Here are some beginners running tips based on my 5 years or so experience. I’m by no means a professional, the tips below are based on my own experience only. I hope you find them useful.
1. Trainers are important!
There are a plethora of gadgets, clothing and accessories available nowadays for runners, but all of it is wasted if you don’t have a decent pair of trainers to carry it all. The wrong pair for you will make running uncomfortable and could even cause injury.
Personally I go to a specialised running shop for mine where they measure you up, get you on a treadmill to look at things like your running style and foot arch shape. They then recommend a few pairs based on your personal running technique.
The only downside to this is that although the above service is often free, you will end up paying a little more for the trainers themselves (anywhere between £80 and £140). But it is worth it as the trainers will be excellent quality and will be suited to your personal running style. Also, don’t forget this is still a lot cheaper than most gyms are per year.
If you don’t want to stretch to that kind of money, the cheaper alternative is to find out what your foot arch is using this technique:and go to a shop that separates running shoes into normal and high-arch support. Just remember though, at the end of the day you really do get what you pay for.
2. Tracking your runs
You’ll probably want to track your runs to monitor your progress and share your achievements on the usual social media platforms.
Hardwarewise, you can either use your smartphone or invest in a GPS watch. Again it all depends on how much you want to spend. When I first started I used my smartphone but found that the accuracy wasn’t very good. I therefore got myself a Garmin Forerunner 110 (bottom of the range basic model, but suited my needs) for £75 which made a hell of a difference. I had that for three years before I upgraded.
Softwarewise, I use Garmin Connect as it works best with my Forerunner 620 watch combined with Strava. However, there are loads of other platforms available. Strava is what the more serious runners tend to use because there are more utilities for tracking and analysing performance, but it’s more expensive for the premium service. Both have smartphone apps allowing you to track runs on your phone and instantly upload them if you’re going down the smartphone route.
3. Sign up for a running event
In the few years I’ve been running I’ve never really had a plan or anything to aim for. As a result, I just ran whenever I felt like it. Sometimes this would be 3-4 times a week, and sometimes I’d go a few weeks without running at all. As a result I never really made any progress and stagnated in terms of my fitness and endurance.
However, as soon as I signed up for a couple of events, this prompted me to come up with a training plan. Once you have this plan and an event to look forward to, it’s amazing how much more motivated you are to stick to your running plan. I’ve made a lot more progress since running events.
There are loads of traning plans available online, but the one I use is the one created for me by MyAsics. The good thing about this site is that it tailors your plan specifically to you. All you need to do is put in how far you currently run and in what time, when your event is, how many times a week you want to run and it will create a plan just for you. It also lets you update it with the runs you do, and records the time, pace, etc so you can track your progress.
4. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you have a bad one
Every so often you’re going to have a bad run. Either you’re stressed, tired or you simply just can’t get into it. This just happens every so often, and sometimes there’s not even any explanation for it.
The important thing is not to let it put you off running again. Every runner has the odd bad run in their training plan, even professionals. Put it behind you and start again the next day, or if you feel like it try again after a couple of days. Your next run will more often than not be much better.
And look at the positive side – even if you do a mile and pack up, that’s a mile more than you would have run staying at home…
5. Don’t let weather put you off
The pros and cons of indoor treadmill running and outdoor running are pretty obvious even to the uninitiated. Weather is often quoted as a disadvantage to outdoor running, but I don’t see it like that.
On a treadmill, you have full control over your running speed, incline, and the running conditions (i.e. things like temperature and humidity) are always pretty much guaranteed to be the same. But for me, that’s only half of what running is all about.
The much more interesting part is the part you don’t get to experience on a treadmill – running in varying weather conditions, different locations and terrains and through various degrees of precipitates and wind conditions. As you build up the outdoor miles, you learn to deal with and adapt to these conditions not only in running but in everyday life too. You’ll soon find that a bit of rain just doesn’t bother you like it used to!
Just remember to tape up your nipples in very heavy rain because on the longer runs waterlogged clothes can chafe.
6. Run to get better at running, not to lose weight
Some of you may be reading this because you start running specifically to lose weight. That’s great, but try and pick a plan that develops your ability to run (e.g. couch to 5k or 0-10k in 2 months, something like that) rather than one designed to just burn off fat (e.g. “the afterburner”).
The reason for this is that plans designed to develop your ability to run will push you to run faster and further, which in turn will enable you to actually run faster and further! As a result you’ll be more capable of shifting the calories, and will do so as a result anyway – win/win!
It’s similar to the “give a man the means to catch his own fish” scenario. But instead of giving yourself the means to catch your own fish, give yourself the means and ability to burn off more fat by getting better at running.
7. Enjoy it!
Enjoy pushing yourself. Enjoy feeling that burning in your legs after a good 4.5 miler. Enjoy competing with your friends. Enjoy being cheered on by the crowd at your first ever run.
Just enjoy yourself!