Getting started with running can feel pretty daunting. I’ve been there. But the benefits of getting started far outweigh the negatives of not. For me, taking my first steps into running began with signing up for a duathlon (combining running with cycling).
Opting for a challenge event gave me the motivation I needed to actually get off the sofa and start training. It’s about finding what you need for motivation and using it to start. And best of all, taking your first steps into running has never been easier.
Despite the often lazy culture of our nation (with TV binges, booze and technology resulting in an inactive nation), initiatives such as Park Run have popped up all over the country which provides everyone with free access to timed 5k runs – for all abilities. Check out the Park Run website for your nearest one.
So, whether you are getting into running to get fit, to de-stress, to challenge yourself or anything else, there are some easy ways to get you running on the right track.
I’ve always found a friend helps. Running solo takes a lot more willpower than having someone alongside you, encouraging you on. Check out our blog on the benefits of a workout partner.
Set realistic goals
The first run is always the hardest. But once you’ve done it, you’ll immediately get the feel-good benefits of those endorphins kicking in. And it all counts. Whether you are jogging, walking or sprinting, it all adds up.
For those with a lower level of fitness, try running for 10 minutes and then walking for 5. As you improve, increase the time running to 15 minutes, and so on.
If you set realistic goals, you’ll continually smash your mini-achievements. It might not be huge gains immediately, but you’ll be able to see your improvements and track your progress.
Nutrition is key
Your diet plays a crucial part in your running journey. I’ve always struggled with this aspect of running as I eat a lot of carbs. However, I don’t believe you need to totally restrict yourself or starve. Healthy is strong, remember. It’s about achieving a balanced diet that will provide you with the energy and nutrition you need.
Why is it important? Getting your nutrition right helps every aspect of running – from performance to recovery, weight loss to energy levels. Alongside a balanced, healthy diet, try upping your iron intake to reduce tiredness and fatigue. And don’t forget, breakfast is the most important meal of the day – it’s no joke. I normally opt for porridge and fruit.
If you head out for a longer run, take a protein bar with you for an instant energy hit and improved muscle recovery. Don’t forget to hydrate – you’ll be surprised at how much water you lose when running.
Mix it up
Obviously, if you want to improve your running, you should get running. However, it’s important to mix up your workouts to ensure the rest of your body gets active and you don’t get bored. If you are being active and working up a sweat, your body will be benefitting. All exercise, whether it’s yoga or spinning, counts!
Look at what is your strongest and weakest parts of your fitness. If you have good endurance but poor strength, try strength conditioning in the gym. If it’s the other way around, try HIIT workouts (where you sprint sections and then walk/jog a section intermittently) to boost your cardio.
Don’t overdo it
It sounds simple, but it really is possible to over-train. You’ll end up injured if you do. You need to learn to love your rest days – because they are just as important as your active days.
Generally speaking, if I feel any niggles, I ease off on the training. You can switch to more low-impact sports like swimming or cycling if your legs are suffering. Don’t ignore the signs your body is giving you.
Get the right gear
It goes without saying, but you need to have the right gear to maximise your performance and reduce the risk of injury. First up is the right running shoes. Make sure you get a fitting as you don’t want to get this wrong. Remember, your feet expand as they get hot. Additionally, you’ll want sweat-wicking clothing to keep your body cool.
There you have a few tips to take your first steps into running. If you need a running plan, check out our training plan here.