I really enjoy running, and when I tell people that I run they usually have two reactions. Normally they ether tell me I’m mental and that they hate running, or they tell me that they’d love to be able to run and don’t really know where to start.
With this in mind, I wrote a few casual tips I picked up while learning to run! I’m no expert, and still feel relatively novice even though I’ve been running over two years now, but I didn’t find getting into running easy so maybe these tips can help.
1. Buy some kit… but don’t spend a fortune
If you’re not sure if you’re going to keep running in the long term, don’t spend a fortune on your running kit. Make sure you have some comfortable quick-drying clothes and some comfortable trainers. Although some high-spec trainers will be a good investment in the long term, you don’t want to spend on £100s on kit that’s going to live in the bottom of your wardrobe forever more! Try supermarkets and discount sporting goods stores for some bargains. I personally like H&M ladies running kit, and their stuff comes in plus sizes, too. I also find getting some gel insoles for your trainers will help with some extra cushioning.
2. Don’t be afraid to walk
When you first start running, even if you are reasonably fit in day to day life, it can be difficult to run long distances without stopping to walk. And that’s ok! Some people even run/walk whole marathons, which is called the Galloway method. A good way to improve your runs is to challenge yourself to run further and further without walking every time you go out for a run. When I started running, I would often have a 10-second ‘breather’ and start again. These got less and less common the more I ran and the more my stamina improved.
3. Don’t compare yourself to other people
I remember when I first started running, I often saw a lady running around Howden who seemed to go for miles and miles with ease. I used to see her out of my window and wonder how she did it! Then one day I noticed she was wearing a Paris Marathon T-Shirt! A novice was never going to find running as easy as a marathon runner. Remember the old saying… It doesn’t matter how slow you go, you’re still beating everyone on the sofa!
4. Start a couch to 5k programme…
You can find lots of beginner running programmes on websites, and also on apps like Couch 2 5k. The NHS also do a Couch to 5k podcast available on iTunes. These will allow you to schedule runs across several weeks, which will aid your stamina and speed. I started a 5k plan when I started running in April 2013, and am still following a training programme now I’m training for the Great North Run.
5. …And when you’ve completed it do a parkrun!
When you’re ready to do a 5k run, even if you are still walking some of the way (or even most of the way) head to your nearest park for a run! There is an official Parkrun at Goole West Park on a Saturday morning at 9am, and there is also a 5k run with local fitness group Team Fit 24 at the park on a Saturday morning just after 9am.
6. Listen to your body
Running can be hard, but if you have any dizziness, faintness or queasiness don’t be afraid to stop! Also, if you have any injuries let them heal fully before you begin again, as if you run on an injury you might end up with something even more serious and be out of action for many weeks or months.
7. Sign up for a race
Some good motivation can come from signing up for a race. Whether it’s a girls-only 5k, an obstacle run, a colour run or even a zombie run, an upcoming race can be great motivation to put the training in, and the medal at the end will make it all feel worthwhile. Also, running for a charity or cause close to your heart can also be good motivation.
8. Make a running playlist
Some people like running with music, while others like peace and quiet on their runs. I love running to music, it focusses me and helps the time go by on long runs! I like to mix things up with a blend of energetic songs on my playlist, but whether it’s Metallica, Avicii or Taylor Swift that keeps you going, a long running playlist can sometimes get you through the toughest of runs.
9. Set small goals, and reward yourself when you get there
Your goal might be to make it to a full mile without walking, or to run a mile in 12 minutes, or to complete 5k in 30 minutes, but when you get there, reward yourself! I like to reward myself with an ice lolly straight out of the freezer after long runs when it’s hot, and with warm bubble baths when it’s cold out! But your treat could be some fast food, some new clothing, or just a pint of beer or a glass of wine at the end of the day. But whatever it is, make note of how your hard work is paying off!
10. Enjoy yourself!
Running isn’t for everyone. There are lots of benefits over other sports, such as it being free, and you can run straight outside your front door, but overall you should not only get something from it but enjoy it as well! If you find you really aren’t falling in love with it, you might enjoy zumba more, you might prefer squash, you might simply prefer nights on the sofa with a film! So if you find you’ve given it a good go and still really aren’t enjoying it, maybe life is just too short to carry on. Now aren’t you glad you didn’t buy those £100 trainers?!