How do I take up running?
Runners – you see them all the time, making it look easy and enjoyable, but then you give it a go and within 30 seconds you feel like your lungs might pop out of your chest and your legs could fall off! Sound familiar? Then follow my tips for pounding the pavements pain free.
Get the right gear
You don’t have to spend a fortune, but at the very least you’ll need a pair of trainers with decent arch support. If you want to, you can go all out and get a gait analysis and the best shoes for you at a running shop (and if you’re going to stick with it, this is definitely a worthwhile investment). A good sports bra (if you’re female!) is another essential, and wear something that you can be seen in such as leggings or shorts with reflective strips and a Hi Vis vest or top. Take a water bottle too. It doesn’t need to be a special sports one – the small bottles that you can buy in any supermarket will suffice.
Plan your route
It’s a good idea to choose your route in advance, so you know that it’s safe and achievable. Picking one that takes you about half an hour to walk briskly would be a good starting point, and try to make sure it’s not particularly hilly or on unstable ground. Many people find that a circular route is less boring and therefore helps with motivation. Be aware of traffic, so try to stick to pavements, and quieter times of day.
Walk it first
Once you’ve got your route planned, walk it a couple of times as fast as you can so that your joints start to get used to that type of exertion, and you’re really familiar with it. Try wearing a well fitting rucksack with some weight in (you can raid your food cupboard and use a couple of tins) to increase the intensity and get your heart rate up.
Find someone, preferably of about the same fitness level, to go with you. This will not only make the runs themselves more interesting, but will help with motivation on the cold dark nights or rainy mornings when the sofa or your bed seem like much better options!
Pick a realistic goal
If you’ve never run before, it might be to complete a mile or to do a 5km event. Whatever it is, make sure it’s achievable, and give yourself a time frame to complete it. Once you start closing in on the initial goal, keep up the momentum by setting the next one.
Start a run/walk programme
With your route in mind, make sure you’ve got a timer on you and start as follows;
4 minutes brisk walk
1 minute run
Repeat all the way round
Once you’ve done this a few times (over a week or two) you can increase the intensity;
3 minutes brisk walk
2 minutes run
The following week, you can try;
2 minutes brisk walk
3 minutes run
Carry on reducing the walking and increase the running until you’re running the whole route. If you can’t manage 1 minute increments, try changing each one by 30 seconds at a time. You may need to do some extra warm ups, such as a few minutes walking up and down your street (or up and down your stairs) before you start the clock.
Control your breathing
Get your breathing into a steady rhythm as soon as you can. Try breathing in and out in time to your footfalls. This way, you won’t end up gasping for breath.
Don’t give up
Everyone has bad days! Sometimes it feels like a real slog, and other days you feel as though you could break records. Learn to to live for the good days, and put the bad ones behind you.
Don’t just run
A well rounded exercise programme needs a mixture of resistance, core and cardio work and just concentrating on one can lead to overuse injuries, weaknesses and muscle imbalances (not to mention boredom!). In addition to taking up running, why not find a Pilates, yoga or weights class? Even better, why not try a Personal Trainer?