How to start running if you've never been a runner
It's time to forget the past. You may have bad memories of how hard it was the last time you ventured out to take on a run, getting carried away, taking off too hard and fast, left feeling breathless and done within minutes.
Just because past attempts have been hard or because you've thought of yourself as a non-runner your whole life doesn't mean you can't become one now.
Anyone can pick it up and although starting out may not be easy, rest assured your body and mind become stronger with each run.
The key is to simply build up gradually and keep up a regular routine. You're guaranteed to surprise yourself!
START OFF EASY
As with starting any new exercise regime it's important to take a gradual approach. Sometimes it can be tempting to up the ante, because you feel you can handle it, or you are just motivated and ready to improve.
However, it's important to remember that your muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments and joints all need time to adapt to the stresses of running. Doing too much, too soon can lead to overtraining and injury and this is a new habit you want to be able to maintain long term.
If you haven't run in years don't expect to be able to start off running a long distance without stopping or having a walking break – it is completely fine to do so. Your heart, lungs and muscles are adapting to new demands and as you continue to train these will all improve in function and strength and you will begin to use oxygen more efficiently, which in turn will make breathing feel much easier.
If you find yourself gasping for air remind yourself to relax, breathing is a natural thing and comes differently to different people and will become easier as your fitness improves.
Slow down a little and begin with walking breaks while you are starting out. Start with some walk/run intervals such as: one minute run/one minute walk, then build on this by increasing the run duration and reducing walk duration. Or mix it up and keep it simple by using trees or landmarks to pick out a distance you'll run to then the same for a walking break and continue.
FIND A RUNNING BUDDY OR GROUP
Grab a friend or a group of colleagues and get out there together. You'll be able to support and motivate one another and also hold one another accountable – making it much easier to get out there.
BUY A GOOD PAIR OF RUNNING SHOES
There are plenty of great looking sneakers out there these days but if you want to avoid injury and continue your new running regime it's important that you're fitted with a good pair of running shoes that are suitable for your foot type and running style from the start. If you go to a specialty running store they'll be able to assess your running gait and find the right pair for you.
Recovery really is just important as your workout as it allows the body to repair itself after the physical demands of exercise. Begin with running a few days a week ensuring you have a day off in between runs whilst starting out, then introduce new days gradually. The same goes with increasing volume and intensity – be sure to increase these gradually.
Make sure you stretch post run as this assists in the recovery process and will help reduce the amount of stiffness and soreness you experience along with helping your muscles and joints work more efficiently.
SET SOME GOALS
Setting a realistic goal will help keep you motivated and make you more likely to stick to your new running routine. Set a distance you'd like to be able to run non-stop within a month, aim to improve your time on a regular route, find an upcoming race to complete.
Races are a great way to stay challenged and have fun with a fantastic atmosphere of hundreds to thousands of supporters cheering you and your fellow runners along the way.
REFLECT ON HOW YOU FEEL POST RUN
The positive benefits of running are widely recognised, not only will you start to see physical changes in your body but you will also see an increase in energy and improvement in your mood. Be in touch with your body and make a conscious effort to take some time to reflect on how you feel after your run.
Starting out is always the hardest part, the first few runs will seem difficult but it will get easier with each run if you stick with it.