Beginner’s Guide To Running

Beginner’s Guide To Running


Marathon, Jogging, People, Men, Outline, Running

It’s that time of year again when the streets and parks are filled with brightly coloured runners.  They come in all shapes, sizes and speeds and are all on their own personal journey … quite literally.  Have you always been tempted to join their ranks but find yourself daunted by the prospect?  Why not check out our beginner’s guide to running, filled with handy top tips on how to get started and have fun doing it!

Just do it…

Now I know this is a catchy slogan, however, simply put, if you would like to join the millions of people who pound the streets and countryside every week, you just need to go out and do it. It is so easy to put off a run for another week, you’re too busy, too tired, catching up on Game of Thrones before the new season commences… When you are starting out, all you need is 15 minutes.  A wee bit of stretching, a mile of walking/jogging and you’re off!  

Kit…

One of the benefits of running is that it’s a really cheap way to exercise.  No costly gyms fees or expensive mechanical fitness machines for your home that you end up drying your laundry on.  That said, it’s probably worth buying some new trainers.  There’s a good chance the ones you have had for 10 years to walk the dog with, are not going to be quite as supportive as you need and rule number 1 of running is to look after your body.  Plus, buying new trainers is fun!  They don’t need to be a top of the range, “injected with multi-coloured oxygen particles” pair that will require a second mortgage.  Loads of great sports shops will find help you find the right style for your gait and you’ll still have change for a cuppa.

Warm-up…

Always warm-up and cool down, even when you’re just starting.  Stretching is not just for athletes and I promise, from experience, there is nothing fun about walking like John Wayne because you didn’t take a couple of minutes to stretch.  Also, don’t just lunge quickly in and out of these for 2 seconds each as though you’re in an 80’s dance video.  Hold each stretch for 20 secs for maximum relief.  Sighing is permitted.

Plan…

In the beginning you don’t know how long to try and run for and everything feels tough.  You don’t want to over-do-it, however also you want to push yourself.  Best plan is to have a plan.  There are loads of websites where you can download running plans for complete beginners that provide you with weekly breakdowns of how often and how far you should run.  These enable you to build up your running carefully and ideally injury free.

Apps…

Running apps are also a fantastic source of support.  Ranging from interactive couch to 5k programmes which provide motivating coaches, to running communities who support you on your journey.  You can track your mileage, plan routes so you don’t get lost (I have personal experience of this one adding additional unexpected mileage!) and you can even enjoy the thrill of being chased by zombies.

Goals…

Set yourself bitesize achievable goals so you feel like you’re making progress during the first few weeks.  It’s unlikely you’re going to be beating Usain Bolt any time soon over a 100m dash, however on the plus side – every time you run a longer distance you’ll be achieving a PB.  It’s all about the small wins!

Tunes…

It’s worthwhile having some banging playlists to keep you motivated.  Whether it be a few of your favourite tunes, or a running playlist that’s to your taste, it’s amazing how it distracts the mind as you run through the streets.  Always check a playlist out first before you run, one thing that’s going to kill your running mojo is having to stop and change music because suddenly you’re listening to Jedward.

Running Clubs/Groups/Mates… (delete as appropriate)

Runners benefit from company, especially in the beginning.  The joy of a running club is that there will usually be a wide variety of abilities there and often specific programmes tailored for beginners.  Not only will they take out all the hard work of planning and finding a route, it’s also a brilliant way to make new ‘running’ friends as you motivate each other on your journey.  Once you’re ready, why not incorporate Park Run into your programme, even if you’re walking part of it to begin with. It’s a fantastic community and you can measure your progress weekly.  If you don’t have any groups or clubs near you, or you’re just not ready for that step, why not find a mate who’s starting out too and you can jog/chat/laugh together twice a week.

Fuel/hydration…

As with any exercise, you need to think about what you’re putting into your body pre and post run.  Don’t eat right before you head out (cue stitch), but also make sure you’re not so hungry you could eat your own arm.  When you get back, eat something containing a little protein within 30 mins of getting home.  Drink up too – with lots of water to replenish your body after all that sweating!  You’ll note I say water here, rather than tea, coffee or a pint…

Have fun….

Seriously.  I promise you it will get easier and you will start to have fun.  The first few times you go out it’s genuinely hard to see how you’ll ever be able to run past the postbox at the end of the street, but you will.  It becomes incredibly satisfying to watch both your distances grow and your speed increase.  Keep mixing it up too.  Try different routes and terrains, times of day, running group and mates, so that you don’t get bored. 

So – what are you waiting for?  Why not lace up those trainers (if you have velcro trainers you really do need to go shopping) and head out for a run today.  If you’re feeling really brave, you could even sign up for the Run Reigate 10K and enjoy all the fun of a big event with medals, t-shirts, food stalls, bands and hundreds of people cheering you home in your first race.