Have you ever run before? Or perhaps you haven’t for years? Starting running is all about building up a manageable routine. Without a routine that starts gently and builds up from there, you are more than likely to give up the practice before long. Especially if your first couple of sessions leave you exhausted and dispirited, which happens to be one of the most common issues facing new runners that causes them to quit within a space of weeks.
Never fear though, every runner starts somewhere and the desire for the improved fitness and health that comes with a regular running routine means that people start at all ages and at all levels of experience. But you have to start properly, and just how to do that depends upon a range of factors including your general fitness and your goals.
There is a whole load of psychology to starting to run properly, and it is all about making the experience one that invites you to come back after your first session, getting through that initial period, and finding the motivation to keep going. Do this properly, and, before very long at all, the myriad health benefits (not to mention the simple joy of running) will spur you on into a regular running routine.
Do it properly and running will become an integral part of your life and motivation will come easily. Do it wrong, go too hard, and the only running you do could be towards the exit, much like the little green man running for the fire exit on the ISO safety signs in public buildings.
Start Properly and Maintain
So inaugurating a successful and sustainable running habit becomes a twofold challenge. The first thing is simply to start running, and to make the experience an enjoyable and encouraging one. After that, it is all about maintaining the habit, building a routine and surrounding yourself with encouraging factors, whether that be the encouragement of fellow runners or the drive towards achieving a specific goal.
The joy and health benefits of running are immense, and it is this that will keep you doing it. But even though it takes a routine to properly feel the benefit of running, there are advantages that you will feel straight away. If you are not in the habit of exercise, the endorphin rush that comes with doing so can be a massively encouraging factor to begin with.
Put another way, after you have regained your breath after a running session that has sufficiently pushed you (without overexertion), you simply feel great. Your body is full of oxygen, and you will feel great for the rest of the day – right up until you collapse into a well-earned night’s rest. Achieving this thrill is one of the most important beginner techniques when it comes to running.
Tips for Beginners
So how do you begin? Here follows a series of tips for running beginners. These tips are aimed at those new to running or who have not done so for many years. Nonetheless, you will find that much of this advice applies to runners of all experience levels, and many of these tips you can carry with you, right through your running career.
Start By Running in Intervals
Stop, start, stop, start – that is the way to run at first. Your first outing shouldn’t be a specific distance you aim to cover in one go. Even if you have accounted for your lack of experience and have kept the distance short, you simply don’t know your own ability at this point. You could end up getting pretty dispirited by not covering what you had assumed was a short distance.
Instead, think of it in terms of time, and aim to run for two minutes then to walk for two minutes and proceed like that. You can set a route if you like (see below) but your running should be measured in intervals of time and not a specific distance.
It can be tempting at this stage to miss out on the intervals if you feel you have the energy to continue running, but this can be deceptive and lead to your session ending prematurely. Set a specific amount of time for which to run and proceed in intervals.
After you have ascertained the distance that this will take you, you can begin setting a distance to run – but continue to do it in stop-start intervals. After that, you can make it your goal to complete that specific distance with fewer stops, but phase them out gradually.
Preparing for your run involves two things – getting into the correct attire and warming up. Both are essential and if you neglect them then you could not only fail to achieve your goal, but also wind up in quite a lot of pain either from an abdominal stitch or even an injury. A warmup will involve stretching and some aerobic exercise to get your breathing going. In terms of what to wear, there is no need to buy top-quality gear to begin with; light sports clothes and a pair of trainers are all you need.
Give Yourself a Few Days to Recover
This one is especially important. Be sure to give yourself a few days to recover between each of your running sessions. For one thing, you can expect sore muscles the next day – this is all but inevitable – so you should give them time to recover. A good number is three days a week to begin with, evenly spaced out. However, if you don’t feel up to that, do not be ashamed to run even less frequently at first (as long as it is regular) and make a goal to increase the frequency.
Pick a Route
One of the things that will keep you coming back to running and prevent you from giving up before you have even started is to make it as enjoyable as possible. And one of the great joys of running is the terrain you can cover and the sights you can take in as you go. So pick a scenic route, whether that be through nature or some of the most beautiful parts of your city. You will almost certainly be able to find recommended running routes online for wherever you live.
And that about wraps up the most important tips for beginning running – a combination of doing it properly and making it as enjoyable as possible. You have all the time in the world to build up to a more challenging routine, so take your time to begin with, and enjoy everything the sport has to offer.