How to start running: A beginner’s guide

‘Running is only for super-fit people’, ‘I could never run for more than a mile’, ‘You have to be a certain kind of person to go running’.

Whatever it is, there are lots of preconceptions about running that might have you thinking ‘this isn’t for me’.

The truth is that running is very beneficial to your health and vastly improves the quality of your emotional and mental life. It even helps you live longer!

If you’re new to running, or simply just want to find out more, then we’ve compiled a list of tips that will help you get started:

DRESS APPROPRIATELY

Luckily, there are no ‘set’ clothes for runners.

Whether you wear long baggy jogging bottoms like Rocky or uber-tight shorts like Marathon runners, as long as you have the freedom to move your arms and legs and breathe properly, then you’re free to do whatever you like.

Firstly, if you’re running it goes without saying that you need to pick the right running footwear.

Because everyone is different there is not a one-size fits all option – in general, though, you want to find something that strikes a balance between comfort and performance.

Here’s a great guide to get you started if you’re finding it challenging to decide what to wear on your feet.

The key thing when running is not to overdress. Remember that when you are running your body temperature will increase so even on cooler days you need to take that into account – too many layers can often be a mistake for this reason.

Runner’s world have created a great tool if you’re struggling to choose your jogging gear.

However, it is a particularly chilly day then be sure to wear a warmer top to keep your core warm!

PACE YOURSELF

When starting a new exercise there’s a temptation to put everything into it and adopt the ‘go hard or go home’ mentality that is often popular with bodybuilders.

However, going too hard when you’re running can mean that you have stop and walk back or that you will end up finishing the run in pain.

When you first start running you have to keep in mind that your body will be adapting to a new form of exercise and will need time to become accustomed to your new health and fitness schedule.

You need to give your muscles time to build themselves up gradually, which is why it is so important to pace yourself during your run and don’t push yourself beyond your limits.

If you’re an absolute beginner, it’s recommend to jog for 1-min on and 1-min walking for about 15 rounds. If you’re experienced in cardiovascular exercise, it’s recommended to jog at a comfortable pace for about 20-30 minutes starting out. Working your way up. Aim to run 3-times a week with the 3rd run of the week being a bit longer than the rest. You can reasonably add 1-km extra to your run about every 2-weeks.

You can pace yourself using a watch or download the Runkeeper app which can connect to other fitness apps such as Fitmo – this way you’ll ensure that you have enough energy to finish the run and still feel great afterwards.

MUSIC

When you start running it might be a little tougher to keep your motivation. ‘I don’t have to do this’ or ‘I could be in bed right now’ are common thoughts people have when they first start running. If this is you, don’t worry it’s completely normal.

You can listen to music on your runs to keep you motivated during the first few weeks when it’s likely to be tougher as your body adapts to your new exercise schedule.

As you become a more experienced runner, your favourite tunes will also help you to get through longer, tougher runs.

HYDRATE

Hydration is the most important thing when you’re running – especially on longer runs.

Staying hydrated is not only critical to your running performance but also necessary for preventing heat-related illnesses. Dehydration while running can lead to fatigue, headaches, decreased coordination and muscle cramping

As a runner you need to monitor what and how much you’re drinking before, during and after your run.

Always try and carry water with you on longer runs so you can stay hydrated. You can buy a hydration belt cheaply and use it to store all the liquids that you need to consume during your run.

RELAX

It might be counterintuitive to suggest that you need to relax when you’re doing strenuous exercise, but when you run it’s important.

Carrying extra tension, especially in the shoulders, neck or hips will use up energy .

To help you be more economical with your resources and to just improve the overall quality of your running experience, try and stay as loose as possible. You can find some great in-depth tips on this article from Runners World.

Releasing tension can help you run longer and faster without getting the soreness you can traditionally get with running.

WARMING UP AND WARMING DOWN

It is important to warm up before you start running because it prepares the body for exercise and focuses your mind on the task ahead.

Warming up effectively gradually raises your heart rate so that oxygen can be supplied to the muscles efficiently and raises body temperature making your muscles looser and your joints more mobile.

Everybody is different and what suits one person might not suit another. Just ensure that your muscles are feeling adequately loosened up before you begin your run.

Warming down is equally important since it allows your heart rate to return to normal and speeds ups the removal of lactic acid from your muscles (which builds up after prolonged exercise) which lessens the likelihood of cramping or muscle spasms.

Warming up and warming down are key parts of the recovery process are essential for runners who are new or experienced.

RECOVERY

As well as warming up and warming down, there are a few more things that can aid your recovery as a runner.

Immediately following your run, the body metabolic processes will slow down but the recovery process continues. Your body is trying to restock what it has just burned off during exercise. It is important to refuel straight after your run because it is at this time that the body is most absorbing the most nutrients.

It’s important to stay hydrated at this time so that your muscles stay lubricated and don’t tighten up and become sore.

It’s also advisable to refuel your energy straight after you have been running. Aside from liquids healthy carb and protein snacks and boost your energy levels post-exercise and speed up recovery.

And, as always getting a good night’s sleep is essential if you want your body to recover fully.

ENLIST THE HELP OF A PROFESSIONAL

If apps and articles still haven’t cleared up running for you, then it might be time to join the six million people who have hired personal trainers to help them work out more effectively.

Fitmo is an app which connects you with a real-life personal trainer via an app. You can follow a tailored program made by your coach just for you. You can train whenever and wherever you want, in your own time. You will always be a message or video call away from each other and, most importantly, motivation will always be on-hand.

There are personal trainers specialise in running and help you meet your goals and can give you invaluable guidance on nutrition and fueling. Since everyone’s different, having an expert give you personalised guidance can really help you during the initial stages of exercise.

THE FINAL LAP

So if you’re thinking about running, we hope that this article has cleared up some of your uncertainties and removed some of the barriers that have been stopping you from getting started.

By following our guidelines above, you will have a great foundation for getting into running and starting your journey towards better long-term health and fitness.

By: The Fitmo Team

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