Running is the best cardio vascular exercise known to man, all things considered. While swimming rowing and cycling are also great workouts costs associated with them (the equipment needed) makes them less accessible than running. All you need is a good pair of shoes, a road or trail and you’re off! Simple as running is; it is also a major competitive sport and those who have made running part of their fitness journey can attest to the addictive nature of the pursuit. Ask any runner if they’ve ever considered running a marathon (42.2km) and if they say ‘no’ then you’re not talking to a runner.
I’m going to share the top 5 tips for beginners who want to start running and what you should be aware of as you embark on this journey. These are not the only tips but these are the best tips to make sure beginners start well and stay running in the long run (pun intended).
- Just Be Out There
Running is largely a mental exercise. When I started running my goal was to be out there for 30 minutes. This is a really good way to start. If you give yourself a goal like mine, whether you feel (emotionally) like running or not just get out there. Even going out to walk or power walk counts. The purpose is to condition your mind to the idea of being out there and getting used to being on the road at a particular time.
- Use Intervals To Build Up
Intervals help you to build up endurance towards long distances. With my 30 minute goal I couldn’t run a straight 30 minutes at first. I employed the intervals technique as follows:
1 minute runs alternating with 1 minute power walks
Then 2 minute runs alternated with 1 minute power walks
Then 3 minute runs alternated with 1 minute power walks
Then 4 minute runs alternated with 1 minute power walks
Then 5 minute runs alternated with 1 minute power walks
Then 7 minute runs alternated with 1 minute power walks
Then 10 minute runs alternated with 1 minute power walks
Then full 30 minutes
The logic is to get your body used to being active for that long and it really works. Most beginners make the mistake of ‘power walking’ when they are tired but scheduling it according to time helps to regulate your breathing and blood flow helping the body carry through the run. I was doing 4 runs a week and because I measured the distance and pace using a phone application; I would switch up to the next level when I saw my distance increase significantly. Roughly every 2 weeks.
- Measure it
In the words of Peter Drucker ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it’. Thanks to technology we have multiple options. Your very smart phone equipped with a running application is enough to let you know your distance, pace (speed), splits (time for each km/mile) and even elevation (uphill climb). These days we have smart and health watches that can give you even more stats like heart rate and other data. By measuring you will know what you’re doing and how well you’re doing it. Keeping a record helps you to analyse your progress over the long run. More information will always help you to do it better.
- Good running shoes.
The important thing is a good set of shoes that gives you support and cushions the impact to your soles and knees. Running shoes are not really pricey and depending on where you are they can be quite easily found. While other athletic shoes are good I really recommend a shoe designed for running.
- Stretch and rest
There are articles on both stretching and resting you can find on this fitness blog. A large part of your performance is all about conditioning and these 2 simple things are the things that will best boost your condition for your runs. There will be pain as you learn to run but it can be mitigated. Rest is a part of the plan, not something you do when you can’t go on. As for stretching, in addition to those pre and post run stretches you need to employ an all day approach to stretching. I recommend 3 times a day on the worst days but twice (before sleep and after waking) should do the trick.
Finally a great bonus tip is to find a running community or family to work with. It always helps to have like minded people to work with on your goals. Making friends who do the same will boost you in the good times and the bad. So give it a try, come run with us!
Article penned by Fitness Beard