Running has many benefits; it can help you to lose weight, keep fit and healthy, improve self-esteem, and also enable you to achieve personal goals. If you’re keen to begin running or want to return to this activity after a long absence then there are many different things to consider. Although it may seem straightforward enough, running is hard! And it is particularly hard when you are first starting out. In order to help you avoid injury and keep your motivation levels high, here are some useful tips you may want to consider:
1. Buy a new pair of running shoes
Buying a pair of running shoes is the first thing you should do if you’re thinking of taking up running. That worn out pair of sneakers that you last wore in high school aren’t going to do the job this time I’m afraid. The best thing to do is to visit a specialist running store and have someone examine your running technique and foot type in order to determine the most suitable running shoes for you. Even if you end up paying a little more than you anticipated it will be worth it and will also provide you with an added incentive to lace up and hit the pavement!
2. Warm up and cool down properly
A common mistake for runners eager to get out and get some miles in is they don’t warm up properly and pick up injuries straight away. Allow yourself at least five minutes before every run to warm up. A warm up could include jogging on the spot, stretching your muscles and walking to begin with. Cooling down after a run is also important and a similar amount of time should be set aside for this too.
3. Don’t worry about pace and distance
There’s no getting away from the fact that if you’re new to running you’re going to find it tough to begin with. The likelihood is that you’ll feet out of breath pretty quickly. The best thing to do is to take it really slow to begin with and alternate between walking and running until your less out of breath and your muscles and joints get used to this new form of exercise. Don’t forget that running has a particularly high injury rate and injuries among beginners are often caused by trying to do too much too soon.
4. Get plenty of rest
In order to enable the muscles you use during running time to recover and strengthen, you must incorporate rest in to your schedule. Everyone is different but as a general rule, beginner runners shouldn’t be running more than three times a week and certainly shouldn’t be running on consecutive days to start with. On your rest days you could try a lower impact cardio workout, such as cycling, swimming or using an elliptical trainer.
5. Keep track of what you’re eating
Believe it or not, many new runners actually put on weight! Although running is great for burning calories it can be easy to over indulge after a run and actually undo all the hard work. Effective running requires a good mixture of carbohydrates and protein but the main problem when people start running is portion control as they think they can eat more than they actually can.
6. Set realistic goals and targets
Setting realistic goals will enable you to keep motivated, even on tough running days. It will also mean that you will not become despondent from setting your sights too high to begin with. A realistic goal for a beginner runner might be to train and participate in a 5k park run. These events are held every Saturday and are completely free.
7. Download an app
There are many good running apps to choose from including Strava and Runkeeper. An app will enable you to track your progress and also see how friends and fellow runners are getting on with their training. You can also sign up to challenges on apps and feel a sense of achievement when you reach your goals.
8. Get a running buddy
A running buddy who will drag you out the house for that run, even when it’s pouring down with rain outside, and will be a great motivating factor. It can also be good to have a bit of social interaction every now and again as running is often viewed as a solo activity.
9. Mix up your routes
Running the same route every time you step foot out the door can become very boring. Mixing up your route can provide you with more motivation and can also make you a better runner. A route which might involve, for example, more hill work opposed to your regular route, will help to improve this particular aspect of your training.
10. Join a running club
Once you’ve been running for a little while you may feel that you want to become a full blown member of the running community by joining a club. A club will allow you to train and share your experiences with like-minded individuals and also make new friends. You will also be able to gain some great tips and advice from more experienced runners.