Feel the need to get a bit fitter? Thinking of giving running a go, but unsure how to start? Don’t worry – running is for everyone, whatever your age, size or speed. Here’s some advice to set you off on the right track.
First of all, invest in a decent pair of running shoes. Don’t just dig out any old pair of trainers to get started, as this can be a fast track to injury. The latest designs can cost upwards of £100 a pair, but there’s no need to spend a fortune. Outlet and discount stores often sell previous years’ models at a fraction of the full price. However, everyone’s feet are different so do make sure you try on a few different pairs until you find shoes that feel good and fit well.
Clothing, on the other hand, isn’t so important, so don’t feel you have to kit yourself out in fancy hi-tech gear. Anything that feels comfortable is fine to start with. A light waterproof jacket and hat are useful but not essential. For women, however, a good sports bra is essential.
How long should I run for as a beginner?
Don’t run too soon after a meal or you’ll probably end up with a stitch; leave it at least a couple of hours. If you haven’t eaten for a while before you run, have a light snack about an hour beforehand. A banana is the perfect energy booster.
Don’t do too much too soon. This is probably the most common error made by beginners, often resulting in injury and disappointment. It might even make you give up completely. Follow a structured beginner’s plan to keep you on track – the NHS Couch to 5K app is great. Speed doesn’t matter; keep the pace slow and remember that, if you feel the need, it’s fine to take a walk break.
Best techniques for new runners
If you struggle with motivation – or just enjoy company – try running with other people. You’re far more likely to go out if you’ve arranged to meet someone. There are friendly running groups virtually everywhere these days; visit www.runtogether.co.uk to find one near you. Or why not do a parkrun? These are free, weekly, timed 5k runs you can do with friends. Go to www.parkrun.org.uk for more details.
Don’t be afraid to join a running club. Once the domain of wiry men in racing shorts and vests, most are now much more inclusive and have welcoming beginners’ groups. You can usually attend for a couple of sessions to see if you like it before you join. Visit the UK Athletics website at www.uka.org to find your local club.
Setting a goal can really help to keep you going, and it doesn’t have to be a huge one – perhaps running your first mile or completing a parkrun? Or why not enter a 5k or 10k so you have an event to train for? You could even ask people to sponsor you on a charity run. And remember to reward yourself afterwards – you deserve it.
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