Thinking of becoming a runner or you have started already but want to make sure you are doing it right?
You have come to the right place! This beginners running guide will help you to get on the right path and decide whether you really are ready to start running.
I have been at the beginning and have done it wrong. So I hope you can learn from my mistakes like I have now. Whether your goal is to do a marathon, lose some weight or you have been advised by you doctor to start being active – it is important to start right. This will save you disappointment, injuries and just general hatred for running.
Should I start running? How to start?
This would be a bad article if it didn’t mention the benefits of running, so I will start with that..
I am sure you have read all about them, but here are the main ones, in my opinion:
Good old stress relief – oh yes! We have a lot of that these days. Covid has changed our lives upside down, work can be extremely demanding, your relationship might not be going the way you want. We all have stress in our lives (some more than others) in one way or the other. This is the main reason I run. A lot. I am not saying that running will solve your problems but it certainly can clear your head so that you can concentrate on the solutions and think straight.
Medical stuff benefits – can’t forget those. Scientists say that running leads to higher lung capacity, improves cardiovascular health, increases metabolism and generates a lot of other benefits to you physical health. This is great but I believe that it is highly individual and dependent on lifestyle choices and underlying factors.
Helps weight loss – this is a forever hot topic. There are so many weight loss plans out there these days which may include fasting, new low calorie, low sugar products etc. There are a lot of dietary restrictions attached to this and it can get tricky. To be honest, most food is good for you in reasonable amounts as long as you keep active. And running is the best cardio to do so.
Sense of achievement – let’s be honest – we all feel so good running that extra mile (maybe not during – but certainly after)! Achievement creates positive emotions which in turn is a part of a healthy mindset and good quality of life. That for me is a big one!
Right! Before you start buying your new running gear, getting your friends involved and booking those races – don’t forget about medical challenges. Unfortunately not everyone can or should run. If you have any underlying conditions, if you are taking any medication, please consult with your doctor on whether starting up running could potentially be a detriment to you health. This is a must!
The next question to ask yourself – what is your current fitness level? Are you a gym freak and do lots of cardio classes or have you never been to a gym or done any other activity that involves more effort than walking around the house?
Regardless of you answer, you should take it slow if you are new to running. If you are not used to any form of exercise – be patient with yourself. It is important to have the right mindset. Be patient and consistent. It might take longer but it will be worth it! I would also suggest doing some strength training too which reduces the chance of injuries.
Another big word that relates to running (and anything else in life really) is MOTIVATION. Be prepared to make running your habit, otherwise you might as well not start or read further.
…When things get tough, it is very easy to lose motivation and before you know it, your running shoes have a thick layer of dust. It has happened to me. I have a separate article on motivation but I have scribbled down few things that I have done to keep myself motivated.
Join a running club – they are a lot of fun and makes you want to do better
Post you goals on your social media and follow them up – might seem silly but it really works
Keep thinking of why you are running – there is a reason you started. Keep that in mind!
Make a bet or a promise to you friends/family. I made a bet that I would do 100 miles in July and guess what? I did!
So, you are all checked out and motivated. One more thing before we can start running – get some running gear! Please don’t run in your day to day shoes not meant for running or (god forbid) high heels….I hope no one is as crazy as that! Getting the right gear is important as it helps your performance, well being and helps to avoid injuries. You might need some thicker layers too if running in cooler conditions.
Right, lets cut to the point!
So, how to run correctly…
Well, before you do run – don’t forget the warm up! I never used to… not a great example at the time! Your warm up should be dynamic instead of static stretches. Very important to avoid injuries so please don’t ignore this!
Running seems natural but can be done wrong and lead to injuries. The more you run, more you will feel it.
…Don’t be a wicked witch with a hump. Keep your posture nice and tall concentrating on going forward, looking at least 30 m ahead of you – not checking out your new shoes as nice as they might be!
…Lean slightly forward from your ankles while running. I would be surprised if you were trying to lean backwards while running…
…Land on your midfoot and on a bent knee! Heel-strikers tend to get knee injuries as there is a stronger impact on the knee. Not to mention shin splits. I am very familiar with those…
…Keep arm swings symmetrical between both elbows. Don’t be Phoebe Buffey from Friends. As much fun as it would be, your running career won’t last very long.
Monitor your form – no sacrifices!
It is all well and good to know the main techniques for running to be able to avoid injuries, but you must also ensure you practice them. If you are starting to lose form and your posture goes – stop running. Walk for a while and then continue again. But do not sacrifice your form.
One step at a time
Don’t try to run a marathon without training or make your first run to be 10 miles. Not even 5. That’s just silly.
Set realistic and healthy goals. The first run should be short – see how you feel and how your body reacts.
Develop your running routine and stick to it. I run 4 days a week but it’s never the same run for me. Check out my other article on types of running later on. Any run I do, I would increase either the distance or speed slightly. For me, a challenge was to run in the rain. It was my worst nightmare bu I quite enjoy it now.
Look back at what you have achieved over the months/year and you will see all those little steps were worth it.
Keep safe – nutrition and hydration check
LEHOM 1 Litre Water Bottle
It is important to keep hydrated every day which will also help with your running. Just don’t try to drink a liter of water 5 min before you go for a run. That will be very uncomfortable to say the least and the run will be very short!
Of course, you can drink during your run, especially when it is hot. Just don’t exaggerate – listen to your body.
If I have a longer run planned, I would normally have an electrolyte drink an hour before and take some with me but it is not a must. However, if you have done a long run, having an electrolyte, or a drink that contains sugar or slow release carbohydrate, will help with your recovery.
Food. Food. Food.
I love food! I always joke around that I run to be able to eat more. Or is it a joke..?
The reality is, more you run, more calories you burn and your body needs more nutrients. So, please don’t do crazy fasting diets and running at the same time. That is a recipe for a disaster.
Nutrition is one of the biggest topics that can be discussed for hours and hours in the running world. Let’s save this for a separate article. The main thing is – your body needs fuel. So you need to feed it!
I would normally have a meal 2-3 hours before a run and sometimes a little healthy snack around an hour before if I am going on a long run.
Also, as I said before – all food is good in moderation, so don’t panic. (Unless, of course, you have allergies etc.)
Don’t overdo it – take care of yourself!
One of the most important piece of advice that I can give you is not to overdo it. You really don’t want to injure yourself and then not be able to even walk properly for months. Take it easy and enjoy it! Be consistent with your running and slowly increase the distance. It will pay off long term.
I hope you have enjoyed this beginners running guide. It really is just the beginning – there is so much more to talk about!
It is exciting though – I have met so many great people though running, I also feel a lot stronger physically and mainly – it makes me happy! I hope that running has the same effect on you. Please share your experiences and let me know if I can help in any way.