Beginners guide to running

Global Running Day is a worldwide celebration of running that encourages people of all ages and abilities to get moving (7th June 2023). If you’ve never ran before and want to get started, have a look below at our top ten tips to help you feel more confident with your running shoes on.

  1. It’s never too late to start.

It’s never too late to get your trainers on and get moving more. However, if you haven’t run before and aren’t already active, it’s best to start small. Apps like Couch to 5K are a great way to get your body used to running in a safe and sustainable way. While it’s tempting to get out the door and start sprinting, you’ll be able to run for longer, stay injury free and enjoy yourself more if you start adding 60-second runs to your regular walks and gradually increase the time you spend running. If you struggle with mobility or knee/hip/ankle injuries, try walking each day rather than running.

  1. Comfort is key.

When you first start running, you don’t need anything more than a pair of trainers and some comfortable, easy to move in clothing (like an old t-shirt and some leggings or sweat pants). As you start to run more, it may be worth investing in a pair of new trainers; as they will support you and help you stay injury free. If you take up running as a hobby, it’s also worth getting some running specific clothing that wick moisture away from the skin – many supermarkets now have their own reasonably priced ranges.

  1. Take it easy.

When you first start out it’s best to run at an ‘easy’ pace – but this is different for everyone! The best way to determine this is if you can hold a conversation whilst running – this means being able to give complete answers when you’re running, not just a yes or no!

  1. Remember to breathe!

Breathing for running is much like breathing when you’re doing any sports. Use both your nose and your mouth to breathe in, then your mouth to breathe out fully. If you find yourself struggling for breath, slow your pace down a little. It can be easy to hold your breath or forget to control it while exercising, try to keep this in mind to help you out.

  1. Food is fuel.

You should try not to run just after eating as it can give you a stitch or cramp, but running on empty can cause you to fatigue. The best time to eat is one – two hours before running; eat something high in carbohydrates and low in fat, protein and fibre. A slice of wholemeal toast and peanut butter, hummus and pitta bread or a banana and glass of milk are all good snacks. Very rich, fatty and fibre filled foods may cause tummy upsets when you run, as may drinking coffee.

  1. Rest days are just as important.

Some people like to run every day as part of their exercise regime, however if you’re just starting out it’s a good idea to give your body some time off between each run. This will help with your recovery and protect you against injury. If you start to train seriously for a longer run like a 10k, then you’ll need to build rest days into your training plan.

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

You need to hydrate before, during and after your runs. Drink roughly a pint to a pint and a half of water an hour before you run and go to the loo if you need to! Take a drink with you and then continue to drink after you stop. You don’t need to drink sports drinks, which are often full of sugar – unless you’re running a long race (like a half marathon) and need to replace the carbohydrates you’re using.

  1. Take it inside.

Many people don’t like running outside, especially in the winter when it’s cold, wet and dark. Run where you feel safe and happy – for some people that’s the park, others it’s on a treadmill at the gym. You can run wherever and whenever suits you.

  1. Have a goal in mind.

A 5k is a good aim for a beginner to work towards. Many gyms and parks have their own races for all abilities and ages. Having a goal to focus on means you’ll be more likely to keep up your running and it will help you to improve steadily.

  1. Get others involved!

Running as a family is a good way to keep everyone healthy. It also helps keep you motivated and adds a little friendly competition into the mix. Just make sure you keep at the same pace and are supportive of each other.  If you’re all different abilities, why not join a running club or run on adjacent treadmills at the gym? If you live in an area where there is a local park run these are very family friendly and welcome new participants of all levels.

If you’re thinking of taking up running, we hope these tips have helped. But, the most important advice we can give you is to just have fun!

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