Running is a fun activity and it is an excellent way to stay fit. But starting to run when you haven’t before can be a daunting prospect. Where do you begin? What equipment do you need? Don’t worry, starting to run is easy. These nine tips will help you to become a runner in no time at all.
1. Set realistic goals for your running
You’ve decided to start running, and at the start of your new exercise regime, you’re no doubt extremely motivated. But after a while, that enthusiasm will probably start to wane a bit. It’ll be tough going out in the rain when you’re tired and you’ve had a long day at work.
So try to take measures to keep yourself motivated. There are many ways of doing this. For example, you could promise yourself a reward when you’ve finished your first 30 minutes of running. It can also be a good idea to sign yourself up for a race. A five-kilometer race is very achievable, even for a complete novice. Even if on the day you end up having to alternate running and walking, you’ll still amaze yourself with how much progress you’ve made. Entering a race can be a huge motivator to put your running shoes on and get out there, even when you don’t really feel like it.
2. Go with the program
A training program is your key to success. A good place to start is the famous Couch to 5k. Commonly abbreviated to c25k, it’s a beginners program that’s designed to build up your strength and fitness from zero to running a full five kilometers in ten weeks.
At the start, you’ll be alternating running with walking. As you progress through the program, you’ll walk less and run more, until you’re running 30 minutes without stopping. C25k is suitable for almost everybody, even if you have not done any exercise in years.
You can find this program for free on the internet, and there are even apps to download to your smartphone that will give you audio cues and track the time and distance you’ve run.
There are a few couch 2 5k books available.
3. Get the right gear
Essential to running without injury are good shoes. Running doesn’t require much equipment and is generally cheap to get into, but the one piece of gear you really want to invest in is your pair of running shoes. They will likely not be cheap, but they will mean the difference between a happy, injury free runner and a sore, injury prone one.
Personally I swear by Nike Zoom, but there are lots of choices out there, and each pair of shoes suits a different type of runner. In good sports or specialist running stores, the staff will analyze your feet and running gait. Based on the data they gather, they are then able to advise you on the best pair of shoes to give your feet the support they need.
4. Go slow
It’s not just time and distance that you need to build up slowly. Almost every new runner tries to run too fast. If you’re unable to hold a conversation, you’re going too fast. Think you are going really slow already? Try going slower again. It may feel like you could walk as fast as you can run, but don’t worry. As your fitness levels increase, your running will get faster.
5. Make a plan
Start by running two or three days a week. Don’t run two days in a row, rest days are important to let your body recover and your muscles grow. Try to plan regular days for your runs and build a routine that you can stick to.
6. Look after your body
One of the biggest mistakes new runners make is going too fast, too soon. In fact, even experienced runners fall into that trap from time to time. Running without injury, such as knee pain, is perfectly possible for the vast majority of people. The way to do that is to build it up slowly. Give your body a chance to adjust to the additional impact. Do stretches and exercises to help your muscles and joints. And stick to your training program. Don’t be tempted to do an extra couple of minutes when the running seems easy. That’s a fast lane to injury.
7. Don’t care what other people think
If you’re starting to run from scratch, you’ve probably not run in many, many years. Maybe you’ve never done much running at all, or at least not since childhood. You might be a little bit overweight. After just 20 seconds you will start feeling breathless and you start sweating. You will be running very slowly while all around you experienced runners fly by. You feel like everybody is watching and judging.
You know what? Stop worrying about what other people think. First of all, you can be almost certain nobody is watching. People really don’t care. Second, all those fast runners? They had to start somewhere too. The running world is a friendly community and if anyone will comment at all, it will be words of encouragement.
8. Make a playlist
Listening to a thumping beat while running has been scientifically proven to reduce fatigue an spur runners on to run further and faster. Get yourself some running headphones and feel the beat.
9. Join a club
One of the best parts of running is that it can be done anytime, anywhere, and doesn’t require company. But that doesn’t mean that the sport can’t be made better by joining in with others.
A quick search on the internet will almost certainly show you there are runners’ clubs near you. Most of these will be beginner friendly. A lot of clubs will have meets, especially for beginners. These are a great way to get invaluable advice on your running technique that will help you avoid injury and run faster. But more than that, by introducing a social aspect, you can gain motivation and some new friends.
Running is a great way to stay fit and healthy, and if you take the above advice on board, there’s no reason why you can’t go out and be a runner too.
10. Get a few running books
I find reading about running adventures incredibly inspiring. I’d recommend reading some books about running, a few favourites of mine are What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Eat & Run and Ultramarathon Man.