutes or 26 miles, you always have to take enough time for warming up and cooling down, or you will suffer the consequences! This is not to be melodramatic: keep in mind that a lack of warming up can cause pulled muscles, and not cooling down will leave its mark in sore leg muscles the next day. To warm up properly, always begin with a fast walk or slow jog before going into your run and always finish your run with a cool down including a range of stretches.
14 Strength training
Go to the gym as part of your running routine to increase your strength. Your legs take a lot of pressure and stress when you’re hitting the tarmac, so the stronger they are the better. Workouts like squats and lunges are great, adding in hand weights as you progress, as are the leg yoga standing poses, such as the Warrior. Classes like circuits at the gym are good for strength training, as well as adding in an extra dose of cardio.
15 Don’t neglect your core
A strong core is part of every strong runner. It’s not just about getting that six-pack; the core is your powerhouse and determines how good your running form is. Good running form reduces risk of injury. Things like sit-ups are traditional core exercises, but consider yoga or Pilates as a gentle way of getting a strong core, while also helping to stretch out your muscles.
16 Allow your body to recover
Proper recovery is essential, especially for a new runner. All marathon runners and elite athletes know how important rest days are – and rest days mean complete rest! Your muscles need time and energy to repair and recover. Not doing so leaves them weak, increasing risk of injury every time you head out for a run. Run one day, rest the next – that’s the easiest way to make sure that you’ll have a problem-free start to your running hobby.
17 Eat right
Good nutrition is vital to all of us, but it’s even more important for all that exercise regularly. You have to make sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet to fuel your sport, which includes carbs, proteins, fruit and vegetables. Limit your intake of high-fat foods and sugar, and make sure that you eat three times a day – with two snacks – to keep your metabolism ticking over. Don’t go on to a strict diet when running – not all diets are suitable for runners – as you need to make sure that you’re getting all the minerals and vitamins you need. A healthy, balanced diet will yield good results, and help you to keep on running.
18 Use apps
Nowadays, running technology is fairly advanced and your smartphone can help you out as a beginner a lot. Have a look at the great variety of apps available, which include ones that offer you a training program, or map your time, distance and calorie burn. These save you the time and trouble of writing your running diary by hand, and they are also easy to share so that you can show your family your progress.
19 Make sure your runs are safe
Especially if you go running alone, you need to be aware of your safety. If you’re listening to music, make sure that you keep the volume down to the point where you are still aware of your surroundings, and be very careful when crossing a road. When running at night, it’s much better not to use headphones at all, because you need to keep your wits about you. Make sure that you can be seen too, by wearing highvis kit when it’s dark and if there is no pavement always run towards oncoming traffic. Last but lot least, make sure that someone knows where you’re running and avoid isolated areas at night. If you can, take your phone with you in a pocket, but if you don’t have the space, always keep a loose coin for a payphone.
20 Kick bad habits
Smoking and drinking will affect your running performance. Smoking makes exercise more challenging because you’ll suffer problems with your breathing, and therefore find it harder to progress. You won’t recover as well and fact after exercising, either. You don’t have to give up drinking completely but limit yourself to no more than a glass a night, with a few alcohol-free days every week. Drinking alcohol dehydrates your body, which will in turn adversely affect your ability to run effectively.