With it being a January unlike any other, I’m really pleased to see so many people are lacing up their trainers and starting their running journey so I thought I’d give you a beginners guide to starting running. A lot of this isn’t rocket science but sometimes it helps to read it in a guide to keep you on track and keep you moving even when it’s dark, cold and damp outside.
First off – starting running in January can be pretty grim – like I said before its freezing, dark, rains a lot, icy, etc so you’re doing amazingly well to even be contemplating starting something new. But turn that negativity into a positive in that if you can run through January, when you’re an actual runner in feb/march time, it’ll be so much easier! Plus that smug feeling you get after running in this weather is multiplied by a million! You’re lapping everyone on the couch remember…
1 – Just Get Out There – stop procrastinating about doing it and just get those trainers on, get the couch to 5k app downloaded and just go for it. The biggest thing about getting started is establishing the habit. Forget about pace and distance and just focus on time – at the start, it’s all about duration and slowly stretching out those runs. Ideally try for 3 runs per week but make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard – if it takes you more than 8-10 weeks to get to 5k, then so be it.
2 – Make time – trying to fit anything in right now seems impossible with the constraints of work, homeschooling and everything else in between but get your exercise planned in your diary. Treat it like an important appointment that cant be put off or moved. It’s also really important for you to get a break from it all at the minute so even if you only go out for 15 mins, its better than nothing. Better for your body and your mind!
3 – Warm Up – Ensure that you’re warming up before you start running. The more you warm up and the better you cool down will ensure that your new hobby will not be cut short due to injury. A good warm up makes it easier to get going and also keep going. The simplest (and most effective) warm up is doing 10 – 15 of the following – high knees, bum kicks, jumping jacks, squats and lunges before you leave the house and then walk for a few minutes before starting your run.
4 – Steady Progress – Downloading a training schedule, joining a beginners running club or simply using the NHS Couch to 5k app are all brilliant ways of making steady progress. They will all ensure that you build up your running intervals slowly and steadily so each week you move towards your goal. If you go out and try to run 5k without progressing towards it – first off it will be horrible and the least enjoyable thing ever, secondly it will most likely end up in some sort of injury and thirdly it is (probably) unsustainable!
5 – Cool Down – It’s so important to cool down post run. Don’t just stop running, open the front door and go straight into parenting mode. Walking for 2 – 3 mins post run is a great way to stabilise your heart rate and for your body to clear out any metabolic waste that you’ve created during your efforts and then when you get home, make sure you stretch.
The most common injuries for people starting running is with their calfs – tight calfs can have a huge impact on your legs – can lead to shin splints, foot pain, knee pain, etc. It’s the same with your gluts – the pain can radiate down and show up elsewhere if you don’t stretch out enough. Foam rollers are epic for runners – there’s loads of YouTube videos out there to show you what you need to do and you don’t need to spend more than £10-15 on one so they’re a great investment. Don’t get one with nobbles on it though – get a smooth one, the nobbly ones are evil!!
6 – Hang in There – Don’t feel deflated by a bad run – absolutely everyone has them, even the most experienced of runners. Some days you’ll feel amazing and some days it will feel like a slog. Remember success isn’t determined by one day but by a collection of them all together. On those tough run days, have a think about where you were and where you are now and give yourself a confidence boost.
7 – Go on Record – Keep a running diary or download an app to keep track of your progress. This comes in especially handy on those bad run days when you can look back and see where you were and the achievements you have made in such a short space of time.
Having a record enables you to have some insight into what’s working and what’s not, where your favourite routes are and also track where you’re up to in terms of your goal. You can also be really geeky and track what you’ve eaten pre/post run and can see if that has any impact on how you get on…might be for when you get more into it though.
8 – Tune in – I adore running with music – losing yourself in your fave tunes in an eclectic playlist is just the tonic after a tough day (or a day home schooling!!) If you’re running outside, keep the volume low so you can hear the traffic and ensure you’re aware of your surroundings. Or invest in a pair of aftershox headphones which are expensive but worth every penny – they’re bone conducting so sit in front of your ears so you can hear music but also hear everything else. I was a sceptic at first but they are absolutely amazing!
9 – Buddy Up – Things are better in pairs! An exercise partner can hugely improve the odds that you’ll stick with your routine. Organising a run with someone and knowing they’re waiting for you is the best motivation ever to get yourself out the house – you don’t want to let anyone else down. I cant even think about how many times I’d have turned around or switched off my alarm if I hadn’t pre-planned meeting someone. Plus, running flies when you’re chatting to a friend!
10 – Remember you’re a runner – No matter how much time you put in and whether you run the whole way or have to walk a bit, you’re a runner. If you laced up your trainers and got out the house, you’re a runner. Never forget that.
So there you go, my guide to getting going. Hope it helps those of you procrastinating about how to get started and fingers crossed it gives you the nudge to get yourself out the door
I’ll have new beginners run club starting in March so if you don’t get out there before hand and fancy being a fair weather runner, get in touch to go on the list (although we are in Manchester so I cannot guarantee the better weather!!)