10 Top Tips for Beginner Runners
After the recent boom in people pounding the pavements, it may feel like you’re the last person in the world to start running, but you’re not alone. And it won’t be long before you’re out there doing laps of the park too. Here’s a few tips to help you on your way.
Believe you can do it – here’s how
I’ve taught hundreds of women of all ages and body shapes how to run their first 5k, many of whom have tried before and given up. What I know from this is that, just because you ‘failed’ or ‘gave up’ before (whatever negative self-talk you use), it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Yes, this time can be different.
Establish a routine
Starting a new exercise plan can be exciting, and you might find you’re full of enthusiasm for it in the first week, but then struggle to keep this up. That’s why it’s important to get into a routine. Set aside 30 mins, three days a week for doing your runs and try to make it a habit.
Training with other people makes it far easier. You’re making a commitment not only to yourself, but to them too and that means you’re less likely to break it. Find a group to run with or rope in a few friends.
Get some guidance
To help avoid getting injured and to increase your running at a sustainable rate, get some advice. Following a beginner runner plan such as the NHS’s Couch to 5k will see you run/walking for around half an hour, three days a week. Or you can use my Beginners’ 0-5k training guide.
Set yourself a goal
Whatever your level of fitness, having a goal and tracking your progress towards it can be a real motivator. Maybe it’s running for 20 mins, or completing your first 5k, clocking up a set amount of miles this month or running your regular loop of the park a little bit faster than you have before. Set yourself a target to work towards, whatever that is.
Track your progress
Keeping a log of your runs can help motivate you. On days when you feel like giving up, you can look back at those early runs and see how far you’ve come. You can use an online log such as Strava (strava.com) or, as I did when I first started, just using a notebook.
When you reach your goal, give yourself a treat. A new pair of running shoes, a spa day or a fancy bottle of wine. Promise yourself treat when you reach your goal.
Supplement your running
As well as running, it’s a good idea to start doing some strengthening exercises two days per week. Add in two strength sessions – they only need to be 20 mins. Yoga and pilates count or you can find plenty of workouts to follow online (including mine).
Listen to your body
Sometimes your body needs a rest day. It may be that you’re coming down with a cold or have a niggle in your leg, so listen to it. It’s not being lazy, it’s often being sensible. Pushing through pain or when you’re unwell will only lead to more time off further down the line.
Running can be fun. You just need to find what makes it fun for you. Maybe it’s running with friends, maybe it’s doing it solo. Maybe it’s early morning, or perhaps at night. If you want to stop and walk for a bit or take a picture – do it. There’s no rules, just do whatever makes you enjoy a run.
Post in partnership with Very. Shoes pictured: Asics Gel Kyano.