One of the most common questions from those considering running and those new to running is “what tips do you have for those just getting started?”
I have been running since 1990 when I started training to join the British Army, although the Army showed me how much I had to learn!
Although the Army taught me how to run, it only taught rudimentary techniques subject to the whim and knowledge of the particular physical training instructor (PTI) taking the lesson.
As a result, I decided to gain a formal qualification and trained under an Australian former 400 metre athlete.
As a qualified running coach, the following are some quick tips for the start of your running journey.
Set Up The Right Kit
Running is not expensive as a sport. Just get the basic kit together, and you are ready to go. Just make sure you have the right (or appropriate) gear.
You should be able to find a great specialist running store near you. Visit them for a gait analysis. This is where you run for a while on a treadmill while they analyse how your feet are working. This can tell if you are a supinator, pronator, or even overpronate. This may mean you will need supportive trainers.
There are a plethora of running shoes available for the different foot types, it is just a matter of design and colour taste – which is personal. I also find it is good to splurge on appropriate (and perhaps specialised) running socks, particularly when I intend on going for more distance. Take a look at the Orthotic Shop and find a pair that suit you to get your running off to the best start. You will also need to consider shorts or long jogging trousers, as well as gloves and headgear depending on the weather and time of year.
Establish A Goal
If you are truly intent on commitment, then it is necessary to have something you can work towards. If running is new to you, then look for a 5 kilometre race you can enter.
Your goal could be as simple as finishing it without having to stop. You might also aim to finish it in less than half an hour.
The goal that you pick does not really matter so much as you have a (realistic) goal that you can work towards.
If you are a little more experienced and in need of a fresh boost, aim for a longer race. Achieve the goal, and then enter another one soon. Structure helps also.
Make A Plan
When it comes to running, some people are more sheep than sheepdog, meaning they may be more comfortable with a website, coach, or app telling them what to do before they set out to do it.
Find the plan which works for you and then stick to, as this will help you achieve that goal you have chosen.
Identify Your Style
This does not mean finding the running gear you look most fashionable in!
It means figuring out what will make running the most enjoyable for you personally.
If you dread every run, then you are not going to carry on – and therefore not achieve that goal you have set.
So, whether you need to find a beautiful spot to run in, downloading podcasts, or just having quality time to kill your hearing with heavy metal, find out what really works for you.
Make sure you can appreciate the upsides, even if other parts hurt. For me, going for a run is time for a mix of contemplation, idle thoughts, and quiet time (away from the kids and wife).
You might be the kind of person who needs a running buddy in order to get you going. However, running with a partner is not for everyone. Many even dislike it intensely. Even if you are not physically pounding your neighbourhood pavement with a buddy along, do you have anyone else in similar circumstances that you might share your pains/joys with? Or, just someone who might be the only one who understands your triumphs and personal bests? If you’re looking for such a person, check out Fetcheveryone.com which is a website for runners to find support from one another, either in real life or virtually.
Honour Your Body
I do not want to sound New Age, but you have to listen to your body. You need to know the difference between an ache and a pain.
Your body (e.g. muscles and joints) will take time getting used to all the new work.
You can find an abundance of information on running here.
Do not Forget Other Exercises
If you get snowed in, injured, or just can not muster up the mental stamina to go running one day, find something else to do.
There are many of types of exercise which can substitute and/or compliment your running.
Swimming is great for stretching sore muscles, for example the day after, while Pilates is great at building up core strength. Even a spinning class can aid conditioning, without beating down your knees and ankles.