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How to get into running

How to get into running

In this blog we are going to look at the benefits of running, how to start running, common questions and we will tell you all that you need to know to get on track to a more active you!

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Running can change your life entirely.  It can make you feel happier, be healthier and become fitter. It can be a very rewarding exercise.

Let us begin with 12 of the benefits to taking up running:

  1. You can run pretty much anywhere
  2. … and on a variety of terrains
  3. Running is a great calorie burner
  4. You do not need an expensive gym membership for running
  5. It is good for your health and strengthens your joints
  6. Regular running can help decrease a number of potentially serious illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes
  7. Going on a run can also lift your mood
  8. It can be a great stress buster
  9. Running can help you to keep your weight goals on track
  10. It is a flexible activity as you can do it at most times of the day
  11. You do not need to spend a lot of money on running equipment
  12. It can be a sociable event  

Starting out

Please excuse the pun but it is essential that you ‘pace yourself’. You should not try to do too much at first and instead you should try to set yourself realistic goals. If, for example, you tell yourself you are going to go on a mile’s run starting from today and you head out the door and you only get to the end of the street… you will feel disappointed along with your lungs, legs and maybe your whole body hurting and you vow you will never do that again!

You should take small steps! Running takes time to get into. First of all you should aim to get going by walking, and walking often. This will enable your body to build aerobic and muscular stamina. It is recommended to do 30 minutes of walking per day. Initially, try to keep it easy, then gradually walk with more intensity. This walking routine should hopefully get you used to a regular exercise routine.

Once you have mastered regular moderate-intensity walking, your next step should be to aim to add in small portions of running into your walk.  You can build this up over time so that you do more running and less walking.  To simplify, you will probably start with 30 minutes of gentle, comfortable walking when you start out and you will aim to work towards 30 minutes of continuous running.  The timescale you set to do this is up to you but remember it is not a race...yet!

How you get to 30 minutes of running is up to you but each time you go out exercising you should aim to increase the amount of running time and decrease the amount of walking time. Again, it doesn’t have to be a competition; simply add in one to two minute running intervals into your 30 minute walk. You can extend these intervals over time. Please note that it is advised that you warm up and cool down after exercising – we will look at this in more detail shortly.

Plan ahead

At the start of each week it can be very useful to plan your running routine. This way you can work out where and when you are going to go running. Regular running should mean going out at least twice a week. You do not need to run everyday, just pick a couple of days in your week or work with what suits your fitness goals. You can then find a suitable time that works with your schedule.  

You will get better at running as your body learns to recognise the consistent training patterns. Consistency is key. Your body will not cope well with running every day in one week and then having a few weeks off with little or no exercise. Ideally it would be good to space 2 or 3 runs across the week but realistically the weekend is when the majority of runners can clock up their miles.

What else?...

Running Buddy. It can be worthwhile to find a running buddy, preferably someone who is of a similar ability to you so that you can encourage each other on your runs. You will not want to let your partner down and so you will hopefully keep motivated to organise and go out on runs.

Join a club. You could join a running club to commit regularly to running. Many groups offer different ability levels and are suitable for those who are starting out on their running adventures. Why not have a look and see what your local area has to offer?

Set goals.  You could sign up for an upcoming organised fun run to keep yourself motivated. Once you have mastered a fun run, why not a competitive run? These are available in various distances. Charity runs are also very popular and have fabulous atmospheres to soak up and keep you going! There are also weekly free 5 KM parkruns too. You can be timed for these. You could see if there is one local to where you live.

Keep track.  It can be useful tomonitor your runs. This could include your routes, times and distances and running conditions. You might discover a firm favourite flat route for example. You can also look back in time and see how you have improved.

Be realistic. Whenever you add more intensity to your fitness level your body will protest, no matter what your current level of fitness is. You need to give your body time to get used to the regimes that you introduce to it. With regular training, your body will soon learn to cope with the demands.

  1. It is important to listen to your body and learn to know the difference between exercise related soreness and true pain. Running should not be a painful activity before, during and after you start. If this is the case it may be worth getting yourself checked over. It is normal to feel mild discomfort when starting out as your body adjusts to using muscles, which are not regularly used. With regular exercise, soon enough this discomfort will pass.

Spice it up. You can alter your distances, pace and routes to get a bit more variety. Running the same route frequently can become too repetitive and less motivating …unless you are hoping to get that faster time!

Equipment

  • Running requires very little equipment but it is important to have a good pair of running shoes to absorb all those miles whilst also reducing injury. The NHS recommends that you replace your trainers every 300 miles (you may need a running app to track your distance)!
  • High visibility clothing and a head torch may be useful for those darker early morning and late night runs.
  • Running App for your Smartphone so you can track your runs.
  • If you develop a real passion for running it might be worth looking into getting a fitness watch, which can provide and store information about your runs. At Newitts.com we have a great selection to suit your sporting needs.

Common questions

Why do I always get out of breath? Running makes your breathe more vigorously than normal. As you become fitter you will find you will catch your breath much quicker. Sometimes simply slowing your pace down will help with your breathing

Why do I always get a stitch? Stitches are common to runners, particularly in beginner runners because the tummy is not used to being shaken about! Like with breathing, stitches tend to go away the fitter you get. It is best not to eat a heavy meal or solid foods in the couple of hours before you run. You can normally rid yourself of a stitch by breathing deeply.

Do I need to warm up and cool down? Running is much more doable when you ease into it gently. A warm up enables this by loosening you up and making you ready to run. It also can help to prevent injury. Cooling down can also help with recovery and continue to pump blood to muscles for repair.

Do I need to know how fast I am running? Only if you are working towards a Personal Best or a competition. If you are running for fitness, there is no necessity to know how fast you are running. It is more important to be getting active and moving than to worry about how fast you are going. You should want to enjoy running and do not have to put pressure on yourself to keep on getting faster – if you do not want to!

What should I eat before and after a run? For a long run it would be useful to have a carbohydrate meal at least 3 to 4 hours before to help you endure the distance. For a shorter run it would be more beneficial to have liquids. After a run you need fluids to replace fluid loss and protein is good to help repair muscle tissue.

Do I need to be running everyday? Rest days are important in running. It prevents you from burning out and reduces chances of injury from overusing joints and muscles. Giving your body time to rest and recover will make the next run more enjoyable. If you over do it, you may struggle the next time you go out running, as your muscles could be tired.

In summary

You are not going to become a world-class athlete over night but little small steps can make a huge difference. Try to focus on enjoying running. Do not think about how challenging it is or you will soon give up. You should use running for a time to think, or to chat with a friend and also to relieve stress. Try to appreciate your surroundings as you run and enjoy the break from the hustle and bustle of a busy life.

Why not give running a try?

Have you ever taken up running? Have you got any tips or advice that you could add below?

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