Running for beginners

The thing I really like about running, is the absolute simplicity of it. You can open your door, and boom, you’re off. No booking courts, making sure your team turns up; driving to far away facilities…

For something so easy however, there is an awful lot written about it! Some of it seems sensible; some is clearly mad. If you look carefully, there is a lot of really good advice on t’internet about how to go from doing very little exercise and gradually building up; right up to proper training advice for elite athletes. But, like anything on the internet, for one article telling you that running backwards through custard, whilst eating a zeppelin, is a good idea – there are plenty more saying this could be potentially dangerous.

I am absolutely not an expert. I’ve never been to a running club, never been told how to run, or how not to run. But, there a few simple things I’ve found out in the last 18 months that might help…

1. Start off by talking to people who exercise regularly. Don’t be embarrassed or put off, this lot are a genuine mine of information. And because they normally hang round other fit people who know all the things they know, they will be delighted to bore the socks off you with every last tip they can think of! Everyone starts from somewhere, and people are generally flattered to be asked their advice.

2. Start slow. Don’t overdo it at the start. It is really, really, really tempting to push yourself once you’ve made the conscious effort to get fit/fitter. But, I can tell you from experience, there’s no feeling more miserable than having to do nothing for weeks on end because you’ve pulled a muscle or twisted an ankle. Take it easy, do lots of stretching. Don’t get impatient.

3. If you’ve not done any exercise for a few years, then go see your GP too. If you are getting back into it slowly, then I’d suggest seeing a sports physio or osteopath. This is a “whatever works for you” sort of call, but remember these people see runners and athletes of all shapes and sizes every day – they know where likely weaknesses are and they can help enormously with injury prevention. See one whilst you are still walking into the clinic, not hobbling!

4.  Set goals. If you have a target number of miles to run in a week, or month, or if you are training for a 5k, 10k, whatever… it helps motivate you to get out of the door – and that is the hardest part of any run!

5. Look for a parkrun near you. These are free-to-enter 5k runs, held around the UK every Saturday morning. They are really welcoming events for runners of all standards, the volunteers are brilliant at letting you know what you need to do, cheer you along – and again, there’s lots of people there to give you pointers if you want them. The runs are also timed, so you can race against yourself from one week to the next. All you have to do is pre-register online. It is easy, fun and a great way to start your Saturday – believe me, the sausage sarnie tastes all the better afterwards.

6. Go to a ‘proper’ running shop to find a pair of trainers. Your feet are quite important when it comes to running, so it is worth treating them to some decent shoes to minimize the horror you are about to inflict upon them! My last two pairs of trainers came from Run and Become in Cardiff, where they ask to see you running before giving advice on what you need. But, other good retailers are available!

That’s it for now. I will add more as I learn (and remember), but as with all things in running, you can find much, much more on Runner’s World.


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  1. I should have read this before I started. May have saved myself an injury – Rakman!

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