Running is one of the world’s most enjoyable pursuits. That’s why hundreds of millions of people around the world do it. And, everyday, more and more of us are turning to running as an effective and fun way of keeping fit and active.
But for those new to the sport, getting started isn’t always easy, especially in the early days. That's why we've come up with a selection of tips and tricks to help you start as you mean to continue - the right way.
Start slower than you think
Take a sensible route into your runs with some slow-paced jogging to get you going. And when we say slow, we mean slow.
The benefits of this are three-fold: it will help to prevent injury as your body adjusts to your new routine; it will keep your motivation high when each run is not a punishing affair that leaves you psychologically dreading the next time you lace up; and even gentle runs promote cardio-vascular and muscular-structural development.
So, really. Don’t worry about pace – especially in the early days of your running career. Just getting used to the new challenges you’re presenting your body is more than enough to deal with.
Invest in the right gear
Take away as many possible hurdles to maintaining your habit. The right gear will keep you happy, content and comfortable while you’re racking up the miles. Here are four great pieces to start your running collection:
Leave some in the tank
Author Ernest Hemingway famously told authors to finish each day’s work midway through a sentence. He believed that by not reaching the end of their thoughts, they’d have something to pick up and start with the next day. And a similar principle applies with running, too.
Always aim to finish each run when you still want to do more. Don’t run yourself to physical and psychological exhaustion. Remember: it’s meant to be fun.
Define why you run
Are you trying to lose five kilos in the next six months? Want to feel a little fitter and stronger? Maybe you’re aiming to complete your first marathon this time next year?
Whatever your reason for running, make sure you take a few moments to clearly define it in your head. When the dark, wet nights of winter arrive, you’ll be glad you did as it will act as a great motivation to get you out of the door and into your stride.
The beauty of running is its simplicity. One foot in front of the other, taking in the sights and filling your lungs with a taste of the outdoors.
But an early running analysis can have big payoffs, especially if you intend to get serious about running. Mastering your technique before bad habits become ingrained will put you on the path to fulfilling your potential. How far you go is up to you.
Be aware of your surroundings
If you’ve used treadmills, the rhythmic beat of music might feel like a natural running partner. Out on the roads, though, it's a different story.
Without headphones you’ll be able to give your full concentration to the sounds around you, including potential traffic hazards. If you prefer to run to music or listen to a podcast, stay vigilant and avoid any noise canceling settings.
Running to your own rhythm can help you focus on key aspects like your breathing and your pulse. Starting to understand your heart rate zones will take a bit of time. But it’s key to unlocking aerobic zone training (where you maximize your ability to burn fat) and anaerobic zone training (where you rely on your glycogen reserves).
Mix it up – but not too much
Maintaining interest and enthusiasm is key in the early days, so a great running tip is to make sure your training takes in plenty of different routes. Variety can prevent boredom seeping in during the crucial period when going running is switching from a conscious effort to a fully-formed habit.
Yet, at the same time, a handful of repeated routes is still necessary. It’s only by running the same paths that you’ll get the motivational benefits of being able to track your progress and see your improvement as your times start to get lower and lower.
Run into your future
Wherever you are, don’t worry. For every marathon runner, there’s an absolute beginner. Every runner on the planet started somewhere, venturing out for their first steps when others chose home comforts or rest and recreation.
If it’s your turn, enjoy the journey. While these running tips might not turn you into the next Olympic superstar, they will help you master those first few weeks. And that’s more than enough to begin with.
Looking for more running tips and inspiration?
If you feel ready to take your training up a level and want some more tips on how best to satisfy your need for more speed, then we suggest checking out our article ‘An Introduction to Interval Training’. It can help you develop strength, endurance and boost the amount of oxygen your body can use during intense exercise too.