I’ve been running since age 8, competing properly since age 10. It’s been a long journey and it’s had its ups and downs but I’ve learned a lot and I intend to impart some of these things to you in this blog post. Running is one of the few sports that absolutely anyone can do with minimal equipment, all you need is the motivation to get outside. Running regularly makes you fitter (building strong bones, strengthening muscles and helping to maintain a healthy weight) but it also improves your mental health (reducing stress and increasing productivity). There is no reason not to run… and yet for someone starting out, running can be brutal. I remember coming back to running after a holiday and feeling horrible, I remember trying out a longer distance than normal or doing hill-training for the first time. The pain lessens and your recovery time reduces but you’ll always have to push through that intial barrier, which is why today I’ll be giving you 3 tips to help you do just that.
- MAKE SURE THAT YOU’RE COMFORTABLE! You don’t want to be miserable before you’ve even started training. I see plenty of people running around wearing long sleeve t-shirts or even tracksuit trousers in the summer. Now maybe they find them comfortable, but my point is that you should wear appropriate clothing and gear. I get hot really easily so I need a vest top and shorts – I know that cotton vest tops are hot and uncomfortable so I avoid them and similarly normal shorts can cause chafing so I wear running shorts with an elastic inner lining. Know your body and what works for you. Shoes are another thing people get wrong. While you can run in basic trainers, investing in a nice pair will save you a lot in the long term. Casual trainers tend to be heavy, not particularly flexible, not at all breathable and certainly not very cushioned. This is a recipe for blisters and a ruined run. Pop on down to Sports Direct and pick a cheap pair of trainers intended for running and you’ll thank me later.
2) SET YOURSELF ACHIEVABLE GOALS! I know it’s easy to see the words “10K” or “marathon” bandied about on running forums and websites, but for someone starting out you probably shouldn’t be worrying about this sort of stuff. Start small and work your way up, try just going out for a run and keep going until you’ve had enough. In most cases distance is irrelevant. Sure, if I want to train for a competition then I’ll want to be practising the right distance and even the same course, but if you’re new to running and looking at it mostly from a fitness perpective, distance genuinely is unimportant. Let’s say you have a local course, maybe a loop round your park or a run to the highstreet and back. You shouldn’t think about “this is how fast I should run because my friend did it in this time,” instead run the route as fast as you can and then try to beat that. You’re only competing against yourself.
3) BE SERIOUS ABOUT WARMING UP! This is something that I’ve always struggled with, and I know plenty of people who just don’t do a warm-up at all. It’s tempting to skip it, I know that I’ve skipped it in the past. It tires you out, you don’t want to waste energy, what good could it be doing? Warming up helps to prepare you body for the exercise to come, it loosens your joints, increases blood flow and reduces the risk of injury or getting a (dreaded) stitch. It’s a worthwhile activity. You don’t necessarily need to spend half an hour doing it, but 5-10 minutes will help a lot. My calves and shoulders are two muscles that get stiff really easily and doing a short warm-up beforehand is beneficial to the whole workout. After some stretching and light jogging my shoulders loosen up making the swinging of my arms much easier (helping to stabilise my body) and so do my calves, preventing me from pulling a muscle on those stressful uphill climbs. Warming up is boring and it feels like it’s just delaying the inevitable, but it makes you feel better during the run, and it reduces the risk of an injury that would put off so many new runners.
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