Running; almost anyone can do it and at this time of year is the perfect time to start.
The weather is getting better (in general), it is free once you have the right pair of trainers and you can do it virtually anywhere. What could be better? Running is excellent for improving your mental wellbeing and is great for your physical health.
While experienced runners are happy to go out and run, people new to running can find their first few runs quite intimidating and stressful. It doesn’t need to be that way. Follow my tips to help you get out there for the first few times, make it a habit and soon running will feel like second nature.
One of the main reasons people give up within the first couple of weeks of running is that they start too fast. Whatever running ability you have, if you start too fast you will not be able to sustain it, it starts to hurt and you have to slow down or stop. This doesn’t mean you are a bad runner; it just means you need to slow down.
Start with walking as a warm-up, then progress to a pace that is too fast to walk but where you can still hold a conversation, or, if you are alone sing to yourself.
Walk before you have to
If you start too quickly you will have to stop and walk. You may then find it a struggle to get going again. The best way to do it is to have a plan in mind before you start (http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k-plan.aspx is a good plan for beginners to follow). Aim to run for 60 seconds and then walk for 60-90 seconds to recover during the first week. Think of it as an interval session, much like the sessions the Olympic athletes do in training, just at a slower pace.
Everyone wants to be able to do things straight away. With running, unless you are a freak of nature, you have to start small and build up. Starting off running too fast or going too far can lead to injury, which will then force you to stop. Slowly increase the time you spend running and reduce the time you spend walking and in a few weeks you will be running for the whole duration.
Get kitted out
Unlike most sports, you don’t need loads of expensive kit to go for a run. However, the one piece of kit you do need is a pair of running trainers. It is worth visiting a local running or sports shop that have an expert who will be able to guide you in the right direction. Don’t feel intimidated, with the current boom in people taking up running they are more than used to having new runners asking questions. The rest of your kit is whatever you feel comfortable running in.
As a new runner, those first steps out of the door can feel like a challenge. Try to get a friend to join you for moral support and use it as a good time to have a gossip. Remember that if you can talk while running you are going at a sensible pace.
If you haven’t got a friend that can help you, please get in touch. This is the reason I started my Running Buddy service, to help people who need some moral support, guidance and advice to help them get out running and improve.
Once you are confident in running, think about taking the plunge and joining a local running club. Most clubs have a beginners section and then groups of all abilities. Most clubs have a great social side and everyone is really friendly. We all remember that we were once new to running so people are always happy to provide help, advice and support.
Running with another person, or group, means that you are less likely to quit as you then become accountable (in a good way) to the arrangements you have made. It also helps when there is more than one person wearing lycra!
The internet is also a great place to find like-minded runners in your area. On Twitter there is an online group called UkRunChat (@ukrunchat or use the hashtag #ukrunchat). There are runners of all abilities happy to provide answers to any questions you have and also to find runners in your area.
Have a goal
Once you are happy that you can now a runner (in my mind there are no joggers – if you are not walking you are running) you can look at setting yourself a goal. One that I would recommend is doing a local parkrun (http://www.parkrun.org.uk/). These are free timed events taking place every Saturday morning in local parks around the country (and in many other countries around the world). There is no commitment to run; you just print out a barcode, turn up and get your time in an email later that morning. It is not a race; new runners are welcomed each week and there are always people who will run round with you for a chat. You are also guaranteed never to be last as they always have a tail-runner.
So after reading this I hope running now seems less daunting. If you have any ideas yourself that would help, please drop me a comment on Facebook or Twitter (icons at the bottom of the page). If you need any advice, or a plan, tailored to yourself, please drop me a message on Facebook or by email.
Finally, if you see another runner out on the streets, please be sure to smile and say hello; trust me it will brighten their, and your, day.
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