If you're thinking of giving running a go for the first time here are a few tips to get you started.
WALKING IS GOOD!
Some beginners head out their front door full of enthusiasm but their eagerness can sometimes lead to them over doing it! When they return home it can leave them thinking that was truly terrible, never again! For all new runners it's totally normal to feel sluggish and out of breath. Running will feel tough but if you follow a sensible programme and take your time your fitness levels will gradually improve. Soon you will be on a personal journey of discovery as you realise that running doesn't feel so bad and can be fun!
If you're a total beginner, it’s best to start out with walking and then gradually introduce some periods of running until overtime you are able to run continuously. Jogging with sections of walking is how I structure my beginners schedules and it’s how I often return from injury. The Couch to 5k uses this approach and it's a great way to start running.
Why walk when you can run?
You need this approach because your body isn’t accustomed to running and so you must allow your body time to gradually adapt. This process is called conditioning and as a beginner that is your primary goal. Don’t think about the purpose of your first few weeks of running in terms of getting fit but instead think of it as preparation for a future of running. You do this by running at a slow easy pace that feels comfortable, meaning you should be able to hold a conversation whilst running. If you can’t get a sentence out then slow down a little more and include more walking with occasional rests too.
A training schedule needs planning but also lots of flexibility so that it caters for an individuals specific progress including any set backs. It must also be achievable by ensuring it fits into a busy lifestyle. It's important to avoid blindly following schedules that are constantly progressing regardless of your changing circumstances. That's why having a coach or an experienced running friend can really help. This is one of the downfalls of using online schedules.
With a sensible approach you'll soon start to notice improvements in your fitness and within just a few months you’ll really begin to feel like a runner. Taking your time is so important, not just so you complete your run feeling ok and aren’t put off, but also because one of the primary concerns when starting out is avoiding injury.
START WITH RUNNING AT AN EASY PACE.
As you transition from walking and running to a continuous run make sure you keep the running at a comfortable pace. Aim to finish your run feeling good and not flat on your back. If you run too fast or too far when you’re not ready it will be less of a positive experience, and you could feel very sore for a few days too! Mild aches and stiffness is ok but too much is a sign you are overdoing it and that you need to slow down a little. If you don't listen to your body you're more likely to pick up an injury.
REST IS GOOD!
Rest days are very important to allow your body time to adapt to running. As a new runner your body will need longer to recover as you are less accustomed to this new activity. As you progress your body will slowly adapt and you'll become more conditioned to run. As your ability improves further you'll find you will be able to run for more consecutive days in a row without feeling unduly tired or sore.
FIND SOME RUNNING BUDDIES!
The moral support from running with others can be really beneficial and so you could consider running with someone or joining a running group. There are lots of beginner groups →
You don’t have to run with other people all the time but for some of you it could really help. My joy of running is a mixture of running alone and with others and it really is a personal preference.
Another option is to simply turn up at a parkrun. If you've not come across parkrun have a quick read here →
Coming Soon - Getting Started Part Two