Since I started running, I have felt healthier and happier than ever before. I want to spread the joy of running to everyone, but I know not everyone is as keen as I am! (Trust me, neither was I when I started!) What better time to start running than at the beginning of a New Year? If you’re too nervous to pound the pavements, or simply don’t know where to begin, here are 5 points to bear in mind that will help give you that extra push out the door!
1. Get some decent shoes.
Running is a very inexpensive sport to begin with; there’s no need for fancy clothes or equipment, just you and your feet. What you put on your feet is very important, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s definitely worth taking a trip to a sports shop where you can try on different trainers and get advice from the experts as to what type of shoe you need but here’s the tip: don’t buy them in store. Thank them for the advice, say you’re going to mull it over and then get online and buy an older model of what they’ve recommended, for a third of the price! Having a decent pair of shoes on your feet will mean you’re comfortable and less likely to get injured, just make sure to go back and give the store some business some other time! Plus the brand new trainers will make you far more likely to want to move on to the next step…
2. Test those bad boys out…
…on a walk. If you’re completely new to exercise, or know you don’t have a fantastic level of overall fitness, take yourself on a 30 minute walk first. Pick up the pace, get your heart rate up and enjoy the fresh air. If you jump straight into running, the chances are you will be red faced and puffing after about 100 metres and will head straight home, throwing those beautiful new trainers in a neighbours wheelie bin on the way. Once that walk starts to feel easy, you’re ready to move onto the 3rd stage!
3. Get a couch to 5k plan
No matter how experienced a runner is, you will find that they always have a training plan leading up to a race and the same goes for you! Find a couch to 5k program – the NHS has a great one with an app and podcasts – to make your running journey a whole lot easier. This way you don’t need to think about how often or how far you should be running, the plan has it all mapped out for you! Plans should also have a warm up and cool down included but in case you pick one that doesn’t, remember to do some dynamic moves before you exercise, and stretch off after. I can’t stress enough how important a proper warm up and cool down is for injury prevention!
4. Pick your race!
Ok, so this isn’t an essential step, but if you have a goal to aim for you will be far more likely to stick to your training plan. Don’t be put off by the word ‘race’ either, as you’ll find people of all abilities there and it’s really not important where you place. There are all sorts of fun 5k runs to take part in, such as The Color Run or Gung-Ho. If you really don’t want to pay for entry, you could try your local parkrun where I can guarantee you will be greeted with a friendly atmosphere! Here you will find runners (and walkers) of all ages and abilities out on a Saturday morning at 9am, each with a mission to have fun and get healthy – just like you! Or if you’re really struggling to find motivation, why not sign up for a charity run such as Race for Life? By pledging to help a charity you simply won’t be able to back out on race day, and I promise you’ll thank yourself for it afterwards! You’ll be doing good both for yourself and a worthy cause!
5. Have fun!
Sounds cliché but it’s true. If you don’t enjoy running you won’t want to keep doing it, and finding exercise you enjoy is essential! Take runs easy, especially when you first start out. You should feel like you’re exerting yourself but if you feel like you’re puffing so hard you’re about to keel over, slow down! Speed is not important right now, and never be afraid to go back to a walk if you’re struggling. You may struggle to run for one minute at first, but I can assure you that after a few weeks one minute will seem easy and you’ll soon find yourself running for two, then 10, 20, 30…! The thing I love most about running is connecting with the world around me as well as myself. I focus on my breathing, I think about problems I may have and how I can solve them, I come up with new ideas, I take in the scenery, the sky, the wind on my face, the sounds of the birds. I also say ‘hello!’ to everyone – that part really cheers me up!
And a little bonus tip here: believe in yourself. If someone had told me 5 years ago that I’d run a marathon some day I’d have laughed in their face. But I’ve done it and there’s nothing to stand in the way of you doing the same, apart from your own mind. No matter how young, old, big or small you are, you can take the first steps to improving your health, fitness and lifestyle*.
So there are my 5 tips for complete beginners. I hope they’ve inspired you to begin your own running journey, and if they have please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear how you get on!
*If you are underweight, overweight, or feel you have another medical reason to impede your running, please take caution and consult a doctor before beginning any training. I’m not a professional and tips given are based purely on my own experience.