Running for Beginners
After throwing myself in at the deep end and running 5 marathons in one month from being in the worst shape of my life I thought I would throw together a quick Guide about Running for Beginners.
Benefits of Running
Running is free, it requires only a pair of shoes burns more calories and you can do it anywhere. Health benefits of running are absolutely fantastic. Risk of long-term illnesses are reduced. Mood is definitely boosted and you can even lose weight without changing your diet. This is aimed at new runners who want to stay in shape or improve their fitness but are a little unsure of where to start.
Wanting to run for fitness in another activity, it is a great Idea. However, you should try to fall in love with running as an activity in itself. This will keep you motivated and get you up and out more. When running for any other purpose it is easy to treat it as a necessary evil. Make effort to push yourself but not to the point of hyperventilating or breathing hard. This is too far, especially as a beginner. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money on some great new running shoes and give it up after 2 miles.
My relationship with running
Over my life, I have taken up running a few times. Where I personally went wrong was immediately trying to run with others, trying to go too fast, running for a different purpose. This time I learnt to embrace running as an enjoyable activity of its own. This was definitely a game changer for me. In just 2 weeks I felt mentally and physically better. Furthermore I raised a significant amount of money for a great charity. Lastly I would be lying to say I didn’t develop a love for running.
In my head I had a lot of excuses as to why I don’t run, including but not limited to
- Broken left foot
- I’m just not built for it
- Back pain
- I get shin splints
- Broken right leg
- Don’t have time
- Need to walk the dog
When facing reality none of these were actually an issue. By throwing myself in at the deep end and signing up to run further than I thought for charity I made myself get out and run. My challenge was to cover distance over a month. I picked a distance that I thought was a challenge but achievable. Motivated not to run in bad weather I got out while the weather was good and did my month’s distance in only 10 days. I carried on running to almost triple my intended goal. My advice is not to do what I did, I was lucky to not pick up an injury !
Before you start…
If you haven’t been active for a while you may want to go really easy. Gently build up your fitness with walks to get you moving. Remember this is not a race and the only person you are competing against is yourself. Little improvement weekly is all you should be aiming for.
The best thing you can do to reduce some of the pain and add a level of comfort is get fitted properly for a new pair of running shoes by an expert. Without doubt these are the best investment. Shoes do weaken and wear out over time. Experts recommend replacing your shoes every 300 to 400 miles.
Make sure to plan your runs, if it was too hard try running slower or for a shorter distance. Find a comfortable level and increase gradually from there. Planning your runs helps you stay motivated and helps to keep you going.
If you feel any new pain that causes concern or have health issues beforehand you should consult a GP for advice.
Starting Running for Beginners…
Enjoy the experience and avoid injury by starting slowly. Ease yourself in gently and gradually. It is no use to exhaust or injure yourself on the first outing.
I like to start each run by stretching and then a gentle warm up walk, you can run at a slow pace, march on the spot, whatever you feel comfortable with.
When you start running you can always go back to a recovery walking pace, you will need to get your body used to running for longer durations and distances. This is something that will take work and you’ll need to build over time. Some days you will feel amazing and what to just keep going, others will be a struggle.
It is better to run 2 or 3 times in a week than to run 7 days and not again for a month. Consistency is key here. Try to make a running routine and stick to it as much as you can. Couch to 5K is good and works for some people but I found it just didn’t ever work for me.
Running for beginners can be hard but will pay off if you can learn to enjoy running, stay motivated and lastly stay consistent.
The things I found that help me run are:
- Boost to my mental state
- Improved fitness
- Photos of what I see along the way
- Using apps such as Strava to track any gains
- Weight loss
You may find a slightly different set of things that help you run but these are probably top for me.
There are many great running clubs all over the country, If you want to gain a bit of confidence, advice and new friends these are great places to start. They can help get you out and running with other people regularly and help improve your performance.