Running is one of the most exciting, simple and low-cost ways to exercise, get fit and lose weight. But if you’ve never run before, it’s easy to get put off the idea simply because you don’t know how to get started. Well look no further, this quick guide will get you from the armchair to out there, explaining exactly how to get started with running as a complete beginner.
First Things First, Preparation for Running
Before we even attempt our first run, there are two basic things we’ve got to start taking care of, our mobility and our core strength. (If you read my article on 4 Non-running Ways to Become a Better Runner, you’ll know all about the importance of these). But if not, I’ll give you the shorthand version.
Good mobility and core strength mean that you have a good posture. A good posture is much more capable of absorbing forces from the ground, meaning you can run much more efficiently and reduce your risk of injuries. I recommend a few simple hip stretches as well as some planks.
Try to perform both as often as possible for a couple of weeks before you start running. (And keep doing them even when you are running regularly!)
Next Up, Buying the Right Training Gear
There’s a lot of pretty fancy running technology around nowadays, but don’t worry about all that just yet. In fact, for a lot of runner’s, there’s never any need for all that fancy tech. To get started the only things you actually need are comfortable sports clothing and comfortable running shoes.
Here’s a top tip, don’t get suckered into buying the latest pair of running shoes for £200. You don’t need the million and one magic features (most of them don’t do anything anyway) Nor do you need ‘pronation correction’ or some sort of insole. What you need is a basic pair of bog standard running shoes that fit your feet closely, but without feeling tight. You can pick up a pair for between £40-80.
The same goes for your clothing. No-one’s going to be impressed by your brand new Nike/Adidas/Insert brand name here mega clothing. All you need is for your clothing to be comfortable and ideally made of a breathable fabric.
Your Warm Up
When motivation strikes it can be tempting to head straight to the front door and out for your run, but hold your horses for just one minute. Don’t forget your warm up!
Whether you’re a complete beginner just starting running or an experienced runner with years of practice you should still be doing a warm up. This will help to improve your performance as well as reduce the risk of injuries. A good warm up should consist of a few simple dynamic movements that raise your heart rate, get fluid into your joints and activate your major muscles.
Your First Run/Walk
Now that you’re warmed up its time to head outside and start your first run. Depending on your age, ability level, and overall fitness your first ‘run’ might have to be a fast paced walk, that’s completely okay. (We’re called ‘beginners’ for a reason right?)
I recommend picking a short, simple and achievable route for your first run. Again the exact route you choose will depend on you as an individual. Some examples might be a 400-meter lap of a track, a mile run around your local park or even a half mile walk around your local neighborhood. You’re not aiming for anything amazing so don’t go putting any pressure on yourself, just go out and enjoy it. Listen to your body and try to stay relaxed; have fun with it.
Getting Home and Recovering
The trick to getting better at running is making sure that your body has enough time to rest and recover before your next running session.
I recommend grabbing a good protein-rich snack when you get home and making sure that you get to bed in time to allow for at least 8 hours sleep. Hopefully in a couple of days, you’ll feel great again and be ready to grab your trainers for another run/walk. There is a great range of tips to get more sleep!
Everyone wants to get better at things, and I’m sure you’re no exception. With running it’s really simple to get better, you either have to run slightly further than last time, or you have to run the same distance slightly faster than last time.
If you can only walk right now, then try to build up the distances you walk for as well as the speed you walk at. When you feel that you can walk a good distance at a reasonable pace then try to introduce a small run.
Don’t try to push yourself too hard too soon though. Keep things easy and fun, and only look for small improvements each week. If you stick with these small improvements over a longer period of time then you’ll get much fitter with a much smaller risk of injuries.
Time to Go and Get Running
Alright, so we’ve looked at mobility, core strength, running clothing and shoes. We’ve also looked at how to perform a good warm up as well as how to do your first run and recover from it. Last but not least I’ve offered a couple of simple tips for progress. Hopefully, you’ve found this short guide helpful and you’re feeling inspired to go and get running.