When i started running, I made a lot of mistakes. None that really harmed me, but all things that, if I’d have known about them sooner, would have made my running experience a lot happier.
1. Running is hard work
This needs to be in your mind all the time when you get started. Running isn’t easy. You will get out of breath, you will need to put some effort in, and from time to time you will get exhausted. But don’t give up, the hard work IS worth it.
2. Get a plan
There is nothing quite like following a plan to keep you motivated. Thats why Couch to 5k works so well. It prescribes exactly when to run, and how long you run for. Couch to 5k got me started running, and whenever anyone asks me how to “learn to run” I give everyone exactly the same answer.
You can use the NHS Couch to 5k program, or you can search your smartphone’s app store for “C25K” and you’ll get audio cues when to run and walk.
When you’ve graduated C25K you can look for a “Bridge to 10k” program, and from there the sky literally is the limit.
Even now, I am ALWAYS running according to a training plan.
3. Run slow
It might be frustrating, but you need to run slow. Run at a pace you can have a conversation at. You need to run at this pace for at least the first 4 months of your running “career” before you even need to worry about speed.
The longer you can run at a slow pace for, the faster you will become naturally. I promise!
When you have a training plan and it tells you to rest, do it. Training plans are designed not only to make sure you get the targeted amount of running in, but to ensure your body adequately recovers for the next run.
Even if you are a physically fit person (Goes to the gym, does weights etc) you need to remember that even though your cardio system may be able to take the load, bio-mechanically you are putting strain on joints, muscles and tendons that aren;t used to it. So in order to avoid injury, always take the prescribed bout of rest.
5. Get good shoes
Running is a pretty cheap activity. You can run in any sportswear you have when you are starting out, but my one recommendation would be to get fitted for proper running shoes.
Running shoes are specifically design for the “motion” of running and provide the necessary support for that. Your gym shoes may be OK for 10 minutes on the treadmill, but probably won’t be much good beyond that. Also remember that older shoes that have been well used will have lost a lot of the support that good shoes need. So treat yourself!
Go to a reputable running shop (Not Sports Direct, they are not trained to fit running shoes and will recommend their own brands over the right shoes). Sweatshop is an excellent nationwide chain that I highly recommend. They’ll get you to do a “Gait Analysis” and make sure the shoes you get offer the right level of support, are the right size and fit, and are suitable for YOU.
Proper shoes will help prevent common injuries that stop people from running when they start, like shin splints. There is nothing more frustrating than just getting into your running only to be stopped by a silly, preventable injury.
6. Keep a log
Keep a note of how far you’ve run, how the run felt, how you felt afterwards. You can help do this with numerous “tracking” apps you can take on your smartphone. I recommend Strava. It’ll record your run, your route and your times, and lets you enter how you felt and add any other comments.
Its a great tool for you to see that you ARE improving, which in turn becomes more motivating.
7. Be safe, be seen
When you are getting started you might not want people to see you, but thats EXACTLY what needs to happen. When running at twilight or night time, always where something hi-visibility with reflective detailing. You can get hi-vis tabbards on ebay for a few pounds and could save your life!
If you want to run in the dark, you really need a head torch. Not only to be seen, but to help you see where you are running! Try the Alpkit Gamma, with a rear red light for traffic behind to spot you from afar.