Running is fantastic exercise but for first-time runners it can be fairly daunting.
Whether you are unsure about how to start, or you’re worried about something you’ve heard about running, don’t worry. UsFitties is here to help…
Running is great for a number of health benefits. It helps with weight loss, improves respiratory function, increases cardiovascular health, reduces cholesterol and helps with bone strength.
But running can be daunting too, and novices are often put off by all the talk of pace, gait and shin splints; make no mistake, running injuries can happen if you aren’t careful.
So if you’re a novice runner check out these five tips to make sure you get the most from your running experience:
1. Don’t be Afraid to Walk
When starting out, it is quite common for new runners to think that walking is somehow ‘cheating’ and that you have to just keep on going. The fitter you get the longer you will be able to run for, but don’t underestimate the power of the walk break. Running at a gentle pace as you start out, interspersed with walking to give your legs and lungs a break, is perfect for novice runners. It will also help you avoid injury in the early stages.
2. Join a Running Club
Don’t think for a second that running clubs are for elite runners – that simply isn’t the case. The most difficult part of joining a running club for most people is getting the courage to say hello to everyone at the meeting point. Once you’ve managed that, the rest is plain sailing. You’ll learn a lot about running in a short amount of time, and running clubs cater for all abilities. You’ll also gain some new friends and they’ll help you avoid the pitfalls of running. In the UK, you can find a local club via Run England and Scottish Sport, and in the US try RRCA.
3. Use the Right Gear
Don’t be fooled into thinking your super-amazing fashion trainers and a pair of board shorts with a t-shirt will be fine – they won’t. You’re heading for a world of chaffing pain if you use regular clothing and ‘stacked’ shoes are a great way to build in bad habits like ‘heel striking’. Getting the right gear – that keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and that allows you to run on the balls of your feet – is an investment worth making. Our favourite gear includes shorts from Brooks, Asics running shoes, Nike compression and running tops and Brooks wet-weather running jackets. Go to a specialist near you and choose gear that fits well and that you feel comfortable in.
4. Don’t Go Too Fast Too Soon
A lot of novice runners believe that running always has to hurt – that’s how they know they’ve worked hard and gained a ‘benefit’. No pain, no gain, right? The truth is quite the opposite – not all running has to hurt. As you improve, gain strength and as your body adapts, you’ll gain the ability to control how much a run hurts too. ‘Easy’ runs are just as much part of the process of improving as those that are hard and hurt. Take it easy to begin with, using run/walk intervals, and move up slowly and surely as your body gets used to running.
5. Believe You Can Do It!
Before you become a runner, it is quite common to think that running is for the ‘elite’ and that only ‘special athletes’ can do it. Have faith and believe that you can do it! Get started – slowly but surely – and stick to a programme. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.
Are you a runner? Are you thinking about running? Tell us about your first-time running experiences in the comments below…