When you first start running it’s very easy to get things wrong and not make the kind of progress you’d like. There’s much more to running than simply putting on your trainers, going for a run, and just seeing how long you can run for.
That’s why many people don’t get the results they expect, and why they quickly become injured and disappointed when they start running. I love running and I love to see people take up running.
Here are 5 tips that show you how to start running and help you get off to a great start while remaining injury free.
1. Use proper running shoes
Running shoes are a vital piece of equipment for running. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a complete novice or an expert runner you simply must have a good pair of running shoes.
However, don’t just go to any old sports shop and choose trainers that look good or trainers that a shop assistant (who may have no knowledge or interest in running) recommends.
It’s far better to visit a specialist running shop (I like Run4It) where the staff are usually runners themselves and aren’t on any kind of commission. They can provide expert advice and recommend shoes that will be suited to your running style.
The right pair of running trainers will help keep you injury free and consistently running which is can be vital to any success of getting fitter and losing weight (if those are your goals).
2. Use a stop watch
When you start running it’s easy to just jog along without any real purpose or direction, not knowing how far you’re running, how long you’re running for, or whether you’re improving.
That’s why another important piece of equipment you should have is a stop watch. You can use this to measure your progress and identify whether you’re improving and by how much.
All you really need is a basic digital watch with a stop watch feature that has “start”, “stop”, and “reset” functions and you’re all set to go.
More advanced options would be a GPS device like a Garmin… I’ve got a Garmin 405. I can honestly say it’s changed the way I run. Spilts, maps, routes are all synced back to the computer once you’ve finished a run, and during a run your heart rate, speed and splits are available to help inform you when is good to push it or when to relax and recover.
3. Use running and walking
Starting with a mixed running and walking routine will help you run for a longer period of time overall and build your fitness quicker than if you were only doing continuous runs.
For example, rather than maybe doing a 5 minute run and then collapsing at the end it’s often better to include some walking. So you may try 10 x one minute runs with two minutes walking in between.
The walking periods give you time to recover which means that you are able to run for 10 minutes in total and burn twice the amount of calories than the 5 minute continuous run.
Then you aim to increase the amount of time in total that you run for, and reduce your walking periods. In the long term you should be able to get to what I call the magic 20 minutes running non stop. I beleive that once you can run for 20 minutes non stop, you can run forever. You just need to try.
After being able to run for 20 minutes non stop, I would try running 2 x 20 minutes, with a 5 minute walk break in between. Slowly reduce the recovery period until you continue past 20 minutes, to 30 and 40 and 45 minutes. Then try and run a 10k or for an hour. (This is how I started out and now I can run as far as I want!)
4. Take it steady
When you first start running it’s very easy to be too enthusiastic, push too hard, and quickly become injured. Your enthusiasm and motivation can plummet and you think that you’re just not cut out for running.
So take it steady at the start! Going from nothing, or little exercise, to suddenly pushing your body hard is a quick route to injury.
Try to get into consistent running (say three to five times a week, at similar times each week). Enjoy your running, and make it a habit at the start. I do my runs on a Monday morning before work, a Wednesday morning before work, Thursday night and Saturday morning (and I fit Spinfit in on a Tuesday and Basketball in on a Thurdsay). It’s all about habit and routine and making exercise a big part of my life.
Being consistent with your running week in week out is much better than one week of good running followed by two weeks injured and all the frustration that comes along with it.
5. Keep a training diary
Using a training diary is a great way to keep track of how your running is progressing as well as being a great motivator when you look back to see how far you’ve come.
A training diary also makes it easier to identify improvements or spot anything that you’re doing wrong.
For example, you may pick up an injury and by looking at your training diary you realise that you’ve been increasing the amount of running you’ve been doing too quickly.
Don’t think that you need to write pages and pages when updating your diary. You only need to make brief notes after each run. This should only take 5 minutes or less which is nothing compared to the benefits it will provide.
You might also want to dispay your achievements on social network sites or blogs to track your progress and allow you to get feedback and encouragement from friends. And, if you post on Facebook something like “I’m getting up for an early morning run”… you might be less likely to wimp out and not do it!
Putting it into practice
By using these tips you might avoid the same mistakes that many people make which leaves them frustrated and wondering where it all went wrong before they ever really got started.
Put these 5 tips into practice and you’ll already be well ahead of the pack, and you’ll be well on your way to making a positive and injury free start to your running.