How to Start Running: A Runner's Guide
Running can be started anywhere, anytime, and benefits the mind and body with great health benefits, balancing the stresses that come with life and work, boosting your immune system, and more are all ideas that have become universally recognised. However, for those who are trying running for the first time, starting to run can be a bit confusing and unsettling, and you may ask yourself: how should I start? What do I need to prepare? How do I make a sensible plan? Don't worry, here we've put together a few running guides - containing some simple steps and advice to help you start and maintain your running habit.
Let's take a look at this guide:
1. Choose the right equipment
Unlike other sports, one of the great things about running is that you don't need a lot of kit to get started. However, whilst it may seem like all you need is a pair of running shoes, there are a number of other items that can make your running journey more enjoyable and productive. Here are a few things to consider before you start running:
Professional running shoes
Whether you already own an old pair of running shoes or not, if you really want to start a running programme, you need to invest in a good pair of running-specific shoes.
The type of shoe you choose should match your athletic ability and goals, and fit well while still being somewhat fashionable, which is important when you are just starting to develop an interest in running. Of course, as you begin to run, you can start choosing more specific running shoes.
You can run in any old shorts and a basic t-shirt. But the truth is, the more you run, the more you'll appreciate the technical moisture-wicking fabrics designed for runners. Choose lightweight clothing that you can carry with you in your bag, making it easy for you to run anywhere, anytime. They can keep you cool and dry in hot weather, and they won't cause too much chafing on your skin. You should also consider wearing a hat if you run in the sun, and if you're a woman, a proper pair of sports underwear is an absolutely essential investment.
Heart rate monitor
Whilst heart rate zone training may be more suited to intermediate and advanced runners, heart rate monitors and GPS watches can also be a useful tool for beginners starting out. As well as tracking the time and mileage of your workouts, a good heart rate monitor can provide you with information such as calories burned and advice on how long you need to recover between workouts.
If you don't have a GPS watch, then a Bluetooth heart rate monitor can also connect to a mobile sports app to record your heart rate, heart rate data can better help you reach your goals, and if you don't know what the data is good for, you can ask a running coach to help you analyse and develop a suitable running plan.
2. Music is always inspiring
When beginners start running, you will need to overcome many mental obstacles as the distance increases. Listening to music while running can help you relax (please pay attention to traffic conditions), and your favourite music can motivate you to keep going better.
3. Make a plan
As you start to add running to your weekly must-dos, making a plan will help you stay consistent and avoid injury. Where you'll run, how often and how far you'll run all need to be determined in advance - remember, you can always make adjustments based on how you feel.
These basics are good rules to follow as you begin to incorporate a running workout plan into your weekly workouts:
The temptation when you first head out the door will be to run for as long as possible. The problem is that the more you do this, the more likely you are to get injured and sore, which may stop you from running for the rest of the day.
Instead, start with a walking routine that includes a small amount of running. Do this even if it feels easy!
Depending on your health, your first workout should look like the following:
30 minutes of exercise, alternating 3 to 4 minutes of walking with 1 minute of running.
Gradually increase the total workout time and shorten the walking time over the next few weeks.
According to running coach Nick Anderson, you should also consider some strength and recovery exercises to help you avoid some common injuries.
Gradually increase mileage
The main goal of any good running programme should be to remain injury-free. If you get injured in the first few weeks after you start running, your chances of sticking with it are significantly reduced.
For this reason, it's best to start slowly and remain patient, increasing your weekly mileage at a pace your body can handle. Whilst you should feel some soreness, you need to listen to your body and incorporate rest days into your daily routine to give your body time to recover.
According to running coach John Honerkamp, your goals should first include a walking/running programme 3 days a week. Make sure you also have two rest days and two days of low-impact cross-training (stationary bike, elliptical or rowing machine).
Then, increase your total walking/running mileage by no more than 10 per cent per week, while gradually starting to focus on your running technique, such as stride frequency.
Whether your goal is to lose weight or run a 5K, you need to start eating a balanced diet that provides your body with the energy it needs to support your increased exercise exertion.
While you don't need to go crazy with sports drinks or energy gels at this stage of your training, your body needs plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein to recover properly. Try to stay away from processed foods and excess sugar or other foods that can cause a big spike in your blood sugar levels.
Skipping meals or eating an unbalanced diet can make you feel sluggish and make getting out the door for a run more difficult. Here's a basic breakdown of where calories come from at each meal :
- Half of your calories should come from vegetables, fruit, rice and lentils - also known as complex carbohydrates.
- 30 per cent of calories should come from healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil and nuts.
- 20 per cent of calories should be lean proteins such as fish, chicken and eggs.
- Make sure you drink plenty of water and take a balanced multivitamin.
-Rest and Recovery
Make sure your plan includes enough rest days and recovery time. This will help your body adapt to the new amount of exercise and prevent overwork and injury.
4. Stay positive
Running can be difficult, especially in the beginning. However, it is vital to stay positive. Always remember that every run is a victory, no matter how far or fast you run. Don't be too hard on yourself, but rather appreciate your decision to make changes and work hard.
5. Running partner
Having company always makes running more fun and easier. Find a friend or family member to join your running programme with, or join a local running club. This will not only give you company during your run, but also motivate and encourage each other.
6. Consult a professional
If you have any health problems or are unsure if you are fit for high-intensity exercise, consult a professional (e.g. a doctor or trainer) for advice.
Running, as an activity you can start anytime, anywhere, has long been more than just a sport, it's a way of life. Through running, you can forge your body and sharpen your mind. It's more of a way to challenge yourself, break through, and ultimately change yourself. If you have been looking for a healthy, active and meaningful lifestyle, then running is definitely worth trying and sticking to. Hopefully, this running guide has provided you with some insight and help to get you started on your interest in running and begin to give this great sport a try.