How to run and enjoy it!

In the past few months I’ve been helping quite a few people start to run.  Starting out running can be a bit daunting.  Firstly you don’t know how your body will react when you start running and secondly, it’s all new to you so you sometimes don’t know if what you’re doing is right or not.

Here are the main concerns I’ve heard from beginner runners:

Always out of breath > Feeling sick > Get a side stitch > Don’t like it > Want to give up.

It doesn’t have to be this way though.  Starting out running can be tough, but if you take your time, do a walk run plan, be positive and believe in yourself, you will be able to overcome any hurdles (so to speak) and you’ll be able to run.  It won’t be tough, it’ll become easy (and fun!)

It might not happen overnight, and I’d always suggest doing a progressive 6-8 week walk run plan to get you up and running before taking on running any more than 30 minutes non stop.

Everyone is different though, so whilst one person might need a walk run plan for 8 weeks, another might get up and running in 2-4 weeks.

See more here: Run > Beginners
And here: How to get up and running
And here: Get off the treadmill and run outside
And here: How to run faster (and slower) & Q How to run faster
And here:Rest and recovery: 5 posts
And here: Are you a positive or negative person?
And here: Running in the rain anyone?

There are some common reasons people give up running when they first take it up.  I’d love anyone who starts running to keep on running, so here are some ways to beat the feelings of wanting to give up:

If you can’t talk in full sentences when you run, you’re running too fast.  Run one minutes and walk one minute for 10 minutes.  Shift to a 2:1 run:walk ratio for the next 10 minutes.  Do whatever you feel like for the last 10 minutes of your session.

Starting out too fast can lead to an increase in muscle waste products (such as lactic acid) that can make you feel sluggish.  Head out slowly and always remember that no pace is too slow.  Everyone has their own pace and try not to feel pressured to go any faster than you want to.

don't give up!Multi task: replace your evening commute with a run home; run around the park when you take your kids out to play; or if you have a home treadmill, run while you’re waiting for your dinner to cook or while your clothes are in the washing machine.

Establish a mission for every run.  Try and have a goal for each run: run for longer before you need to walk, push yourself that little bit further than you did on your last run.  Don’t try to run too fast, but maybe keep running for 4 minutes instead of 3, or pick a landmark to run to before you recover by walking.  Run your regular loop back to front, or loop different streets, or get a friend to join you.

Once a week, run four laps of a track or a small loop.  Time yourself.  Try to beat the previous time.  Every other week, slow down your long run and increase the distance by up to half a mile.  Seeing your mileage add up and your times go down will probably rekindle your motivation.

And I can't stand a liarEveryone feels tired now and again.  You were up late the night before, and you’ve been at work all day. You have a run planned for after work, but since 3 o’clock your energy levels have dipped.  All you want to do is sit on the couch and watch telly.  You can do this!  You can do the run you’ve planned.  All you need to do is get your running gear on and get out the door.  If it helps, set yourself a time goal to be out of the door by (i.e. 18:30 – or 6:30am if you’re running in the morning).  Make the run more important than the excuse you’re making up not to do it.

I <3 RunningIf you’re not up to running the distance you planned, just tell yourself you’re going to run for 10-20 minutes.  Once you’re out it will feel easier and you’ll probably have a great run.  You’ll be energised and refreshed and you’ll be glad you dragged yourself out the door for a run.

One thing I would advise any aspiring runner to do is invest in a heart rate monitor.  It doesn’t need to be an expensive Garmin one (although I will say that a Garmin GPS device with heart rate monitor could just be the best running purchase you will EVER make)… you can buy a good Timex (or other) heart rate monitor for about £50.

Running to your heart rate allows you to check how hard you are working and allows you to keep your heart rate within specific zones.

There are three zones to be aware of when running:

Aerobic: Easy running: it feels easy, you can take in the world around you. You feel comfortable and you are enjoying it. Able to hold a conversation.
Effective: Steady paced running: it feels comfortable, but you know you are working.  Able to hold a conversation.
Anaerobic: Hard speed work: all you can think about is how hard you are working, you can’t take in much of the environment around you and you can’t chat. Ideally done over short bursts.

