How To: Start Running
The beginner's guide to becoming one of those runner types.
So your New Year’s Resolution was to cut down on the Netflix binges and up your fitness level? Running is a great way to do just that - particularly because you don’t need to splash out on an expensive gym membership when the road is ready and waiting.
But how do you start doing the whole ‘being a runner’ thing properly when your previous experience is limited to jogging after the bus every fortnight or so? Fear not, we gots you covered.
Step 1: Get some proper shoes. And by that we mean RUNNING shoes - not the pair of snazzy trainers you wear out, or tennis shoes, or walking shoes: you need a pair specifically designed for pounding the pavement. Do a bit of research online and talk to someone at your local sports shop before spending that dolla.
Step 2: Strap up the girls. AKA: wear a decent sports bra. The last thing you want is your nunga-nungas doing the cha-cha-cha when you’re in the running zone.
Step 3: Make a playlist. It’s all about preparation, and trying to skip that ballad for something more pumped up is only going to distract you. It’s worth getting an arm or belt pouch for your phone/iPod too - holding it in your hand will get suuuuuper annoying, trust us.
Step 4: Don’t forget the water. Take small regular sips rather than huge gulps unless you wanna get a stitch and/or feel like vomming.
Step 5: Don’t do too much at once. The biggest mistake you can make when you first start running is to push yourself too hard. Don’t attempt a 5K on your first outing - you’ll either quit early and feel like a failure, or injure yourself. Remember that old saying ‘slow and steady wins the race?’ well that literally applies here.
Step 6: Make a plan, and stick. to. it. 20 mins at a time, 3 times a week is a great place to start, with an increase of 10 minute increments every fortnight or so. Using an app like the NHS Couch To 10k is also a great way to introduce your body to excercise if it's not something you've done in a while. You'll start with small intervals of running and walking and build up slowly.
Either way, minutes not miles should be your mantra - the distance based targets will come later, once you’ve got into your stride. There’s some great apps out there for new runners, that’ll set you schedule for you AND send you reminders.
Step 7: Don’t go too fast. Setting off at a sprint that’d have Usain Bolt nodding in approval might feel great at first, but it’s going to lead to a crash and burrrrrrn. As a general rule of thumb (or should that be toe?) you should not be so out of breath that you couldn’t have a brief conversation. In other words, if you’re panting so much you can’t talk - SLOW DOWN.
Step 8: Warm down or regret it later. Trust. Waking up and realising you can’t go to work because you physically can’t get down the stairs is not a fun feeling. Although the skipping work idea is tempting…
Step 9: Switch it up. Without wanting to put you off, running can get a teensy bit boring. Change it up by trying different routes, or running backwards. That second suggestion was a joke, obviously.
Step 10: Sign up to a 5K race a few months away. It’ll keep you motivated and give you something to work towards. After that, how about a 10K? Then a half marathon? THEN A MARATHON? OK maybe let’s just stick to the 5K for now.
- Words by Lizzie Cox.
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