I joined an athletics club when I was just 9 years old, and have never really stopped since. At that age, you don’t really think about the benefits of running, or what you want to achieve, you’re just there to have fun and hang out with mates. So although I’ve never really been a ‘beginner’ runner as an adult, I’ve certainly had a lot of friends asking me questions about it and been able to watch their journeys from ‘couch to 5k’.
I’ve thought a lot about some of the most frequently asked questions from them and wanted to write down some of my top tips for anyone wanting to get into running….so here goes!
Make sure you’ve invested in a good pair of trainers. You don’t need to spend an absolute fortune on the most recent edition of branded trainers, but just make sure that they’ve got a good sole and are made for running and fitness. If you’re out in a pair that aren’t supporting you in the right way, you’re going to be doing more damage to your body than good…and that’s definitely not why you’ve decided to embark on a fitness journey.
Another thing to bear in mind, is that when you get your new pair of trainers, don’t head straight out for a run in them. Wear them to walk around the house or go for a short walk first. It just helps to break them in slightly before pounding the pavements.
Which trainers should I buy?
I’ve tried many different brands of trainers over the years (Asics, Nike, New Balance, Hoka to name a few!) and it really is about finding what suits you and your style the best. I can recommend and advise you on what I like and dislike about certain pairs, however it will be totally different for everybody as we all have unique running styles and shapes of feet.
The best way to find a good pair for you is to head to an actual store and ask them to review you running in different pairs on a treadmill. You can then test them out yourself, feel whether they’re comfortable or not, and they’ll be able to analyse how you’re striking the ground in them….try before you buy!
Top tip! Brands of trainers will keep releasing new versions of a particular range of shoe, for example, the Nike Pegasus. Similar to when new phones are released, when a brand releases a new version of that shoe, the previous version will then drop in price because it’s no longer the most current. That’s not to say it’s no longer a good shoe though, and more than likely will absolutely still do the job! This is a great way of saving a few pennies when looking for new trainers.
If you’re just starting out, don’t expect to be running back-to-back marathons within a month, training takes time, dedication and patience. You have to be realistic with the goals you set yourself and the time it’s going to take to build up to that. If this is literally your first time ever to properly lace up and head out for some good miles, then I’d aim to set yourself the target of doing a 5k, and maybe a month of training to get there. This may sound like a long time to some people, but that’s only 4 weeks and once you’ve subtracted any rest days, you’re looking at approximately 12-16 days of training to get you there. All of a sudden, it doesn’t seem like much time!
Top tip! Set yourself some mini targets within your bigger goals. For example, find a segment on your usual running route (this could be anything from one tree to another, or from a landmark to your front door etc) and try to continuously beat your best time on that segment. This might mean having to throw in a mini sprint during your run, but it’s a great way to keep the motivation levels high.
As with anything in life, if you want to be good at something, you have to work hard at it. It can also take a long time to build up your fitness, but it doesn’t take very long to lose it again so consistency is absolutely key. The days where you’re aching and your muscles are sore - they will be the hardest to motivate yourself - so make sure that rather than just giving up or skipping a session, you warm up, stretch, do some drills, anything it takes to feel good again, and then just take it a little bit easier and don’t go too hard on yourself. By training your mind in this way - that you can’t make excuses up when you’re not feeling it - you’ll notice that you progress much quicker.
Top tip! Keep a training diary and log all of your efforts. Write down the distance, where you went and how you felt. Being able to look back on how far you’ve come will give you confidence and make you want to stick to your newfound routine. It’s also a good way of remembering different routes!
Just because you want to get into running, it doesn’t mean all you have to do is run. Besides, this could get very boring after a while. Incorporate other sports/challenges into your weekly routine such as cycling, climbing, tennis, swimming etc, anything that raises your heart rate and most importantly, that you enjoy. Doing other sports will help you to work on different muscle groups as well. Running has a strong focus on your legs, glutes and core, but you don’t want to neglect the rest of your body. Diversifying your training and using a variety of muscle groups or working your leg muscles in different ways is a great way to strengthen your overall frame, which in turn will improve your running.
Top tip! Another great way to stay in shape for running is to do plenty of stretching and breathing exercises. Practising things like yoga and pilates are great for this and will help improve your mobility, form and balance.
Doing something new for the first time is always daunting, but doing it on your own can be so intimidating, it may even stop you from starting in the first place! Have a chat to a few of your friends and see if any of them are interested in coming along with you. Having a friend by your side whilst running, and someone to talk to about it when you’re not, is so much more comforting than trying to do it alone. I tend to listen to music or a podcast whilst running and I have a few friends who also like to do the same…it’s amazing how much more you enjoy the run with someone by your side, despite being in silence the whole time!
Top tip! If you haven’t got any friends that live close by and can join you on your runs, join a virtual running club (Team Rokman) through a website like Strava. This way you’ll be able to sync up your training with others, discuss how you were feeling, ask questions and support each other’s progress. You’ll soon find that there are so many people out there just like you!
If you have any further questions, or want to get in touch, please don’t hesitate to send me a message through instagram!