To find out your heart rate zones to work in, go here:

Heart Rate Training Zones Calculator

Ideally for any easy runs you want to be staying either within the Aerobic Zone, or at the highest the Effective Zone.

For any speedwork you can go up to the top of the Anaerobic zone, but do not do this kind of work too much in a week and be aware of when you should be taking it easy… and make sure you take it easy by checking your heart rate.  You might get to this zone if you do any races where you push yourself to go as fast as you can.  But you may feel sick and you might not enjoy it too much when you’re doing it.  🙂

See more about the Heart Rate Training Zones and how you should feel here.
Here’s where I used my heart rate to monitor how I was doing on a 33 mile ultramarathon.
Finally here’s where I got my theory on Heart Rate training from.


I already mentioned Garmins and Timex heart rate monitors… and here are the ones I’d suggest:

Garmins GPS watches with heart rate monitors: well worth the investment, entry level is the Garmin 110 for £120 on Amazon (mens 110 / womens 110).

Positives: It comes with GPS so you can see how far you run, Garmin Connect so you can look back at your runs and see all the stats for them, it can be a great motivator and help you to become a better runner.

You can get graphs and maps so that you can review your runs and share them with others if you want to.  (See what you can do with a Garmin 610) – Garmin Training Effect is an extension of the Heart Rate Monitor which is a good guide too).

Negatives: You might not want to spend £100+ on a Garmin, but it will be well worth it!

See here for my Garmin recommendations.

Non GPS Heart Rate Monitors: You can track your heart rate as you run and time your runs.

Positives: A simple device to help monitor your heart rate.  If you aren’t interested in distance, stats, graphs, gadgets, this might be the way to go.  After your run it will most likely show calories burned average heart rate and maximum heart rate for your run. Will time your runs if you want to.

Negatives: Can be quite simple, with limited output (limited graphs or stats).  No tracking of distance or pace.

Here is the non GPS Heart Rate Monitor I’d recommend. (The one in the picture is my one which rrp’d at £80 when I got it in 2009).


1. Build your running up slowly so that you enjoy it.
2. Never get to the point where you are out of breath or feeling sick.
.3. Run at your own pace and try to enjoy it.
4. Follow this rule: Run until you feel tired, walk until you feel guilty.
5. If it gets hard, slow your pace down a bit or walk.
6. Lift your head up, look around you, try to enjoy the environment you are in. Take big breaths in through your mouth and try to smile.
7. Everyone’s different: run at your own pace and check your heart rate to make sure you’re not working too hard. Slow your pace if you are.
8. Remember when you run up hills, it is harder than running on flat, so you might want to slow down a bit.
9. When you run down hills, relax and take advantage of the hill by opening your legs up and letting gravity help you to the bottom.
10.Running regularly (say 3-4 times a week) is better than running 6 times a week, then doing nothing for 3 weeks.
11. Rest and recovery is important.
12. Try to enjoy running: enjoy the outdoors, the rain, the wind, the sun.
13. If you get a stitch, slow your pace down or walk to recover, think about your breathing to try to regulate it (4 counts in, 3 counts out).
14. To prevent injury, get your gait tested and get a pair of running trainers from a running store (I like Run4It).
15. Try running with others for company: before you know it you’ll have chatted the whole way and forgotten you are running.
16. Think of others who can’t run (illness or injury) and get out the door and run.
17. If you’re finding it hard, always remember how far you’ve come and where you want to be (your goal).
18. If it’s raining – don’t avoid your run. Wear a cap, and a few layers and you’ll be fine. It’ll be invigorating, refreshing and your skin IS waterproof!
19. You can do it, you just need to train to run regularly, believe in yourself and do it.
Stand Up For Your Feet20. No matter how slow you go, you are lapping everybody who’s sitting on the couch!

If you use your heart rate to run, you will get to know what your natural pace is where you are running comfortably, so that in time, you won’t need to check your heart rate all the time.

now to just get on with itAt the start it can really help you get to know how your body deals with running, and how you can run to get the best from it without feeling like you want to die, be sick or give up!

Go on invest in one, and if you have any questions, get in touch with me.

This entry was posted in Heart Rate, Motivation, Pacing, Run, Running Coach, Speedwork, Top 10s. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How to run and enjoy it!

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