Want to improve your fitness and health? Want to start running but not sure where to start? Here are our TOP 10 TIPS for anyone new to running…
1) Get the right kit
“Preparation is the key to success”
To start with, you need to make sure you’ve got a decent pair of running shoes to cushion and support your joints as you make contact with the ground. At Run4It, we can take you through our +runlab process to fit you for trainers that are appropriate for you and the way you run. This is an eight step process, however, in short, it involves us analysing the way you land, analysing the way your body moves when you run and discovering what kind of fit and feel of trainer will be best suited to you. Rather than just picking a trainer “off the shelf”, this process allows us to work with you to select a trainer that fits and feels great and that will help to improve your run.
Trainers sorted. It’s also worth getting yourself some basic kit – clothing made from technical fabric that’s breathable and comfortable, along with proper sweat-wicking running socks that help to prevent blisters, will be a good start.
2) Have a plan
“A goal without a plan is just a wish”
It’s important to plan how you are going to fit your new exercise routine into your day-to-day life. Are you going to run to commute to work? Are you going to run early in the morning before the rest of the world wakes up? Are you going to run as soon as you get home from work? Are you going to nip out for a run once the kids are in bed? That’s the “when” sorted, now for the actual running part. It’s helpful if you can plan your individual runs – this will stop you from doing the same routes all the time and quickly becoming de-motivated. Try planning where you’re going to run, how long for (time and/or distance) and then put it in your diary! Make it a concrete plan. That way, you’ve committed and are far more likely to stick to it as you’ve scheduled it into your weekly routine.
3) Start steady
“Slow and steady wins the race”
Don’t go off too fast or too far right away, focus on building your fitness gradually. Start by walking and running – going out for say 20-30 minutes – walk for one minute, then run for one minute, and repeat for the duration. Then gradually build up the time you spend running until you can run steadily for 30 mins. If you’re brand new to running, it’s best not to run every day, so you have time to recover. Running 2-3 times per week with rest day’s in-between is a good starting point.
4) Log your progress
“Progress is a process”
Tracking your progress is great for when it’s a wet, windy, Wednesday and you’re not really feeling like heading out. You can look back on your Progress Log and see just how far you’ve come and get yourself out the door and see how much further you can go. Remember, “You are capable of so much more than you think”.
Simply making a note of your runs in your diary or a training log book works well. Alternatively, you could use a running app (such as Strava, Map My Run, Endomondo or Nike+ Run Club) or a GPS sports watch (a basic Garmin Forerunner will track your distance, time, pace and calories burned) to record your runs. It’s motivating and rewarding to see your progress and improvement from week to week.
5) Set a goal
“Set a goal that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning”
If you’ve just started running and are really enjoying it, why not set yourself a goal e.g. to run every week for 1 month straight, to run 5km without walking, or to find and enter a 5k race. Setting goals allows you to look at where you are now and where you want to be in the future. Goal setting can: enhance your short-term motivation, give you an idea of where you want to be in the long-term, help you stick to your plan, give your training a focus, and can help you to organise your time effectively to ensure you fit in all your planned runs.
6) Be patient
“Patience is a key element of success”
Don’t let one “bad” run get you down. We all have off days, when we feel sluggish, lacking in motivation and as if our legs are made of lead. Make sure you recover properly, maybe take a rest day or two. Then, get back out for another run and focus on being positive, persistent and just enjoying your run.
7) Find your groove
”You’ve got to get up every day with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction”
No two runners are the same. Find what makes running enjoyable for YOU. Whether it’s choosing scenic routes, running with friends, getting fit for your sister’s wedding, earning those delicious slices of cake your Granny baked for you, clearing your head after a long day in the office, getting your “me time” in, spending time outdoors in nature, or simply appreciating some quiet time to let you mind wander and relax. Some people like to use music, and some people prefer to listen to the birds in the trees or the waves in the sea – try both and see what you prefer. Make it fun, keep it interesting and don’t always focus on times and stats!
8) Community spirit
“The road seems shorter when shared with a friend”
Make it sociable! Find a friend who also wants to get fit and start running. Join a beginner’s group e.g. JogScotland or join a Run4It run group. Head along to your local Parkrun at the weekends. Running with someone else definitely helps to boost motivation and is especially helpful in winter when the days are short and the dark nights draw in.
9) Stay hydrated and eat well
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
To be healthy, happy, humans it’s important to fuel our bodies properly. If you are starting to exercise more regularly, then it’s even more important! Adequate hydration allows you to replace fluids and electrolytes lost through perspiration. Drinking little and often throughout the day is the best way to stay on top of your hydration.
Now: the food. There is no point in running, exercising and eating really well through the week, to then go wild at the weekend, or in the evenings, splurging on treats and skipping your runs. The key is balance. So, go for your run. Then, have that piece of cake. Just don’t let that one treat turn your day into a spiral of splurging and self-loathing at the mountains of foods you devoured. It’s widely acknowledged that “everything in moderation” is the best way to approach things.
10) Warm up and cool down
“What seems so hard now, will someday be your warm-up”
Warming-up and cooling-down are VERY important. It doesn’t matter whether you’re running for 20 mins or 2 hours, you still NEED to warm-up and cool-down to prevent yourself getting any niggles or injuries. Warming-up should consist of raising your heart rate, activating the muscles about to be used, mobilising your joints and basically just preparing your body to run. Things such as light jogging, skipping, fast-feet, high-knees, heel-kicks, side-stepping and squats would be ideal.
Then, your cooling-down should consist of a mixture of light jogging and/or walking lunges and STRETCHING. Although you may think you didn’t push it that hard, or didn’t run that far, you still NEED to stretch. Just 10 mins of stretching can really affect how you’re going to feel the next morning when you try and get down the stairs. Working from head to toe, focus on stretching each key muscle groups/areas e.g. neck, shoulders, upper back, chest, lower back, hips, front of legs, back of legs, groin and sides of legs, lower legs and ankles.
At Run4It, we are here to help you improve your run in any way that we can. Got a question? Feel free to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, pop in store and ask one our enthusiastic team members for their advice!
One last thing to remember…
“One run can change your day, many runs can change your life”