Top 10 Running Tips for Beginners

 |  Running  | 

The first step to running is to make the decision that you want to start running – it is as simple as that. Every person who runs, no matter how slowly or how far, is a runner. To make sure that you are equipped to be the best runner you can be, free of injury, comfortable and improving with every training run, here are ten tips for beginners.

Top 10 Running Tips for Beginners

1. Equip yourself
Like many sports, a runner needs the right ‘tools’ to be able to do their sport properly. By tool, this refers to equipment or clothing. For a runner, a professionally fitted shoe is a must. Head to your nearest running store for a foot/gait analysis and buy your running shoes accordingly. Try to pick your shoe based on comfort and fit, as opposed to colour or style! Some people have a high arch, while others have a low arch (flat footed), and some feet turn inwards or outwards in running style. Choose a versatile shoe for road and trail, rather than anything too specific to start with. Next up, every runner needs some kit – loose fitting, comfortable running clothing (vest, shorts and a water or wind proof jacket are a good starting point) and other handy items such as a water bottle to carry around, an arm band to secure your mobile phone as you run and a headband to keep the hair and sweat away from your eyes. Once you look the part, you will also feel the part.



2. Enter a race
A target goal (and a little bit of a pressure) is a great motivation to keep you on track with your training runs. Before you start training, have a race event in mind. Having a deadline will help you commit and target your training plan accordingly. Whether it is a 5k fun run or something more challenging, be realistic (time and distance wise) and set your goal. Having this date in mind will help push you out of the door on those days when you feel lethargic and nothing beats the adrenaline of race day which is something to look forward to and plan towards.

3. Tailored training plan
Choose a plan that suits your current fitness levels and your starting point. If you have never run before or ran many years ago, a beginner plan is needed. The Internet or running magazines are a great place to start searching for the right plan for you. Think about the event/race you have in mind and how many weeks you have to train and look for a plan that fits in with your lifestyle and commitments. The Couch to 5k app is a favourite for total beginners and looks to get you from complete beginner to 5k runner in 9-12 weeks.

4. Training buddy
A running club can be daunting for beginners at first, but there are many beginner groups and Couch to 5k meet-ups out there. Join a group or find a friend to run with to keep you on track. You are more likely to commit to a training run if you have pre-arranged a meeting place and time with a friend or group as you are less likely to want to let them down. Running with others also makes your new hobby a part of your social life. What’s more, running with others will bring out your competitive edge and push you to run a little further or a little faster.

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5. Regular runner
Training runs see bigger and faster improvements if you train regularly. Aim to run at least three times a week and allow for recovery days. Mix up your runs – some interval training, some short and fast runs and some long and slow runs and try different routes and terrain. Sometimes enthusiasm at the beginning can mean that you over train, cause injury or fatigue and then taper off or stop altogether. This is where your training plan is useful. Start steadily and build up your miles with regular and consistent training runs. Running will become a normal part of your lifestyle and routine and your body will become more conditioned.

6. Take the rough with the smooth
Every runner, even Olympic athletes, have bad days. There will be days when you feel like your legs are made of lead or your breathing just won’t regulate. This is completely normal. Don’t beat yourself up about the lows, but instead look at how far you have come and where you want to get to. Just as there are bad days and bad runs, there are good days and good runs too! Keep a training diary to reflect on your running journey and praise yourself for your achievements. If you are pushing yourself too hard, simply slow down or take some rest, find your motivation and start again.

7. Take in your liquids
Every runner needs to increase their fluid intake. Drink lots of water before, during and after a run. Liquids help your organs function better and speeds up recovery. When you are dehydrated, your body will become more fatigued and running feels more difficult.

8. Fuel up
Nutrition is a hugely important part of every runner’s considerations. The key is to eat clean and support your new hobby with the right ‘fuel’ or foods to perform to the best of your ability. If you are what you eat, junk food will make you feel lethargic, but fresh food full of vitamins and minerals will help you feel energetic. Carbohydrates are great for slow releasing energy for longer runs and protein is an important part of recovery and repairing your muscles post-run.

9. Mix it up
Running can be combined with other exercises to help strengthen your muscles. Cross train a couple of times a week to increase strength and flexibility. Some great exercises include yoga, circuit training or weight training. Aim to strengthen your leg muscles and work on your core and posture. Doing so will have a positive effect on your running.

10. Slowly but surely
Aim to slowly increase your distance and running time at first, rather than your speed. Speed comes after distance. A guide is to increase your mileage by 10-20% a week. This gradual increase helps the body become accustomed to running further and avoids the risk of injury.

Following these simple steps will help you on the road to your first running event. Once you cross that finish line, the running bug will surely grab you and help motivate the rest of your training and running journey.