As simple as starting running may seem (you don't need much equipment or pay for a gym membership) it's not easy when you're a beginner. Running too quickly or for too long before your ready can result in injury. We put together some tips to help you begin your running journey!
1. Go really slow. And then slow down some more
It might sound counterintuitive but running slowly makes you faster in the long run.
You should be running slowly enough that you can have a conversation. Running at below 80% of your maximum heart rate for long periods of time actually trains your body to use energy more efficiently.
Lots of runners now follow the 80/20 method, as outlined by running expert Matt Fitzgerald. This essentially means that 80%, of your runs should be done at an easy pace, and 20% should be a more challenging run, like interval training.
2. Don’t get ahead of yourself
A classic mistake for a lot of runners is overtraining. When you’re new to something and feeling motivated, it’s tempting to overdo it.
Running can have a much bigger impact on your joints, and they need time to adapt.
Take it slow, and follow a training plan like couch to 5k. There are loads of different training plans out there and it’s worth following one, even if you think it might be too easy for you.
3. Warm up and cool down
You might just want to get straight into it, but it’s worth starting each run with a warm up, and ending each run with a cool down. Warming up and cooling down helps your muscles get ready, and prevents you from possibly getting injured.
It’s also really important to also stretch after you’ve finished your run - stretching promotes flexibility and helps you recover, so you can get on the road again as soon as possible!
4. Walk if you need to
There’s a reason that the majority of beginner training plans employ the run-walk-run method. It works.
The run-walk-run method helps your joints and muscles adjust, stops you burning out quickly and prevents injury. The key is to start walking before you’re fatigued from running. This helps you recover quickly, and means you’ll actually be able to cover more distance.
Jeff Galloway, the biggest proponent of the run-walk-run method even claims that marathon runners who walk finish 13 minutes faster than those who run the full distance.
5. Get the right shoes
You might think that you can just pick up a pair of trainers and get on your feet, but getting the right shoes for your gait is really important.
If you’re flat footed, shoes that are designed for your gait are really important to make sure you don’t hurt yourself. You can go to a proper running shop where a member of staff can analyse your gait and recommend the right shoes to make sure you land on your feet properly.
6. Cross-training is key
If you’re new to exercise, it’s good to not overload yourself with too much. But that doesn’t mean cross-training isn’t important.
It’s really important to have a strong core and strong glutes because strong muscles prevent injury, particular in your back, shoulders and knees. There are lots of strength and flexibility videos targeted at runners you can find online.