I’d say, after 9 months of running, I’m still a relative newbie, but these are tips I wish I’d known at the start. January seems a good time to share, with so many people setting resolutions to get fit.
I cannot possibly speak highly enough of the couch to 5k program. It changed my life. The nhs podcasts are great, because there’s a person, offering advice, and keeping you going. However, there are other apps available. Some let you listen to your own music. I now sometimes go back to the c25k if I’ve had a break. The structure helps me get back in to it, and I can use the runs to work on my speeds.
Get Good Shoes
Good shoes are a must. They don’t have to be expensive by any means, but I do advise going to a shop and letting them check your feet. I don’t know what this means really, but we apparently, all have different arches and stuff, and some shoes compliment both this and our running style. I went to a running shop, let them do my feet, then ordered some Karrimor trainers off amazon for £20. A sports bra is also a must. When I first started, I didn’t bother. I’ve got tiny boobs, and I run about 3mph, so it didn’t seem necessary. However, once I did buy one, runs were much more comfortable, and my back and shoulders ached a lot less the day after. I often feel I could do with some sort of bum bra, it wobbles about like mad. But I have yet to find this!
Thin, light layers are brilliant. Especially if you are starting in the winter. I have a habit of wrapping up massively, then once I’ve been running for a few minutes I’m boiling. I highly recommend a hat and gloves, my fingers and ears freeze, but your core will keep warm. I generally wear leggings, a sports bra, a long sleeve t-shirt and a light sports jacket. I struggle with my feet. I run around a park and field, so it’s often wet. Running shoes are all meshy. I get wet feet. I’ve heard a rumour of waterproof socks…but this seems weird!
Keep your back straight, shoulders pulled back, and your stomach muscles relaxed. Arms should be at a 90-degree angle, and push back and forward. There’s no need for elaborate swings, you’ll just pull something. Also, keep your fingers bent, but not tense.
The c25k program is fantastic for starting slowly. But however, you choose to start running, don’t try to go to fast. A gentle jog is absolutely fine. Build up slowly over time. Remember, you are doing an awful lot more than you would be sat on the sofa.
I do Pilates a few times a week. Just a beginner 30-minute video on YouTube. While to start with, it killed all my muscles for days, now I’ve found its strengthened my legs and core, making me a much better runner. When I first started, my legs would be agony even from a short run, and I’d struggle to keep a straight back. Any stengh training is great, but remember not to push yourself too hard.
The odd day off won’t hurt, but try not to make a habit of it. I start looking for excuses, then don’t run for months and have to start again. Try to fit even a short run in, a lap of a park is enough to keep up momentum. If you have an injury, take your time to recover, but do what you can, even if that’s just a brisk walk. Try to replace running with other forms of exercise, maybe swimming or yoga, to stay in the right mindset. The same if you are ill. It’s fine to run with mild coughs and colds, but slow down, and rest if you need to. Listen to your body and make sure you stay hydrated.
There Will be Bad Days
There is no way of avoiding this. You will have bad days. I have days when I run for 15 minutes, and just cannot go on. Remember, a bad run, is still a run. Learn any lessons you can, do you maybe need to stretch more? Or eat less before you run? Then forget about it and move on.
Ultimately, stop making excuses, and do it! When I first started, for every run I’d think “it’s just 30 minutes of my life, then it’s over” constantly. Then I’d spend the rest of the day feeling great. Then in no time at all, I wanted to go out, and missed it on my days off. You can do this!